Tonight is the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus next month. Each candidate is essentially making his or her closing statement before Iowa engages in its hella weird, rather archaic primary system that will let us know who white America is really feeling at the moment. With Bernie Sanders allegedly throwing shade at Elizabeth Warren’s electoral chances, Pete Buttigieg losing momentum and Tom Steyer apparently being a thing, here is a rundown of all you need to know for tonight’s debate.
The Smallest, Least Diverse Debate So Far
The 2020 primaries have already seen most of candidates of color drop out. After Cory Booker dropped out yesterday, this left Andrew Yang as the only notable candidate of color (sorry, Deval Patrick). Yang will not be on the debate stage tonight; while he met the donor requirements, he missed the national polling threshold. This leaves Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar; former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and, somewhat inexplicably, billionaire Tom Steyer, who South Carolina seems to really be riding for.
Foreign Policy Will Be Front and Center
Since last month’s debate, the currently impeached president straight up assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, triggering an international crisis as a result. An Iranian missile attack struck U.S. bases in Iraq and accidentally brought down a passenger plane as a result. You can expect the candidates to be grilled on their strategy on how they will handle the growing tensions with Iran. Biden, in particular, is due to face renewed scrutiny for his 2002 vote in favor for the war in Iraq.
Sanders versus Warren (?)
On Monday, a report came out alleging that Sanders told Warren that he didn’t think a woman could win the next election. Warren issued a statement later in the day confirming that the exchange took place. Expect the moderators to get messy off the jump and confront Sanders on what exactly he said in the meeting. Warren’s statement seemed to indicate a desire to move on from the issue, so it remains to be seen how or even if the tea will be spilled this evening.
Battle of the Moderates
Klobuchar, Buttigieg and Biden are all aiming for the same electorate—moderate Democrats who just want to restore civility and the status quo that apparently has just been so great for middle-class white folks. Biden’s arguments have basically boiled down to, “Come on, it’s me.” Buttigieg has positioned himself as the younger and more quietly racist version of Biden. Klobuchar has argued her ability to win in counties that Trump won will translate into wins nationwide. This is their last chance to prove to Iowa voters just who among them is the most middle of the road.
On Wednesday, the House will vote to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated the impeachment trial could start this week, with the heart of the trial beginning on Tuesday. This could possibly remove Sens. Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar from the campaign trail until the trial is concluded. Tonight’s debate will be one of the last few times that all three will be able to state their case for candidacy to the American public until the trial concludes.
So that about wraps it up, folks. Expect there to be some unifying moment between Warren and Sanders, Biden to do some old-man shit and for Buttigieg to tell us how not racist he is because he’s got a new black friend. Oh, and I guess Tom Steyer will be standing on the sidelines, presumably handing out cups of water to each the candidates and politely nodding his head at their points.