The second round of Democratic debates kicks off tonight in Detroit with the primary’s leading progressives, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sharing a stage with a handful of their most vocal moderate rivals.

Warren and Sanders are both running on the promise of a universal health care program run by the federal government (“Medicare for All”) and a crackdown on powerful business interests, from Wall Street to the pharmaceutical giants.

But they will be flanked at the Fox Theatre by a range of skeptics, from Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Joe Biden figures to have his hands full on night two, but he will also be present — as conjured up by his rivals — tonight, especially when it comes to health care.

The Sanders campaign has directed the lion’s share of its attacks at the former vice president, who has been openly, and sometimes mockingly, skeptical of the party’s move left and, specifically, the political prospects of Medicare for All.

His objections and stated concerns have occasionally been misleading — like when he suggested a transition to single-payer could leave people with gaps in coverage — and quickly met with a series of stinging rebuttals from the Sanders team.

Warren has been less obviously in search of fronts for engagement with Biden, but their history is no secret.

He remains the standard-bearer for a Democratic Party she argues is out of touch with working-class voters and too closely aligned with the financial industry.

Whether she calls out Biden by name or keeps her message more general, Warren — separated from him by a random draw for a second straight round — could still use the big audience to cast herself as the progressive wing’s best answer to his politics.

Biden’s absence is less of a conundrum for the rest of the field, which is closer to him ideologically but far off his pace in the polls.

For those candidates, the goal will be to offer up a similar policy agenda in what they hope is received as a more appealing — or at least younger — package.

The debate could also be the last best chance for former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke to deliver on the early promise of his campaign, which has floundered in the polls and with donors.

O’Rourke has signaled he will try to revive his bid with a more aggressive approach in Detroit as he tries to channel the excitement that drove his near-miss 2018 Senate campaign.

An awkward twist of fate has an all-white cast of 10 Democratic presidential candidates taking the debate stage tonight amid a national firestorm over President Donald Trump’s racist commentary.

A random draw by CNN, the debate’s host, put them out front — without including a single one of the five contenders of color, all of whom will participate on the second night of the debate on Wednesday, along with Joe Biden, the front-runner in the polls.

POLLS

Joe Biden holds big leads over the Democratic primary field in two national polls released today.

Emerson’s poll found the former vice president was the top choice of 33 percent of likely Democratic voters, 13 points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who placed second with 20 percent support.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) finished third in the survey at 14 percent support.

While Sanders gained five points since Emerson’s last survey, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) fell 4 points to 11 percent.

The only other candidates above 3 percent were South Bend, Ind, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) at 4 percent.

Morning Consult’s weekly survey also found Biden as the top choice of voters at 33 percent, leading Sanders who also placed second in this survey with 18 percent support, or 15 points behind.

Warren, at 13 percent, and Harris, at 12 percent, were in a close race for third in this survey as well.

Buttigieg, at 5 percent, O’Rourke, at 3 percent, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also at 3 percent, are the only other candidates above 2 percent.

DEBATE TIME ON CNN:

CNN’s Democratic presidential primary debates will be held tonight, and tomorrow night, starting at 8 p.m. ET and ending around 10:30 p.m. ET.

 

Tuesday, July 30:

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Author Marianne Williamson

 

Wednesday, July 31:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
Former Vice President Joe Biden
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
California Sen. Kamala Harris
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Businessman Andrew Yang

 

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