What to Watch for in the Seventh Democratic Presidential Debate

NATIONWIDE — Six Democratic candidates will take the stage on January 14 in the next debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

  • When: January 14, 9-11 p.m. EST
  • Where: Drake University in Des Moines, IA
  • Who: Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The stakes are higher since this will be the last Democratic debate before the February 3 Iowa caucuses. The debate will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, a state Donald Trump won in 2016. The two-hour debate will begin at 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on CNN. For debate updates and analysis about the issues that matter to you, follow Spectrum News on Twitter and Facebook.

Just six of the seven candidates who took part in the last debate will participate this time around due to stricter polling and fundraising requirements for entry.

How did candidates qualify for the debate?

In December 2019, party officials announced that qualifiers will need to meet one of two polling requirements to get on stage in Des Moines: either receiving 5 percent in at least four national or early-state surveys approved by the party, or receiving 7 percent in two early-state polls.

In terms of fundraising, candidates must receive donations from at least 225,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. That’s up from 200,000 unique overall donors, and 800 in 20 states for the December debate in Los Angeles.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have qualified for the January 14 debate.

Which candidates did not make the debate?

Author Marianne Williamson announced on January 10 that she is dropping out of the presidential race. She was last seen on the debate stage on July 30, 2019.

“I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible effort to share our message. With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now,” Williamson said in a message on her website.

Unable to raise the needed funds, former Secretary of Housing Julián Castro departed from the race on January 2. He didn’t qualify for the Democratic debates that took place in November and December 2019.

Castro announced on January 6 that he is endorsing Warren.

Businessman Andrew Yang appeared in the December debate. He reached the donor requirement for the January 14 debate, but didn’t meet the requisite number of polls.

Also not qualifying this time around: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Colorado Sen. Michael F. Bennet, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.

What should we expect from the seventh debate?

The conflict in Iran will likely be a major topic of discussion.

The senators that are still in the presidential race returned to Capitol Hill on January 8 for a classified briefing. It was a chance for them to raise questions about President Donald Trump’s strategy.

On January 9, the House moved toward approval of a non-binding measure limiting President Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran as criticism of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general intensified. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that while the war powers resolution does not require President Trump’s signature, it nonetheless “has real teeth” because it is “a statement of the Congress of the United States.” Republicans denounced the House measure as little more than “a press release” designed to attack the president. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence urged GOP lawmakers to oppose the plan.

Pelosi said the drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani was “provocative and disproportionate.” Iran retaliated by firing missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops.

Another topic viewers should expect to hear about at the seventh debate is the December 18 impeachment of President Trump.

Pelosi says she’ll soon transmit the articles of impeachment against the president to the Senate for a trial. It’s a sign of a potential thaw in the standoff with Senate Republicans as Pelosi warns against rushing to an acquittal without a fair trial. Pelosi faces mounting pressure from Republicans and some Democrats to quit delaying the trial. It’s been more than three weeks since the House impeached Trump on charges of abuse and obstruction. Republicans say Democrats are embarrassed by their vote. But Pelosi says Democrats are “proud” of upholding the Constitution. Many on Capitol Hill expect the trial to begin next week. 

What else should Kentuckians listen for in Tuesday’s debate?

Kentuckians may hear about a number of issues important to the state during the debates. Here are a few:

  • Gun Control

Gun violence costs Kentucky over $1.3 billion a year. Be prepared to see the candidates take a strong stance on gun control when they are on the stage. All of the Democratic candidates call for some form of gun control.

  • Immigration

Governor Andy Beshear saiys his staff continues to examine a piece of legislation labeled as a priority by Kentucky Senate leaders.  Senate Bill One prohibits cities in the Commonwealth from establishing sanctuary status regarding illegal immigrants. Beshear said the issue is not currently affecting Kentucky. Many of the candidates participating in this debate suggest they would like to open pathways to citizenship if elected. 

  • Health Care

A recent Gallup poll shows 7.8% of Kentuckians are uninsured. What the candidates hope to do on health care and health insurance if elected matters to Kentuckians and will directly affect many of them long past 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.