Two dozen candidates have formally entered the race for the Democratic nomination and for the first time, they will all mostly descend into once location for their first showdown.
Wednesday is the first of two nights for debate between the twenty candidates who qualified. They had to meet certain donor and poll criteria to make it on to the stage.
Of the 24 that entered, four did not meet that criteria and will have to try to reach the podium at a later.
Wednesday night will feature:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
- Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
- Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
- Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York
- Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
- Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
The Rules for the Debate
Candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups.
There will be no opening statements, though candidates will have a chance to deliver closing remarks.
The two-hour debates will fly-by with 10 people involved. There will be five segments each night separated by four commercial breaks.
Warren will headline the evening as the only candidate polling in the top five to take the stage Wednesday.
A recent FOX News poll has her sitting in third around 9%.
As the clear front-runner of the group, she will have to show she can fend off potential attacks from others on stage trying to push their numbers up.
Her campaign got off to a rocky start after it was revealed she identified as a Native American on college application papers. A DNA test Warren released herself earlier this year showed that she was only 0.0009% Native American.
She has overcome the bad start with a focus on establishing her policy if she were elected. The Warren team has led the discussion on many Democratic issues such as climate change, student debt, and foreign policy.
The Texas Connection
The two Texans in the race for the nomination will both be under the lights Wednesday.
Former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will look to boost their profile and propel themselves into the higher tiers.
O’Rourke is polling at 4% and Castro is at only 1%.
O’Rourke has struggled to make a name for himself nationally after he nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz in the midterms last November.
The Border Crisis
The most pressing issue on Wednesday may be the explosion of the border crisis over the past month.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott deployed an additional 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border due to 45,000 migrants being detained just in the past month.
Abbott called Congress “a bunch of reprobates” for not solving the problem.
During the midterms, many Democrats called the crisis “fake” and “made up”.
Both parties have blamed the other for the escalating problem. This week, Congress is attempting to pass a bipartisan bill with billions in humanitarian aid.