Ten contenders are set to take the stage Thursday night in round two of the first Democratic debate of the 2020 campaign.

Thursday’s lineup features four high-polling candidates, with front-runner and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection 15.3M tune in to NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo combined for first debate MORE taking center stage.

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Joining him will be three other White House hopefuls who are considered top-tier contenders: Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection 15.3M tune in to NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo combined for first debate MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection 15.3M tune in to NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo combined for first debate MORE (D-Calif.), as well as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection 15.3M tune in to NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo combined for first debate MORE (D).

Rounding out the roster will be Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetTrump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night 5 key questions ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate MORE (D-Colo.), Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night MORE (D-N.Y.), former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn Wright HickenlooperThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night 5 key questions ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate Booker leads in talk time in first debate MORE (D), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellTrump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night 5 key questions ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate MORE (D-Calif.), author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonTrump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night 5 key questions ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate MORE and tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangTrump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night 5 key questions ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate MORE.

Follow along with live coverage here, with the debate set to kick off at 9 p.m. EDT. 

Buttigieg slams Republicans on religion

09:55pm

Buttigieg slammed Republicans’ use of religion in politics, saying the party’s immigration policies show that the GOP has lost any claim to invoking religion in political discourse. 

“Our party doesn’t talk about [religion] as much, largely for a very good reason,” Buttigieg said. “We are committed to the separation of church and state. We stand for people of any religion and of no religion.”

“For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language.”

His comments come as the Trump administration faces fierce backlash for treatment of migrants at the border.

— Julia Manchester

Swalwell sees largest spike in Google searches

9:49 p.m.

Swalwell saw the largest spike in Google searches of all the candidates in the debate just before the halfway mark, according to Google Trends

The California lawmaker saw a 3,400 percent increase in searches for his name, followed by Gillibrand with a 3,100 percent spike and Williamson with a 2,800 percent increase. 

Williamson’s name was one of the most popular searches of the night, seeing spike in popularity after she began talking almost thirty minutes into the debate, according to a separate Google Trends analysis.

–Emily Birnbaum

Harris: ‘Release these children from cages’

9:43 p.m.

Harris got a warm response from the audience after vowing to “release these children from cages,” a reference to the ongoing saga around the government’s treatment of detained migrants.

Harris also said that on the first day of her would-be presidency, she would reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program through executive action, and extend delayed deportation protections for the parents of undocumented people who came to the country as minors.

Her answer all came with a scathing assessment of Trump’s treatment of undocumented immigrants.

“He says go back to where you came from,” Harris said. “That is not reflective of our values or our America and it’s got to end.”

— Max Greenwood

Trump slams Democrats on health care for undocumented immigrants

9:41 p.m.

— Julia Manchester

Commercial break conversation

9:39 p.m.

During the last commercial break, Biden stayed on stage for a private word with Buttigieg and also a private word with Swalwell, who had just attacked him for his age.

–Jonathan Easley

Biden: ‘I am against any Democrat who takes down ObamaCare’

9:33 p.m.

Biden defended his former boss’ signature health care law, saying he would be against any Democrat who takes down ObamaCare.

He said the “quickest, fastest way to” fixing health care in the U.S. is to “build on ObamaCare, to build on what we did.”

Biden added that he would make sure “everyone, whether they have private insurance, employer insurance, or no insurance, they, in fact, could buy into the exchange to a Medicare-like plan.”

“I’m against any Democrat that takes down ObamaCare, and any Republican who takes down ObamaCare,” Biden said, an apparent shot at “Medicare for All,” a proposal put forth by Sanders, who was standing next to him on the debate stage.

— Julia Manchester

Sanders stays on defensive

9:31 p.m.

Sanders seems to be spending quite a bit of time on the defensive, responding to questions about possible tax hikes under his would-be administration or the logistical challenges of implementing “Medicare for All” on a national level.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the senator, who has been aching to explain his policy proposals to a broader audience.

