Democratic Debate Lineup And Stage Order Set With Fewer Candidates, More Time On Single Night

September Democratci debate field nearly set
ABC News

ABC News and Univision will give the 10 Democratic candidates who qualified for the next debate slightly extra time to respond to questions than they were at the last event, and they will be able to make opening statements but not closing remarks.

The network also confirmed Thursday that no more than 10 candidates made the cut to qualify, meaning there will be just a single debate, on September 12. It will air from 8-11 PM ET on ABC and Univision from Texas Southern University’s Health & PE Center in Houston.

ABC News also announced where the candidates will be standing on the stage. The order, from left to right, will be: Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro. Candidates leading in the polls — Biden and Warren — were placed at the center, with the other candidates fanning out from that point based on their ranking.

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, World News Tonight anchor David Muir, correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos will moderate.

Candidates will be given one minute and 15 seconds to respond to direct questions, and 45 seconds for other responses and rebuttals, ABC News said. That is a tad more time than CNN allocated for its debate coverage on July 30-31, when candidates were given a minute to respond and 30 seconds for rebuttals. Some critics complained that candidates weren’t given enough time or had to abruptly finish when their time expired.

Meanwhile, some of the candidates who didn’t make the field had to reckon with what the missed exposure will cost their campaigns. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the race on Wednesday, as it became clear that she would not make the debate by the end-of-day deadline set for qualification. Candidates had to reach 2% in at least four national or early-state polls, and have at least 130,000 unique donors — stricter criteria than for the first two debates.

“While I’m disappointed that I won’t be on the debate stage in Houston this month, I”m excited by all the support you have shown us,” billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer wrote to his supporters on Twitter. According to a number of pundits, he needed just to reach 2% in one more poll to qualify.

Other candidates were critical of the process. Tulsi Gabbard appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on Wednesday to claim that “the whole process lacks transparency.” She complained that the Democratic National Committee has only recognized certain polls as valid in determining who qualifies.

The campaign of Michael Bennet, who also didn’t make the debate, sent a letter to DNC chairman Tom Perez asking how its debate criteria was set.

“To date, the DNC has not provided information on how or why its unprecedented debate qualification requirements were set or what the criteria will be for the eight future debates,” Chris Hughes, Bennet’s advisor, wrote. He also questioned why some polls were valid for qualification purposes and others were not.

DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa told the New York Times on Wednesday that the DNC is asking candidates to reach 2% in four polls. “That is not high at all. There have been 21 qualifying polls. That is 21 opportunities to reach 2% in four polls. That is not hard.”

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