Democrats Debate in Houston Tonight: Here's a Primer on All Ten Candidates

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Ten Democrats take the stage tonight for round three of the Democratic Presidential Debates happening tonight in Houston and we have all you need to know about the candidates and how to watch right here.

Hosted by ABC News and Univision, the debate, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET Thursday (Sept. 12) and run for about three hours, will take place at Texas Southern University, a historically black college. It will be moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Linsey Davis and Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

People canalso stream the debates online at, ABC News Live, YouTube, Facebook Watch and Twitter.

In order to qualify for tonight’s debate, each candidate had to poll at 2% in at least four polls, whether that is nationally or in early primary states. Candidates also needed to have at least 130,000 donors from 20 different states with at least 400 from each state.

Tonight’s candidates include:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California
  • South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
  • Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro

Below is a more complete description of each candidate

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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 with 2020 widely considered to be the 76-year-old's last chance to run for president. After losing to President Barack Obama in 2008, he went on to serve two terms as Obama's Vice President. 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.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Senator Elizabeth Warren was elected Senator on Jan. 3, 2013 after defeating Sen. Scott Brown. Over the years, she's served as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and was a big part in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in which she served as its first Special Adviser under President Barack Obama.

A longtime critic of President Donald Trump, she announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election at a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts in February, and has offered a series of policy-focused plans including ways to reduce student loan debt and offer free tuition to public colleges. She's also voiced support for plans to make large corporations pay more in taxes and better regulate large technology companies, and plans to address opioid addiction. She has introduced an “Economic Patriotism” plan, intended to create opportunities for American workers, and proposals targeted at Donald Trump, including one that would make it permissible to indict a sitting president.

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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

A firebrand independent Senator from Vermont (who caucuses with Democrats), this is Sanders' second swing at the Democratic nomination for President after he unsuccessfully ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016. His career in politics began when he was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981 by a margin of only ten votes. In 1990, Sanders ran for Vermont's house seat and won, representing the state until he ran for Senate in 2006.

Sanders announced his presidential campaign on February 19 on Vermont Public Radio. The self-described Democratic Socialist has a range of progressive policy positions that include things like bold action on Climate Change, Medicare-for-all, and a tax system that is fair, progressive and transparent.

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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.

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Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg

A long-shot campaigner, Buttigieg caught the attention of Democrats nationwide after he wrote an essay that chronicled why Democrats lost in 2016 and how they could recover. Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan in 2014 as an intelligence officer in the Navy reserve, was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011.

One of the most progressive politicians running, Buttigieg announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on April 14. As one of the more progressive politicians running, Buttigieg is campaigning on not only his youthful appeal to voters, but also his support for universal healthcare, reducing income inequality, and universal background checks for firearms purchases.

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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.

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Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

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.

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Rep. Beto O'Rourke

O'Rourke shot to national prominence after he nearly unseated Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the 2018 midterm elections. However, he failed to garner enough votes to flip the seat for Democrats and decided to turn his eye to national office with a run for President in 2020. The 46-year-old native of El Paso, Texas, was the representative for Texas' 16th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019. Before that, he worked on the El Paso city council as a councilmember and was the co-founder of a successful software startup that his wife now runs.

O'Rourke has shown support for a Medicare for All plan that would allow ordinary Americans to buy into Medicare, which is often dubbed the "Public Option." He's also called for the elimination of border walls in El Paso and has called for a broad policy proposal that would help combat climate change.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Senator Amy Klobuchar is the senior Senator representing Minnesota after she assumed office in 2007. Before becoming elected Senator, Klobuchar worked as a partner at two Minneapolis law firms until she was elected county attorney for Hennepin County in 1998. She was first elected to Minnesota's Senate in 2006, becoming the state's first elected female Senator. She was re-elected handily in 2012 and 2018.

Klobuchar has been rated as one of the more moderate Democrats running for president. She is pro-choice on abortion, supports LGBTQ rights and Obamacare and was highly critical of the Iraq war. She's also one of the more prolific Senators in office, passing more legislation than any other senator by the end of the 114th Congress. According to, she's sponsored, or co-sponsored 111 pieces of legislation that's become law. During President Donald Trump's tenure in office, she's voted with him 31.1 percent of the time. Her signature issue is legislation to combat the opioid crisis and drug addiction as well as lower the cost of prescription drugs.

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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.

Photos: Getty Images

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