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First Democratic debate 2019: Live updates from Night Two

Live blog from the first Democratic debate for the 2020 presidential election. Follow NBC News' coverage of Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and more.

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.

1198d ago / 1:10 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 1:10 AM UTC

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. 

1198d ago / 1:09 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 1:08 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 1:06 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 1:04 AM UTC

Andrew Yang goes tie-less for debate

Andrew Yang at the democratic 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.

1198d ago / 1:01 AM UTC

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.”

1198d ago / 12:56 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 12:54 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 12:50 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 12:44 AM UTC

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.

1198d ago / 12:38 AM UTC

What to watch for in tonight's debate

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It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for: The Democratic front-runner, Biden, versus the man who’s been in second or third in the polling, Sanders, taking on the party’s central ideological fight: Obama-era pragmatism versus Sanders’ democratic socialism. Night Two also features top-tier Democrats Harris, of California, long considered a contender for the party’s presidential nomination, and Buttigieg, who’s had the most surprising rise of the Democratic race. Can they steal Biden and Bernie’s thunder?

As last night proved, the candidates hovering around 1 percent have every incentive to try to make their marks to qualify for future debates. Tonight’s other debate participants include Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Rep. Eric Swalwell of California; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and self-help guru Marianne Williamson.

1198d ago / 12:33 AM UTC

They all scream for....

Bernie might have the Ben & Jerry’s bloc, but it looks like Biden has his own ice cream promotion going on outside the debate venue in Miami. NBC News’ Gary Grumbach caught up with the cone committee yesterday.

1198d ago / 12:32 AM UTC

How often the candidates mention Trump (live updates)

On a crowded debate stage with limited speaking time, the Democratic candidates will be faced with a choice as they introduce themselves to the public: push their own policy agenda or try to score points by attacking Trump. We’ll keep track throughout Night Two of how many times each candidate mentions the president.

1198d ago / 12:27 AM UTC

Trump, barely mentioned, unscathed

Trump was the big winner Wednesday night. The Republican commander in chief, who was on his way to an economic summit in Osaka, Japan, emerged from the scrap largely unscathed — barely mentioned at all — even though he is a uniquely antagonizing and energizing force for Democratic voters.

For long stretches, it seemed, the Democratic candidates completely forgot about the man at the center of pretty much every discussion among Democrats for the last two-plus years. The obvious reason: The motivation to beat each other was, on this night, more urgent than defeating Trump — a life-or-death moment for some of their campaigns.

1198d ago / 12:20 AM UTC

Beware the poll trolls

If you skipped last night's debate and caught up with online polls, you might have thought Tulsi Gabbard and Bill de Blasio won the evening.

That's because trolling campaigns descended on some of the online polls set up after the debate, according to reporting from NBC News' Ben Collins and Ben Popken. Those polls were then picked up by some media outlets as legitimate responses to the evening's debate.

The manipulation campaigns are a reminder that politics on the internet remains fraught with attempts to push particular narratives that are often driven by a variety of interests. Yes, some foreign, but many domestic.

1198d ago / 12:14 AM UTC

Two hours of talking, yet much left unsaid

With 10 candidates on stage and five moderators posing questions on Night One, Democrats said a lot Wednesday night. But there were a variety of topics that have dominated the national political conversation but didn’t get touched on during the action-packed two hours. Here are the issues we’ll be listening for tonight: 

  • Affirmative action
  • Black Lives Matter
  • The census and the citizenship question
  • Coal as a resource and for jobs
  • Data privacy and surveillance
  • Disinformation in 2016 election
  • The Green New Deal
  • Hate crimes and involvement with white supremacist organizations
  • Israel and the Palestinians
  • NAFTA and other trade deals
  • Obamacare
  • Reparations
  • Sexual harassment
  • Social Security
  • Teacher pay and school quality
  • Trans-gender military service
  • Vaccination issues and the return of diseases that used to be rare
1198d ago / 12:09 AM UTC

Now that you’ve seen the candidates, tell us how you feel

Click or tap to tell us how you feel about the candidate or the state of the country. Your confession could be featured on NBC News/MSNBC throughout the 2020 election.