That same strategy was on display earlier this month when Sanders delivered a speech in Washington detailing his democratic socialist ideology — a speech that he has long insisted on giving.

Like Warren, Sanders has cast himself as a candidate that would bring about bold change, and he sees explaining his views as paramount to his success.

— Max Greenwood

Taxes take center stage in opening stages

9:25 p.m 

Taxes took center stage in the opening questions of the debate.

The first question moderators asked went to Sanders, on whether he would raise taxes on the middle-class to pay for his proposals. 

Biden said that the country has “massive income inequality” and can reduce tax loopholes. He added he wants to eliminate President Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy.

Harris touted her proposal to give low- and middle-class household a tax credit of up to $6,000, or $500 per month.

— Naomi Jagoda

Swallwell to Biden: Time for a new generation

9:22 p.m.

Swalwell landed the first punch on Biden, saying it’s time for the former vice president to “pass the torch” to a new generation of leadership.

That’s a talking point that Swalwell, 38, is expected to repeat throughout the night. Still, his remark drew a quick rebuke from Biden, 76.

“I’m still holding onto that torch,” Biden said in response.

Another candidate on stage may try to make the generational argument as well: Buttigieg. At just 37 years old, the South Bend mayor would be the youngest major party presidential nominee in history if he wins the Democratic nomination next year. He’s frequently called for a new generation of leadership in Washington.

— Max Greenwood

Bennet goes after Sanders for ‘Medicare for All’

9:21 p.m.

Bennet went on the offensive against Sanders, slamming his “Medicare for All” proposal.

Bennet said the plan was rejected in Sanders’s home state of Vermont because of the high cost of taxes related to the plan.

The Colorado senator went on to say that instead of enacting Medicare for All, the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, should be built upon.

— Julia Manchester 

Sanders, like Biden, takes a dig at Trump

9:14 p.m.

Sanders is taking a shot at Trump of his own as he looks to bolster his credentials as the candidate best equipped to defeat the president in 2020.

“The last poll had us 10 points ahead of Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “Because the American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar, a racist.”

Sanders has built much of his career around sweeping calls for political revolution – a far more ideological approach than most other candidates on stage. But in an election in which Democratic voters are consumed with defeating Trump, Sanders appears to be making a stronger argument that he’s a practical choice for president.

— Max Greenwood

Sanders gets first question of the night

9:10 p.m.

Sanders got the first question of the night, and was pressed on his proposed “Medicare for All” plan.

“We think it is time for change, real change. And by that we mean health care, in my view, is a human right,” Sanders said. 

Sanders’s main rival on the left, Warren, was asked the first question of the night on Wednesday.

Warren was the highest polling candidate on the first night of the 2020 Democratic debate.

Biden was asked the second question on Thursday evening.

— Julia Manchester 

Right away, Biden attacks Trump

9:07 p.m.

Joe Biden is out of the gate with an attack on Trump.

“Donald Trump thinks Wall Street built America,” Biden said. “Ordinary middle-class Americans built America.”

That’s the first shot at Trump of the second night of debates – and it came less than five minutes in. That it came from Biden reinforces the former vice president’s central campaign theme: more important than drastic social and political change is defeating the man in the White House.

— Max Greenwood

Hickenlooper calls for Democrats to stay away from socialism

9:06 p.m.

Hickenlooper, a centrist in the primary field, called on his fellow candidates to strongly oppose socialism, warning the label could be a potent avenue for attack for Republicans.

“I think that the bottom line is if we don’t clearly define that we are not socialist, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialist,” he said.

“If you look at the Green New Deal, and I admire the sense of urgency and how important it is to do climate change, I’m a scientist, but we can’t promise every American a government job. If you want to get universal health care coverage, I believe health care is a right and not a privilege, but you can’t expect to eliminate private insurance for 180 million people, many of whom don’t want to give it up.”

