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

College students join NBC News to help produce debate

A group of students from Georgia State University in Atlanta joined NBC News to help produce Wednesday night's Democratic debate by standing in at the podiums and even debated each other on some of the top issues.Caitlin Fichtel / NBC News

A group of 35 students from Georgia State University in Atlanta joined NBC News to help produce Wednesday night's Democratic debate.

Each student was selected by their professors to apply for the opportunity and underwent an interview process with both their professors and NBC.

The students, a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, were selected to portray candidate stand-ins during rehearsals, hand out credentials, and work behind the scenes to help NBC put on the broadcast.

David Howell, a junior journalism major and political science minor was tasked with playing Joe Biden during rehearsals. He said that he made sure to heavily prepare for the role beforehand,

"I did all sorts of research, the majority came from watching videos [of Biden in] prior debates and reading Twitter posts where he talked about policy," he said.

Kyle Smith, a graduate student working towards a master's of art and communication with a focus in digital media strategies, has been assisting with handing out credentials to members of the media. He said that he jumped at the experience due to the importance of the upcoming election.

"This is a huge election because our voice matters. We need numbers in order to make change happen in Georgia, which is primarily a red state," he said.

Noorma Ckhoul, a senior majoring in journalism with a political science minor, played one of the moderators.

She said that while "none of us really knew what we were getting into,” the students ended up getting valuable public speaking and communications experience.

Ada Wood, a junior journalism major, said she was thrilled to have been selected to participate.

"I learned a lot about what it really takes to put on an event this big," she said. "All the hands and the people involved. All the technology."

Sanders shoots hoops ahead of debate

Julián Castro, ineligible for Democratic debate, stays visible in Atlanta neighborhood

ATLANTA — Even though he would not be onstage at the Democratic debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night, presidential candidate Julián Castro spent the morning in the city anyway touring a neighborhood founded by slaves whose residents are now fighting gentrification.

Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, toured the neighborhood, named Pittsburgh, that was founded in 1883, making it one of the oldest in the city and where many of the neighborhood's residents have lived for decades.

Although he joked he had gone to the neighborhood because that's where the media was, Castro said his visit was a continuation of what his campaign has been about.

"From the very beginning of this campaign, I've spoken out for the most marginalized, the people that have been forgotten, for the poor and not only the middle class, but people who are poor in this country and spoken out to make sure everyone can succeed, a country where everyone counts," Castro said. "And so we're going to go where we have the opportunity to deliver that message."

Full story here.

Why Buttigieg is struggling with black voters

Buttigieg may have won over many members of the mostly white political commentariat in New York and Washington, and recent polls of Iowa’s overwhelmingly white electorate put him at or near the front of the crowded Democratic field there. But, at the start of October, a poll in The Charleston Post and Courier found Buttigieg had no black voter support in the state and just 4 percent support overall.

That has left two questions generating a stream of television commentary, social media memes and heated disputes. How much of Buttigieg’s difficulty with black voters, and in many cases religious voters, is because of his sexuality? And, given that black voters make up about 20 percent of the Democratic Party’s base nationwide, why is he still considered a serious contender for the nomination when he doesn’t have black voters’ support?

Read more about why black voters aren't sold on Mayor Pete.

Single-payer activist Ady Barkan endorses Elizabeth Warren ahead of debate

Activist Ady Barkan endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren this morning ahead of the Democratic debate in Atlanta. Barkan shared his endorsement through an article in the Nation and on social media, saying that his choice was between Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Elizabeth Warren is the individual who I believe would make the best president,” he writes. Barkan interviewed several presidential candidates in video pieces that were highly shared on social media — his voice in the conversation on health care and activism is a powerful one.

He goes on to share his admiration for Sanders and adds that Warren’s moral clarity and her funding plan for "Medicare for All" as well as her transition plan added to his decision to endorse her.

Here's more about Barkan's advocacy:

'Our bad,' Biden campaign says after sending post-debate email hours early

The Biden campaign corrected itself after blasting out a post-debate email hours early, blaming the misfire on being "so excited" for the matchup that they "accidentally hit send too soon."

"You might have just gotten an email from Joe about just getting off of the debate stage. That’s our bad, team," the new email said.

The initial email blast was noted on Twitter. 

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.