2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown

Twelve Democratic primary hopefuls are gearing up to take the stage Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth Democratic primary debate, in what is being billed as the largest single debate in a U.S. presidential campaign cycle. 

CNN and The New York Times will host the forum, which will air from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT. 

Who will be there? Who won’t? What questions will the candidates be asked? Who will jab at whom? What will we learn?

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Keep reading for everything you need to know for the fourth 2020 Democratic primary debate.

Who will be there, and in what order? 

In order of stage placement: 

— Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii)

— Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout MORE

— Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.)

— Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.)

— Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.)

— Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE 

— Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.)

— South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE 

— Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE 

— Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)

— Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.)

— Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro

What are people saying about the stage placement? 

Biden, Sanders and Warren are center stage for the second debate in a row, reflecting their leads in the polls. 

That will give all three another chance to contrast their progressive and centrist ideas, at a time when Warren is posing a growing threat to Biden’s front-runner status while Sanders retains strong support.

What topics could come up?

Impeachment 

Tuesday will mark the first time Democratic presidential hopefuls will address the issue of impeachment after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE (D-Calif.) launched a formal impeachment inquiry. Most candidates back impeachment. 

Syria pullout  

While foreign policy does not always take center stage at debates, the candidates are likely going to face questions on Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, which Democrats and Republicans have both criticized. The move is seen by critics as an abandonment of U.S. Kurdish allies that will put their lives at risk. 

Affording higher education  

Student loan and debt forgiveness have been frequently discussed on the campaign trail. Warren and Sanders have both proposed four free years of college education. Biden released his plan proposing two free years of college education last week, and the two progressive senators could see an opening to hit the former vice president on that plan.  

Health care 

Health care is shaping up to be the biggest policy debate in the party. Biden clashed with Warren and Sanders on the issue at the last debate, defending the Affordable Care Act in the face of progressive proposals to scrap it in favor of “Medicare for All.” 

Drugs  

Democrats could also address the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S., which has hit Ohio especially hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the state was home to the nation’s highest per capita rate of opioid overdoses in 2017. 

Vaping

Vaping and e-cigarettes could also come up during the debate, amid a growing number of deaths related to the practice.  

Jobs and the economy 

Trump promised to revamp Ohio’s manufacturing and agricultural sector in 2016. However, Democrats say that the president has not made good on those promises in the state. Expect the Democratic candidates to push their own economic messages at the debate.  

Who won’t be there? 

— Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSome realistic solutions for income inequality Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd 21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests MORE (D-Colo.) 

— Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators Overnight Energy: US Park Police say ‘tear gas’ statements were ‘mistake’ | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE (D)

— Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what ‘policing’ means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan says there will be consequences from fraying US-China relations; WHO walks back claims on asymptomatic spread of virus MORE (D-Md.) 

— Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne MessamWayne Martin MessamKey moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Wayne Messam suspends Democratic presidential campaign 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum MORE  

— Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanMinnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen Congress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left MORE (D-Ohio) 

— Former Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.)

— Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson touts endorsements for progressive congressional candidates The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Warren becomes latest 2020 rival to back Biden The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden looks to stretch lead in Tuesday contests MORE 

Where can I watch the debate? 

The debate will air on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, in addition to streaming live on CNN.com and NYTimes.com’s homepages. 

 Hill.TV will stream a live 30-minute pre-show, as well as a post-debate show on The Hill’s YouTube channel. 

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