PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Voters got a lengthy look at candidates over the last two days in the Democratic debates.
Five-and-a-half hours of debate on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Detriot were part of a process to introduce Democratic presidential candidates to a national audience.
Three are familiar to many: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
But most of the others are new to many voters.
The ones with the greatest polling and money-raising traction so far are Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Pete Butttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, and Amy Klobuchar.
In many ways, these debates have highlighted differences between the more liberal Democrats like Sanders, Warren. And Harris and the more moderate ones like Biden.
Harris: “Our plan will bring health care to all Americans under a Medicare-For-All system.”
Biden: “You notice there’s no talk that the cost of the plan in ten years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance.”
John Delaney: “I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises.”
Warren: “You know I don’t understand why anyone goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we can’t do and really fight for.”
While many Democrats want to decriminalize border crossings, Biden defended deportations under Barack Obama.
“If you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back,” said Biden. “It’s a crime.”
The next debates are scheduled for Sept. 12th and 13th with higher thresholds of fund-raising and polling required to be included.
Right now, seven candidates have qualified to debate: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke.
Three others close to qualifying: Klobuchar, Castro, and Yang.
Which means instead of two debate nights, we might just have one.
Candidates have until Aug. 28th to score 2 percent support in at least four polls and have 130,000 donors to qualify.
If candidates reach that, they’re in the mid-September debate.
Now, who’s watching these debates?
Last night, 10 million viewers tuned in, up from 8 million the night before.
Conventional wisdom is that Biden held his own, but there were no real knockouts on either night.
If you’re keeping track, the first votes will be cast in the Iowa Caucus in 26 weeks.