— Tal Axelrod

The view from Iowa: Angst about Biden

9:03 p.m.

GRINNELL, Iowa — Democratic activists gathering at a local brewery in this small town an hour east of Des Moines say they are excited for Thursday’s debate, with a big caveat: They don’t want it to turn into a shoving contest between the two highest-polling candidates on stage.

Biden and Sanders will stand next to each other at center stage tonight.

“If Biden and Bernie just end up sniping at each other all night, that’s why I got a cocktail and not a beer,” said Paula Smith, who teaches at Grinnell College.

There is little enthusiasm in the room for Biden, who showed up two and a half hours late for his last campaign stop in Grinnell back in 2007.

“He keeps putting his foot in his mouth. He can’t stop saying creepy things to young women,” said Rowan Queathen, a graduate student. “I’m not super impressed with his policy positions.”

— Reid Wilson

Some winners start to emerge from 1st night

8:34 p.m.

In The Hill’s takeaways from Day 1 of the first Democratic debate, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Trump campaign official: Democratic debate a ‘two-hour infomercial’ for president’s reelection Delaney swipes at Warren: She ‘outsourced health care to someone who isn’t even a Democrat’ MORE (Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerMcConnell pledges to work with Democratic president on Supreme Court vacancy Warren uses debate stage to embrace ‘Medicare for All’ Poll: 42 percent believe speaking Spanish during the debates is ‘pandering’ MORE (N.J.), along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, were seen as having had shining moments.

A set of polls by Morning Consult and FiveThirtyEight taken before and after the debate back up that perception. All three saw the clearest gains in their favorable ratings.

Warren had already been gaining momentum, overtaking chief progressive rival Sanders in some polls.

But Booker and Castro stand to benefit immensely from the favorable reaction to their performance after consistently polling low in the Democratic field.

How much that can be sustained remains to be seen. It’s a long way before Iowa in 2020, and previous candidates with good debate performances went on to falter, like former tech executive Carly Fiorina in the 2016 Republican primaries.

— The Hill Staff

Biden signs ‘No Fossil Fuel Money’ pledge

8:20 p.m.

Just hours before the start of his debate, Biden vowed not to take any donations for his White House bid from the PACs, lobbyists or executives of fossil fuel companies. 

He is the 20th Democrat to sign after initially pledging early this month to do so. Biden had faced some swipes about his environmental record early in the race. 

But he ended up garnering praise after releasing his comprehensive environmental plan.

Climate change was unexpectedly not a main topic of discussion at the Wednesday debate, despite the push by some 2020 contenders to devote a whole debate to the subject.

That leaves open the question of how much the topic will be discussed on Thursday. 

— The Hill Staff

Who will speak Spanish?

8:15 p.m.

There are weighty questions to be pondered ahead of tonight, like what kind of night Biden will have.

But, to some, the question will be who will dare speak Spanish?

Three Democratic contenders unveiled their Spanish chops. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkePoll: 42 percent believe speaking Spanish during the debates is ‘pandering’ The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats’ first debate night CNN’s Van Jones on O’Rourke after debate: ‘I think he’s done’ MORE‘s answer in the language even prompted a look from Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) that promptly went viral.

The 10 appearing Thursday are not known to speak Spanish, except polyglot Buttigieg, who can speak some Spanish, in addition to Norwegian, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari Persian, Norwegian and French. 

Strategists warn using Spanish can be a double-edged sword: It can be welcomed as an attempt to court Latinos, but it can also backfire if seen as pandering, especially when executed poorly.

— The Hill Staff

90 minutes out

7:25 p.m.

It’s almost time for the first Democratic primary debate — again.

As another group of 10 candidates prepare to take the stage, we’ve got a few previews to help you prepare for what’s to come. 

Here are 5 things to watch for in tonight’s debate. 

Here is a complete guide about what to expect tonight.

And if you want to catch up on the questions and tussles from the first debate, here’s our live blog from last night.

— The Hill Staff

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