Democrats took the stage in Michigan last night (July 30) for the first of two debates held at the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit. The hopeful candidates made their case to the American people on why they deserved their party’s nomination in 2020 to take on President Donald Trump.
It was a night where the party’s progressive candidates like Senator Sanders and Warren sparred with the more moderate candidates such as John Delaney and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. Self-help author Marianne Williamson won the night on Google, becoming the most searched for candidate of the night.
Tonight, another ten candidates plead their case to the American people. They include:
- Sen. Michael Bennet
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
- Sen. Cory Booker
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Sen. Kamala Harris
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- Gov. Jay Inslee
- Mayor Bill de Blasio
The format will follow the same rules set out for Tuesday night's debate. Moderators will not ask questions that require one-word answers, nor will they ask candidates to show their hands in response to questions asked. Each candidate will get a 60-second opening statement, and 60-seconds to respond to questions asked of them by CNN's moderators Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper.
Tonight will likely be the last time we see this many candidates at one time. The Democratic National Committee raised the qualifying threshold for the next round of debates scheduled in September. For many candidates, this is their last chance to make an impact on voters and pick up crucial fundraising momentum.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)
First appointed to the Senate in 2009, Bennet began his career as a law clerk and later counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Bill Clinton Administration. He went on to become the superintendent of Denver's public school system in 2005 with many believing him to be a candidate for Secretary of Education under Obama.
Bennet announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president on May 2, calling for a modernization of America's economy, emphasizing fields like artificial intelligence and increased spending on infrastructure.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
First appointed as New York's junior Senator in 2008 by Gov. David Paterson, Gillibrand has built a fiery reputation over the years as one of the Senate's most outspoken voices. Once known as a 'Blue-Dog' Democrat, Gillibrand moved to the left as Senator, supporting progressive positions such as paid family leave, a federal jobs guarantee, and the aboltion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Gillibrand first announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on March 17, pledging that she would not accept campaign donations from Political Action Committees.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
Julián Castro began his career in politics running for the San Antonio City Council in 2001. At only 26, he became the youngest city councilman in the city's history. He went on to run for Mayor, eventually winning the seat in 2009. He served multiple terms until he was tapped by President Barack Obama to become the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2014.
Castro launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in San Antonio on January 12, becoming the first Texas in the race. At 44, if elected, he would become the third-youngest president in history. Castro has emphasized Medicare-for-All, universal Pre-K an d a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
Senator Cory Booker was first elected as the junior senator from New Jersey in 2014 after serving as the 28th Mayor of Newark for several years. Booker is best known for his progressive stances, giving him the third most liberal voting record. A social liberal, Booker has supported women's rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and single-payer healthcare during his time in the Senate.
"There's nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won't find me," Booker says of his political alignment.
Booker announced his campaign on February 1st, with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Sen. Bob Menendez and every Democratic member of the House of Representatives in New Jersey endorsing his campaign.
Vice-President Joe Biden
Widely considered to be one of the top contenders in the Democratic primary, Biden has run for president twice before - once in 1988 and again in 2008. 2020 is thought to be the 76-year-old's last chance to run for president. After losing the Democratic primary to President Barack Obama in 2008, he went on to serve two terms as Obama's Vice President where his focus on foreign policy helped shape the administration's response to various problems around the world. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden grew up in Delaware where he would eventually run for the Senate in 1972 - becoming one of the youngest people elected to that position in history.
Biden announced his candidacy on April 25, 2019, as a centrist Democrat who says he's one of the few people on stage who can work with both sides of the aisle. One of his signature issues is to restore America's standing on the global stage as well as strengthening economic protections for low-income workers.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
The former prosecutor turned Senator has been representing California as its junior Senator after she was elected in 2016. Harris was born in Oakland, California, and worked in the San Francisco's District Attorney's Office in the 90s. In 2004, Harris ran for District Attorney of San Francisco and won. She was asked to serve as Gov. Jerry Brown's Attorney General in 2011, where she worked until being elected Senator.
Harris, widely considered a top contender for the job, declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President on January 21, tying the record for most money raised in the first 24-hours after her announcement. Harris has a range of progressive policy positions including supporting single-payer healthcare, protection for illegal immigrants, and lowering the tax burden on the working and middle class while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent.
Harris saw a boost in her popularity and fundraising following the last debate in Miami after she went after former vice president Joe Biden for working with segregationists and his support for busing.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Yang began his career working over the years in startups and early-growth companies as a founder or executive. In 2009, Yang founded Venture for America, a program that caught the attention of then-President Barack Obama, who selected him as a "Champion of Change" in 2012 and in 2015 as a "Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship."
Yang announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in November 2017, with his campaign focusing on what he called a "Freedom Dividend," a form of Universal Basic Income for every American over the age of 18. The Freedom Dividend is something Yang believes will be needed to combat the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automation that threatens to put people out of work over the next several decades.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 after serving for several years as a field medic for the Hawaii National Guard in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. When she was elected to the Hawaii state House at age 21 in 2002, she was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature.
In February, Gabbard launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination saying that it was in the "spirit of service above self." She's best known for her opposition to American intervention in other countries overseas, such as Syria and Iran and supports abortion rights, Medicare-for-All and same-sex marriage.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Elected to two-terms as Washington's Governor, Jay Inslee is best known for his environmental policies, and has become one of the Democratic party's biggest advocates on climate change and the need for the party to embrace a green-energy jobs program, like the Green New Deal. Inslee has a long history of government service that stretches back to the Clinton Administration when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993.
Widely considered a dark horse candidate, Inslee announced his candidacy for president on March 1, stating that his main campaign focus would be combating climate change. Inslee even asked the DNC to host a debate that would specifically focus on climate change, but that request was denied.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio currently serves as the city's 109th Mayor after being re-elected in 2017 after a landslide election. His time in office as mayor has seen new programs such as de-escalation training for police officers and the implementation of body cameras, as well as reducing prosecutions for cannabis possession. Before serving as Mayor, he was a member of the New York City Council from the 39th District and a Public Advocate of New York City in 2010.
The New York City mayor announced he was running for President in May, touting his accomplishments such as his signature pre-kindergarten program as well as New York City's low crime rate during his time in office.
Tonight will likely be the last chance for many of the lower-tier candidates to break out or have a viral moment. With the fundraising and polling goals raised for the next debate being held in September, many candidates will push to make the biggest impression they can.