Democrats square off in the fifth 2020 presidential primary debate in Atlanta

Key Points
  • Ten Democratic presidential candidates face off in the fifth 2020 primary debate in Atlanta.
  • Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are jockeying for position at the top of the field, while Kamala Harris is seeking to reverse slumping support.
  • Even as the Iowa caucuses approach, more candidates are considering entering the race.
Watch the key moments from the fifth Democratic presidential debate
Watch the key moments from the fifth Democratic presidential debate

Democratic presidential hopefuls took the stage together for the fifth time Wednesday night as the top contenders jockey for position and the flagging candidates look for a breakout moment.

CNBC tweet: Watch the debate live here.

The 2020 presidential primary debate runs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET in Atlanta. The event, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, features 10 contenders for the Democratic nomination.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
  • South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Billionaire activist Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

The presidential hopefuls quickly faced questions about the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump following the Wednesday testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. They also addressed taxes, health care, child care and criminal justice.

Read more coverage from the debate:

Elizabeth Warren pushes her wealth tax plan as a way to unite the country during Democratic primary debate

Joe Biden says he would let Justice Department decide whether to prosecute Trump if he is elected

The qualifying standards for debates have grown tougher as the race inches closer to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses in February. Seventeen Democratic candidates remain in the race, and hopefuls including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., find themselves banished from the debate stage.

(L-R) Democratic presidential hopefuls New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang arrive for the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

Though nominating contests start in less than three months, the field continues to morph as some Democrats worry about the current contenders' ability to beat Trump in next year's general election. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick jumped into the race earlier this month.

Ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also considering whether to enter the fold.

Biden, Warren and Sanders have dominated both national and early state polls during most of the primary. Buttigieg has started to gain more ground in recent surveys of Iowa, which could open him to more attacks from competitors.

As she gained a foothold as one of the race's clear leaders last month, Warren started to face more skepticism from her rivals. Biden and Buttigieg have targeted her plan for "Medicare for All" and appear poised to do so again on Wednesday night.

At the same time, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., find themselves slumping in the polls. Harris recently redirected her campaign resources to Iowa as she struggles to keep up with the top tier of candidates.

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