With a crowded field of politicians vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, the first Democratic debates have been split into two nights to give the 20 qualifying candidates an equal chance to discuss important issues and campaign promises in front of a national audience.
The first debate takes place Wednesday night from 9-11 p.m. ET on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, and the second airs Thursday at the same time. NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com and YouTube will all feature a live feed of the debates as well.
Wednesday’s debate features Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Gov. Jay Inslee, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tim Ryan and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
On Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Eric Swalwell, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang will take the stage. Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the speakers.
The two-hour debates will consist of five parts with four commercial breaks, and candidates will have one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds for any follow-ups. Due to the large number of speakers, the candidates will only have time to make closing statements and not opening remarks.
Each candidate qualified for the first debates by receiving at least 1% of support in three approved polls or by garnering campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors from 20 different states. NBC split the candidates into two groups with polling averages above and below 2%, then randomly divided the tiers into the two nights of debates. Gov. Steve Bullock, Rep. Seth Moulton and Mayor Wane Messam did not qualify for the first contests, and former Rep. Joe Sestak entered the race too late to qualify.
The next debates will take place on July 30 and 31.