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First Democratic debate 2019: Live updates from Night Two

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Thanks for following our live coverage of the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate, headlined by Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. This wraps up our two nights of live digital coverage of the 20 candidates who participated in the debate in Miami, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo.

Check out our in-depth coverage:

And download the NBC News app for full coverage of both nights of the first Democratic debate.

Live Blog

Fact check: Do three people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America?

Sanders said this, and he's right, according to a report published by a left-leaning think tank, Institute for Policy Studies, which used data from Forbes’ annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans.

Biden wastes no time hitting Trump

After the president’s name was rarely uttered in the first debate, Biden wastes little time before calling Trump out by name — followed immediately by Harris. 

Harris slams Trump tax cuts

Savannah Guthrie asked Kamala Harris if Democrats are obligated to outline how they plan to pay for ambitious new federal programs.

The California senator replied that nobody asked that question of the Trump administration when it proposed sweeping tax cuts. She promised to repeal Trump’s tax bill on “day one” of her presidency.

Biden defends comments on income inequality

Biden defended his comments on the wealthy, saying that we have to return dignity to the middle class and eliminate Trump’s tax cuts.

Sanders: Taxes for middle class will go up to pay for programs

The first question of the night went to Bernie Sanders. Savannah Guthrie asked the Vermont senator about tax increases on the middle class to pay for expanded social programs.

Sanders said middle-class Americans would pay higher taxes but spend less on health care.

Andrew Yang goes tie-less for debate

NBC News

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang decided not to wear a tie for the first debate — and the internet took notice. No other male candidate chose to go tie less on Thursday, and no male candidate shed their tie for Wednesday night’s debate. 

Yang, an upstart presidential candidate who has never held elected office, has garnered a lot of attention online from followers known as the Yang Gang. Read more on him here.

On Facebook, candidates promote debate and solicit donations

Facebook’s political ad archive offers a chance to take a look at how the candidates are promoting themselves ahead of the debate. What do they all have in common? Fundraising.

Based on a quick survey, here’s the gist:

Biden: “Time is running out. Be a debate day donor.”

Bernie: “What issues do you want Bernie fighting for at the debate?”

Harris: “Kamala wants to hear from you today!”

Buttigieg: “Before I take the debate stage, help us hit our goal of an additional 10,000 grassroots donations ...”

Gillibrand: “Even if you’re not sure who you’re going to support yet, consider donating $1 to my campaign to help keep me in the next round of debates.”

Yang: “It's happening. Not left, not right, forward. Join us.”

Booker, Castro, Delaney see fundraising boost after debate

Cory Booker, Julián Castro, and John Delaney all had their best online fundraising days since they launched their presidential campaigns following well-regarded performances on the first night of the first 2020 Democratic debate, campaign officials told NBC News.

The New Jersey Democratic senator, former Housing secretary and the former Maryland congressman have been languishing in the low single digits in polls and were looking for breakout moments in Wednesday night's debate. 

Castro, in particular, surpassed low expectations and was rewarded for it with a four-digit percentage spike in the number of daily contributions and new contributions he received. "Definitely our best day yet," said Castro press secretary Sawyer Hackett.

Online fundraising is critical for the candidates to meet the Democratic National Committee's debate qualification rules, which will require them to have at least 130,000 unique donors to make the stage in the third debate in September.

Biden team talks debate strategy

Biden will try to pivot to his vision for the future if his opponents start piling on against his record, three campaign officials told NBC News. His aides said the former vice president was ready to stress the need for what they call “transformational change” in America. The midterm elections showed that the American people want a check on the president and someone who will work across the aisle, and Biden brings both, aides said.

The key tonight is “for Joe Biden to be Joe Biden,” a campaign official said during the meeting with reporters Thursday afternoon. Biden’s campaign expects Sanders to hit him, and there will be an opportunity to contrast their visions. Biden’s aides said he expects for his opponents to criticize his record and is ready to defend his years in office and answer those calling for generational change.

Biden’s at the center of the debate storm

The former vice president could solidify his status as the favorite to win his party's presidential nomination with a strong debate performance Thursday night.

But more than two months into a campaign noteworthy for the candidate's limited interaction with the public and the news media, Biden could also walk out severely hobbled.

Voters, Biden's Democratic rivals and Trump will be looking for any sign that he has lost heat off his fastball as a candidate — a gaffe, a moment of indecision or an inability to explain either his past or his plans for the future. Any slip could be costly because Biden has built his lead in the polls in part on the perception of strength, and because he has struggled in recent weeks to communicate about his change on a decades-old position favoring restricting federal funding for abortion and his relationships with segregationist senators during his early time in the Senate.

Debate prep: Cramming, stand-ins, marathon practice

The two front-runners in the Democratic presidential primary, Biden and Sanders, are preparing to take the debate stage Thursday with bulls'-eyes on their backs — from the other candidates and each other.

Hickenlooper and Bennet have slammed Sanders' embrace of the term socialism. Harris and  Buttigieg have also rapped Biden — Harris  for his support of the 1994 crime bill and comments on working with segregationists; Buttigieg for his vote for the Iraq war.

All 10 candidates have been working on the most effective ways to introduce themselves to an American  public they want to lead.