Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker on stage

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker on stage

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Welcome to the second night of the Democratic debate, where the leading candidate – Joe Biden – plans to be less “polite” as his competitors angle to put a target on his back.

The former vice president never came up during the first night in Detroit as progressive and centrist candidates battled for the soul of the Democratic Party. Tonight, Biden will be center stage, and is likely to take incoming fire from his lesser-known rivals. 

Another dynamic to watch: How the candidates handle race. Divisions within the field over racism were thrust to the fore when Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California last shared a stage. That was before President Donald Trump slammed four congresswomen of color and described Baltimore, a majority black city, as a “rodent infested mess.”

Biden Harris will share center stage.

Unlike Tuesday night, when the candidates were all white, tonight’s debate features two African Americans (Harris and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey), one Hispanic (Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro), one Asian (businessman Andrew Yang), and one American Samoan (Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii). 

On stage, from left to right: Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Castro, Booker, Biden, Harris, Yang, Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Recap: First night of Democratic debate reveals splits in party 

Moderators are Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper. The format will be similar to Tuesday night’s showdown, with 60-second opening statements and 60 seconds to answer questions. The format drew criticism, so it’ll be worth watching whether  moderators give the candidates a little more freedom tonight to finish their answers.   

Format fight: Too many sound bites, too much Delaney: Debate draws complaints

The debates begin at 8 p.m. EDT.

– John Fritze

Diversity on stage

After a night where all 10 Democratic presidential candidates on the debate stage were white, round two will showcase the party’s diversity: Half the participants are minorities.

Cory Booker and Kamala Harris are African American, Julian Castro is Hispanic. Tulsi Gabbard is of Samoan descent. Andrew Yang is Asian.

Joining them will be Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee.

Race is expected to be a hot topic tonight in the wake of President Donald Trump’s attacks on four minority congresswomen and a majority-black congressional district in Baltimore represented by Democrat Elijah Cummings, an African American.

It’s notable that nearly nine of every 10 residents in Detroit, the city hosting the debate, is a minority.

– Ledyard King

Sanders ‘danger zone’

As the next round of candidates prepared to take the stage, some of Tuesday night’s participants were continuing their debate on social media.

“Pete Buttigieg is right,” Sanders tweeted Wednesday night. “We need a candidate with the right vision for America.”

His tweet included a video showing him explaining his vision on health care and student debt as part of his response to an exchange during the debate about the difference in his age – 77 – and Buttigieg’s 37 years. 

Asked whether voters should take a candidate’s age into consideration, Buttigieg had said: “I don’t care about how old you are. I care about your vision.”

But Buttigieg did care about Sanders’ physical expressiveness.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor said after the debate that one of the most difficult aspects had been avoiding Sanders’ hand.

“Well they set those podiums up very close to each other,” Buttigieg said on CNN, “so I was a little bit in the danger zone there.”

– Maureen Groppe

Aviator snaps

Snapchat users got to try out some Joe Biden fashion Wednesday.

The Biden campaign took out an ad on the popular social media platform that allowed users to apply an aviator shades filter to their snaps. 

Age came up during the first night of the debate. Biden, 76, could face the question tonight, especially as the party wrestles with whether to embrace a new generation of leaders. Regardless, engaging with younger voters on social media is a must-do. If you don’t know what a Snapchat filter is, then Biden wasn’t targeting you with this effort.    

Biden has made his Ray-Ban aviators a potent political symbol. Back in 2014, then vice president Biden opened a new Instagram account that featured a photo of the iconic shades on his desk.”I’m on Team Joe,” the Snapchat filter reads. 

– John Fritze

Democrats beat ‘Bachelorette’

The ratings are in for Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, and for CNN, the news was a mixed bag.

Some 8.7 million viewers watched the debate live on CNN, according to the Nielsen ratings. Another 2.8 million watched on CNN’s live stream, the cable network said.

The debate – the first of two in Detroit this week – even won the ratings race against The Bachelorette season finale, which aired the same time on ABC and drew 7.4 million viewers.

But debate viewership declined sharply – by 7 million fewer viewers, to be exact – from the candidates’ first face-off in Miami earlier this summer. The June 26 debate was broadcast by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo and was seen by 15.3 million viewers.

CNN’s ratings for this week’s debates could rebound during the second round, which takes place tonight. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and nine other candidates will take the stage.

– Michael Collins

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