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.
Biden says 'battle for the soul' of the nation is about more than Trump
Ahead of tonight’s debate, Biden has tweeted a thread outlining exactly what he means when he says America is in a “battle for the soul of this nation.”
It’s a development we’ve seen on the campaign trail in recent weeks where Biden has said that the battle isn’t just one about defeating President Donald Trump, but a personal battle for those facing economic hardships.
In tonight's thread, he goes further saying the "soul of the nation" means improvement on different fronts and how he is the only one who can get that done — a good preview of what he’s expected to say tonight.
Ariana Grande: 'Thank u, vote'
You can add Ariana Grande to the list of celebrities "feeling the Bern."
The Sanders campaign tells NBC News that Grande and her mother, Joan, met with the senator and his wife before Grande went on stage at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta Tuesday night.
The campaign says Sanders was "super impressed" with her work registering young people to vote. According to Grande's post on Twitter, her team has registered more than 20,000 young people to vote at her concerts.
Grande has been politically active all year. In July, she attended a California fundraiser for Sen. Kamala Harris at music producer Scooter Braun's house.
Booker and Harris pause for a selfie
The student debt crisis and what Democratic candidates propose doing about it
Student debt has surged in recent years and now stands at over $1.6 trillion.
Some Democrat candidates are proposing tuition-free public college and canceling student debt, while others are offering more limited benefits. Critics say many of the initiatives would benefit disproportionately better-off Americans.
Dance dance, revolution?
Buttigieg is proving once and for all that "Boomer" isn't just a generation, it's a state of mind.
Videos have flown around the internet in recent days featuring a choreographed dance being performed by his supporters. It’s set to “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco.
The dance has also triggered something of a backlash on the teen-heavy TikTok, where young politicos are using it to critique Buttigieg’s centrist positions.
Viewer discretion advised.
Debate-goers are submitting their Election Confessions
Ahead of the debate, people submitted their confessions about the 2020 candidates live from Atlanta. See the most recent confessions and share your own.
As the Democratic debate draws attention to Georgia, Stacey Abrams fights for voters' rights
Stacey Abrams won't be on the debate stage when the Democratic presidential candidates face off in Atlanta on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean she won't be playing a role in the 2020 elections.
Since Abrams' loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the Georgia governor's race last year, she's worked to combat voter suppression, which Abrams alleges cost her the race. Ahead of the presidential election next year, Abrams is using her political action committee, Fair Fight, to repair what she believes to be a broken voting system in her state.
"My reaction to the mismanagement and the malfeasance was to think about what could I do, not simply about my election, because that was over, but what work could I still do that would address the challenges that so many Georgians faced in that process?" Abrams told NBC News.
Yang says he misses Beto
College students join NBC News to help produce debate
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."