Watch: Democratic candidates spar over immigration and the economy in the first 2020 debate

FAN Editor

Ten Democratic candidates faced off for the first time Wednesday night in Miami as they jockey for position in the race to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

Another 10 candidates will meet Thursday in the first Democratic debate as they look for standout moments to gain ground in the field of about two dozen candidates. The debates, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, air live on those networks both nights. CNBC is also streaming them.

Early on in the debate, Democrats drilled into their desire to bridge the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the working class. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for “structural change” in the economy. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., pushed a plan to make college more affordable. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., both argued that the economy needs to start working for “everybody.” 

Candidates also targeted some specific companies, such as the pharmaceutical industry and opioid manufacturers, private prison companies and tech companies.

The first divisions of the night emerged on health care — when only Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio raised their hands when asked if they would get rid of private health care plans as part of “Medicare for All” proposals. Others such as Klobuchar, O’Rourke and former Rep. John Delaney pushed for more incremental change.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and O’Rourke — two Texans — also engaged in a heated discussion over immigration policy. 

Jose Diaz-Balart, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd are moderating the debates. Democrats get 60 seconds to respond to questions and another 30 seconds for follow-ups, according to NBC News. Candidates will give closing comments but not opening remarks.

Among candidates debating Wednesday night, Warren, O’Rourke and Booker have garnered the most support in early polls. Warren in recent surveys has moved into the top three overall.

Democratic presidential hopefuls (from 3rdL) US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker, US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, and former US Representative for Texas’ 16th congressional district Beto O’Rourke arrive to participate in the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Here’s who will take the stage both nights, listed in alphabetical order.


  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Former Rep. John Delaney
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.


  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
  • Author Marianne Williamson
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

Read more of CNBC’s coverage previewing the first Democratic debate:

Here’s who has the most to gain — and lose — from the first Democratic debates

‘Medicare for All’ and Big Tech breakup: Here are the business issues to watch in the first 2020 Democratic primary debates

Joe Biden’s record on women’s issues could take center stage at the Democratic debate this week

What Democratic debates have historically revealed about the candidates’ skills and character

Biden, Harris and Buttigieg rack up big money support as 2020 Democrats battle for donors

Here’s what 2020 long-shot Marianne Williamson’s candidacy says about the state of American politics in the age of Trump

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