NBC announces 1st 2020 Democratic debate lineups

NBC has announced the lineups for the first Democratic presidential debates. (Source: Gray DC)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — NBC has announced how it will divvy up the 20 Democratic candidates for the first debate of the 2020 election campaign, which will be held over two nights in Miami later this month.

Two top Democratic presidential contenders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, will appear together on the second of NBC's two debate nights.

Twenty candidates in all will debate in two, two-hour sessions on June 26-27, televised by NBC News. The network announced the pairings on Friday.

Featured on the first night will be Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Besides Biden and Sanders, the second debate night will feature California Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, author Marianne Williamson, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Democratic Party officials had promised to ensure that top tier and lagging candidates are spread roughly evenly over the two nights. But the second night features more of candidates toward the top of the polls at this stage of the campaign.

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The Democratic National Committee has announced that 20 candidates have qualified for the party's first presidential debates later this month.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts were the only major candidates out of the two dozen Democratic hopefuls who failed to meet the polling or grassroots fundraising measures required to get a debate spot.

Two lesser-known candidates, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam, also missed the cutoff, announced Thursday.

The campaign's opening debates, set for June 26-27 in Miami, will offer a prime opportunity for many White House hopefuls to reshape a race defined in recent weeks by former Vice President Joe Biden's domination of national and many early state polls.