The First Democratic Debate: The Scene in Miami, and More

The candidates on stage tonight: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney.

How many candidates are here in Florida for the first Democratic debates? So many that one, former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, was spotted on Wednesday getting asked about whether he was picking up press credentials.

“I’m a candidate,” replied Mr. Hickenlooper, according to NPR’s Scott Detrow who was there. (Something similar happened to Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul in 2015.)

Candidates were nearly crossing paths inside the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. As Senator Elizabeth Warren was doing her stage walk-through, Senator Bernie Sanders was high in the rafters taping an interview on MSNBC. (Their aides tweeted photos at one another.)

While most candidates were laying relatively low before the debate, Mr. Sanders had a combative response to a question about whether he would leave the race before the Democratic convention if it was clear he would not be the nominee.

“I intend to be the Democratic nominee,” he replied. But as an NBC correspondent pressed him on complaints from “some people” that his prolonged candidacy hurt Hillary Clinton, he retorted, “‘Some people’ say that if, maybe, the system was not rigged against, I would have won the nomination and defeated Donald Trump. That’s what ‘some people’ say.”

“So I think,” Mr. Sanders added, “we’re going to play it out.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has gained on Mr. Sanders in some polls as both fight for the mantle of progressive standard-bearer. And in recent weeks, Mr. Sanders and his allies have appeared to take some oblique swipes at her.

Ms. Warren will be onstage Wednesday while Mr. Sanders won’t appear until Thursday — but it is worth watching whether Ms. Warren, directly or implicitly, proactively moves to draw contrasts with Mr. Sanders.

She has been more open in her differences with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., criticizing his high-dollar fund-raising and his references last week to working with segregationists during his time in the Senate.

Mr. Biden won’t be onstage with Ms. Warren either, but it will be notable if she sharpens her argument against him on Wednesday.

Telemundo will be the first Spanish-language network to co-host a Democratic presidential debate, bringing the candidates to thousands of Latino living rooms across the country and bringing Latinos’ concerns to prime time.

If there is a moment to address Latino voters, it’s this one. Moderators and candidates might frame their questions and responses to address the concerns of the Latino community a lot more than usual.

Immigration and the border and family separations are sure to come up. Health care and job security — Latino voter’s biggest concerns is likely to come up as well. Spanish-sprinkled answers are to be expected, especially from Mr. Castro and Mr. O’Rourke.

The debate will not just occur live on national television. It will be discussed, digested, and shaped simultaneously on the second screen of Twitter (#DemDebate is the official hashtag).

And every campaign knows it.

Agile campaigns these days write numerous tweets, both for themselves as campaign officials and for influential outsiders who might amplify their message or big moment.

Are you watching the debates? We’re eager to hear from our readers.

Please tell us in the comments what you think of the candidates’ performances. For Democrats, who did you did you support going into the debates? Has that changed? If so, tell us why.

We want to hear from Republicans, too — who has stood out to you? Did any of the candidates resonate with you or seem to pose a serious threat to President Trump’s re-election bid?

We may feature your comments in upcoming stories. Please include your name, where you live and what party you’re registered with.

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