2020 Elections

Biden and Warren face off for the first time in Democratic primary debate in Houston

Key Points
  • Ten Democratic presidential candidates took the debate stage in Houston on Thursday night as the primary field starts to dwindle.
  • It's the first time all of the top contenders, such as Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, share the same stage in 2020.
  • Business issues such as health care, climate change and trade will likely play a major role.
Democratic presidential hopefuls Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speak during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on September 12, 2019.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopefuls debated for the third time Thursday as the crowded 2020 primary field starts to dwindle, and health care dominated the discussion early. 

For the first time in the race, all of the top Democratic candidates shared the same stage. Ten candidates squared off in Houston, down from 20 in the initial two debates of the primary season. The event, hosted by ABC News, was set to go from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

Here are the presidential contenders who qualified (listed by how they appeared on the stage from left to right):

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
  • South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro

Biden sparred with Sanders and Warren over Medicare for All, the single-payer government insurance plan they support that the former vice president calls too expensive. Candidates also discussed how they plan to address racism, mass incarceration and gun control.

The debate comes as the top contenders consolidate support and more Democrats scrap their campaigns. Twenty candidates remain in the race after several hopefuls, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out.

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Multiple candidates still seek a breakout moment as they try to cut into the support enjoyed by the top three polling contenders. Biden, Sanders and Warren each have more than 16% of support in the latest national RealClearPolitics survey average — no other candidate gets more than 6.5%.

Notably, Biden and Warren shared the stage for the first time in the 2020 debate cycle on Thursday night. Warren has called for dramatic restructuring to make the economy more fair, while Biden has pushed for more incremental change to build on former President Barack Obama's policies.

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