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The moment everyone – or at least someone, somewhere – has been waiting for has finally arrived. The Democrats will hold a single debate on Thursday with the top 10 candidates (by the Democratic Party’s standards) all on the stage together.
At last, we can see how the front-runner, or runners, or almost-front-runners match up in locational and temporal proximity.
Here are five things to keep in mind when watching.
(Oh, and if you’re pining for all those double-header debates, fear not. At least 11 candidates have qualified for October’s debate, so it’ll probably be back to two nights one more time.)
Elizabeth Warren in the limelight
During the first two double-header debates, Elizabeth Warren was always slotted in the first night, mostly surrounded by lower-polling candidates. While her performances garnered favourable reviews, they were always with the asterisk that her biggest potential foil – former Vice-President Joe Biden – was absent.
This time, they get to go head-to-head – and from early indications, both sides are girding for battle.
Biden’s camp is indicating it could target Warren’s past consulting for corporate clients as evidence that she’s not as ethically pure as she makes herself out to be. He could also try to paint her “I’ve got a plan for that” progressive policy prescriptions as unattainable and off-putting to swing-state voters.
Warren won’t have to reach as far back to unearth Biden’s corporate ties. He’s raised campaign funds from finance and energy companies and executives – a big no-no for some Democratic voters. Another strategy may be to try to dent Biden’s veneer of electability, which has buoyed the former vice-president in the polls.
What’s more, the two top candidates have a history of scuffling. A Youtube clip of then-Senator Biden and then-Professor Warren debating proposed financial reform back in 2005 has recently got viral attention.