AMNA NAWAZ: Tonight may be the third debate
for this 2020 field of Democratic presidential hopefuls, but it’s the first time that the
10 leading candidates in public opinion polls are all on the stage at once. On the ground in Houston, the site of tonight’s
debate, is our own Lisa Desjardins with more on how the debate is shaping up. Lisa, talk to me. When it comes to the lineup, to the format,
what should we expect to see tonight? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, this campus of Texas
Southern University is going to see, I think, a unique debate. First of all, let’s just look at those 10
candidates leading the poll, our first time with a single debate, all of them. As you see in that lineup, there are five
senators, three women, and two Texans in the debate, but I think the focus, Amna, clearly
will be on the center of the stage. This will be first time that former Vice President
Joe Biden will be on stage with Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts. And, Amna, she clearly has been gaining the
most in polls in the last month. And I can tell you from talking to voters
here in Houston there is a sense of excitement about her that you don’t hear about Joe Biden. The Biden campaign told us today they are
going to try and make the case that, while Elizabeth has many policy ideas, the key is
to try to implement them. They are going to say that he’s the man to
carry out those ideas. Now, one other presence here, at least above
me right now, President Trump. There is an airplane — you might hear it
— circling around this debate that says “Vote Trump 2020.” So he is still present here. And it’s something, as the Democrats battle
each other, that I think that you will also hear a lot about in this debate. AMNA NAWAZ: That explains what that buzzing
sound is. You talked some of about the candidates who
are in the — closer to the middle of the stage. What about the candidates a little bit further
out? Sometimes, these debates are the best chance
for them to punch up at the other candidates, get a moment where they get known, gain some
momentum. Who needs to have a big night tonight? LISA DESJARDINS: Historically, we have seen
in September and October before a presidential election year, that is the last chance for
some kind of candidate to break out from the bottom of the pack. And I think two to watch will be New Jersey
Senator Cory Booker and also Julian Castro, the former HUD secretary and Texan. It’s interesting, Castro’s team told me he
did a lot of precipitation specifically about changes to this debate, including longer answers
the candidates will be able to give. They will be given a full minute 15 for an
answer, which is still very short, but that does change their calculations. Also, Amna, I think it’s important for the
middle of the pack, for Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, to show that they weren’t
just fads, that they can regain their momentum from the past. But I think, most of all, this is Joe Biden’s
chance to try and electrify Democrats and Elizabeth Warren’s chance to show how she
matches up against him. And, of course, Bernie Sanders needs to regain
some momentum he’s lost. AMNA NAWAZ: So, Lisa, 10 candidates on the
stage tonight. Obviously, there’s many more people still
running for president. If they didn’t qualify for the debate stage
tonight, does that mean that’s the end of the road for their campaigns? LISA DESJARDINS: No. In fact, we already know that Tom Steyer,
the billionaire philanthropist, has qualified for next month’s debate. And I want to point out, Tulsi Gabbard, a
new poll out today by Harris and No Labels places her in fourth place in New Hampshire. It’s very significant. Anecdotally, I do hear about her from voters. So, I think there are people not on the stage
tonight worth watching. AMNA NAWAZ: That’s Lisa Desjardins on the
ground for us in Houston, the site of tonight’s Democratic presidential primary debate. Thanks, Lisa. LISA DESJARDINS: You’re welcome.

What’s at stake for the 10 candidates in the 3rd Democratic debate
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