EVENT ENDED

Democratic Debate live updates: MSNBC/Washington Post host

With impeachment at center stage, Democrats debated their visions to replace Trump.

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NBC News' live blog tracked the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

With the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump taking center stage,the 2020 candidates clashed over their visions to replace him. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg escaped unscathed after it was expected he'd draw heavy fire as the newly minted front-runner, while former Vice President Joe Biden stumbled with gaffes on women, marijuana and race.

Catch up quickly via our analysis and fact checks, and get a look at who came out swinging via our attack tracker. Or, see how the night unfolded below.

Live Blog

Pete Buttigieg in the crossfire at MSNBC debate

There's a new front-runner in Iowa as the Democratic presidential candidates meet in head-to-head competition for the first time in more than a month at Wednesday night's MSNBC/Washington Post debate in Atlanta — but the national nomination picture is still stable.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, riding a surge powered by his last debate performance and the cash he's pumped into building field operations in early states, has a 2.2-point edge over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the Real Clear Politics average of Iowa caucus surveys, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., trailing both of them.

At the national level, though, the standings haven't changed much. Biden's lead has narrowed to a 6.7 percent margin over Warren — 27 percent to 20.3 percent — in the Real Clear Politics average, with Sanders at 18.8 percent and Buttigieg at 8.3 percent.

This combination of campaign inertia and the failure of any one candidate to take a commanding lead after nearly 11 months of campaigning has helped convince two new candidates to enter the race, or consider doing so, in the last couple of weeks — former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is in, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may be — although neither had enough time to qualify for Wednesday's debate.

Read more here.

Biden advisers preview debate focused on experience, delivering results

The Biden campaign continues to exude confidence even as Biden — who is 77 years old today — has seen his frontrunner status challenged nationally and in the early states, arguing that he remains resilient with a large bloc of supporters who believe he can beat Trump.

In a pre-debate briefing with reporters, senior campaign advisors described this time period in the election as voters “dating” the candidates, exploring their options in the field. But ultimately they’re confident they’ll be “marrying” Biden. 

High anxiety: Jittery Democrats fear their candidate won't beat Trump

Democrats, often prone to fretting about elections, have been increasingly worried that their large and divided presidential field, currently led by four imperfect front-runners, doesn't have what it takes to beat President Donald Trump next year.

They worry that Biden is too old and stumbling; that Buttigieg is too young and too inexperienced; and that Warren and Sanders are too far left and can't win. And they tend to write off the rest of the field, assuming that if those contenders haven't caught on yet, they never will.

That angst reached a fever pitch this week and helped push one new candidate and another potential challenger from the party's more moderate wing into the race — former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who announced he's running, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's thinking about it — just ahead of a New Hampshire filing deadline, which essentially barred the door to new candidates when it expired at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Read more about voters' fears here.

Where the candidates stand on key issues

If the past debates are any indication, Wednesday night could feature discussions about health care, immigration, gun control and foreign policy.

With 10 candidates on stage, it can be hard to keep track of where each one stands. Luckily, NBC News has you covered.

Here's where the candidates stand on key issues.

Who's on stage tonight?

Here are the 10 candidates who will be on stage tonight:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Among those absent from the debate are Housing Secretary Julián Castro, who has qualified for all the debates until now and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who dropped out earlier this month.

The bar to qualify for the November debate, set by Democratic National Committee, was the highest thus far.

How to watch the November Democratic debate: Schedule, rules and more

The Democratic presidential primary debate on Wednesday will feature Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren standing center stage, flanked by Bernie Sanders and a rising Pete Buttigieg — and will be missing a couple of familiar faces.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg will likely capture more attention from his fellow candidates after recent polling shows him leading the field in Iowa, while Warren can expect a barrage of questions about changes to her Medicare for All plan.

The field of 10 candidates expected to take the stage at Tyler Perry Studios — fewer than the 12 at October's debate — will be missing some familiar faces.

Here's what to expect from tonight's event.