1198d ago / 12:04 AM UTC

Castro nabbed the spotlight. Now he has to keep it

Julián Castro, who has been frustrated by the relative lack of attention paid to his campaign up to now, found his way to the spotlight Wednesday — and now he has to keep it.

The housing secretary under President Barack Obama and the mayor of San Antonio before that not only broke from the pack but did so by hammering his fellow Texan on stage, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, whom Castro campaigned for when O’Rourke ran for the Senate in 2018.

1198d ago / 11:58 PM UTC

Warren ran away with debate, progressive survey says

Warren was the clear winner of Wednesday night's debate among members of the progressive group Indivisible, according to the results of its flash poll.

The group sent text messages to thousands of its members across the country shortly after the conclusion of the first night to ask which candidate "impressed" most. They received responses from 6,497 people in all 50 states.

1198d ago / 11:51 PM UTC

Who won Night One?

The first night of the first Democratic presidential debate offered many Americans their first real look at the sprawling 2020 field and gave the candidates a chance to try to break out from the pack. Here's who won, who disappeared on stage and will hope for better luck next time (in order of stage appearance).

1198d ago / 11:44 PM UTC

Dems’ español thrills some, turns off others

Some of the Democratic candidates touted their Spanish-speaking skills in the first night’s debate, impressing some Latinos but leaving others in a huff. The español rolled off the tongues of some better than others but was clearly an attempt to reach out to the Latino electorate and a nod to the "Latinidad" of Miami, where the debate was held and where 70 percent of residents are Hispanic.

1198d ago / 11:33 PM UTC

Dems agree Trump economy 'rigged'

At the first debate of the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and the nine other candidates charged that the "rigged" economy under Trump is benefiting only the rich, while they disagreed over the border crisis, military power and how to improve the nation's health care system.

1198d ago / 11:18 PM UTC

Here are the special guests each candidate invited

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California entered the debate area on Thursday wearing an orange ribbon to indicate his support for gun reform, which has been a signature issue of his campaign platform. In particular, he wore it in the memory of Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last year. His guests at Thursday's debate include her father, Fred Guttenberg, and Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings.

Other candidates were also joined by special guests. 

Marianne Williamson brought her daughter, India Williamson, and Frances Fisher, an actress who endorsed the candidate. While Bernie Sanders invited family and staff, Joe Biden was joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom and Rev. Laurie Steele of Cincinnati. Michael Bennet brought his daughter Caroline.

Pete Buttigieg came with the largest announced entourage. He invited his mother, Anne Buttigieg, and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg — as well as Sean Shaw, the first black Democratic nominee for attorney general in Florida; Florida state Rep. Adam Hattersly; Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis; and Victoria Hernandez, the director of government affairs at Miami-Dade College, among other guests.

John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand had not announced whom they have invited.

1198d ago / 11:18 PM UTC

Must-see TV

More than 15 million Americans tuned in to Night One of the first Democratic presidential debate, suggesting strong interest among voters in hearing from possible opponents to Trump.

Another 9 million viewers watched via livestreams hosted across the internet. 

Can Thursday's debate top those numbers? With former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others, it'll have a shot.

1198d ago / 11:09 PM UTC

Factchecking Night One: What’s true and false


As the first 10 Democratic presidential candidates jostled to make their views heard on the first night of debate amid a historically crowded field of candidates, NBC News fact checked their various claims on everything from the number of daily gun deaths to Americans' support for Roe v. Wade.

1198d ago / 11:00 PM UTC

Game on for Bernie Sanders

All your votes are belong to Bernie.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made some waves in the gaming community this week by becoming one of the first presidential candidate to create a channel on Twitch, the video game-focused streaming platform that is quite possibly the most underrated tech platform in terms of its reach and popularity.

Sanders joins Andrew Yang, whose digital savvy already included a Twitch channel.

The channel is hosting livestreams before and after Thursday's debate.

1198d ago / 10:53 PM UTC

Read the full Night One transcript, sortable by topic

We annotated the debate transcript so you can find candidate answers on the top issues of the night.

1198d ago / 10:40 PM UTC

Top lines from the first night

Here are each of the 10 candidates' most memorable and stand-out moment of Night One, in order of how they appeared on stage.

1198d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

More memorable moments

The Democratic presidential primary has been largely — though not completely feud-free — to date. But during the first night of the primary debate in Miami, some took the opportunity to draw sharp contrasts with their opponents — with the targets themselves standing just a few feet away on stage. Here are a few of those memorable moments.

1198d ago / 10:21 PM UTC

Missed Night One? Watch the 5-minute highlights

Ten of the 2020 presidential candidates faced off in round one of the first Democratic debate, which saw a technical glitch and sparring over immigration and health care.

1198d ago / 10:04 PM UTC

Here are the rules

The Democratic candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups. And there will be no opening statements, though they will have a chance to deliver closing remarks.

The two-hour debate will zip by quickly, with five segments separated by four commercial breaks. With so many candidates, there's only so much time to go around.

"It's a little bit of exaggeration calling it a debate," former Vice President Joe Biden joked in Iowa earlier this month. "It's like a lightning round."

For many lesser-known candidates, the debate will their first chance to introduce themselves to a larger national audience, so they know they have to try to pack a lot into a small amount of time.

1198d ago / 10:04 PM UTC

De Blasio apologizes after quoting Che Guevara at South Florida rally

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio apologized Thursday for quoting Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara during a Wednesday night speech at a union rally in South Florida.

“I did not know the phrase I used in Miami today was associated with Che Guevara & I did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way,” de Blasio tweeted. “I certainly apologize for not understanding that history. I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike.”

De Blasio found himself in hot water over the remarks, with the Florida Democratic Party chair calling on him to apologize.

“Mayor Bill DeBlasio does not speak for Floridians or the Florida Democratic Party and he would be wise to apologize,” Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democrats, tweeted Thursday.

New York City Mayor and and presidential candidate Bill de Blasio joins a strikers at Miami International Airport on June 27, 2019. During his speech, he said the Spanish slogan "hasta la victoria siempre," a phrase associated with revolutionary leader Che Guevara and a rally cry for Fidel Castro.Marcus Lim / AP

After Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, de Blasio, who seeks to position himself in the presidential race as a champion of “working people,” ended a speech to a union crowd by chanting Guevara’s slogan “hasta la victoria siempre” or “until victory, always.”

He came under fire from Cuban Floridians, many of whom fled the nation after the communist revolution there. On Thursday afternoon, the remarks were the lead story on the Miami Herald’s website. 

President Donald Trump’s campaign communications director, Tim Murtaugh, took aim at the comments Thursday, tweeting, “When you’re quoting murderous communist sociopaths, it probably means you’re losing. Especially in Miami."

1198d ago / 10:03 PM UTC

Welcome to tonight’s liveblog

Welcome to NBC News’ liveblog of the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate! We'll be live-streaming the full debate here and providing recaps of all the highlights as well as fact checks, real-time reaction and analysis as the final 10 candidates on stage go head-to-head tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET.

1198d ago / 10:03 PM UTC

How to watch tonight’s debate

On Night Two, the network is again offering almost as many ways to watch the debate as there are candidates.

The debate begins at 9 p.m. ET and end at 11 p.m. ET and will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie of “Today,” Lester Holt of “Nightly News,” Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo and NBC, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press.”

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are airing the debate live, with Telemundo broadcasting it in Spanish. It will also stream online for free on NBC News' digital platforms, including,, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo's digital platforms. The debate will also stream live and in full on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

NBC News NOW, the new streaming news service available through NBC's OTT apps and, will host an hour-long pre-show and post-show, featuring conversations from a student viewing party, a panel of experts, explainers and analysis.