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Democratic debate live updates: Candidates take on whether age is an issue

Democratic debate live updates: Candidates take on whether age is an issue

Democratic debate live updates: Candidates blast Trump for ‘shameful’ chaos in Syria

Democratic debate live updates: Candidates blast Trump for ‘shameful’ chaos in Syria originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

The Democratic presidential contenders are in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth primary matchup of the season.

The pivotal debate, held on the campus of Otterbein University, comes as the Democratic field is sparring — over health care, immigration, climate change, criminal justice reform, among other topics — and as an ongoing impeachment inquiry battle pulls the contest into Washington’s orbit despite efforts to keep kitchen table issues at the forefront.

Here is how the night is unfolding. Please refresh the page for the latest updates.

9:17 p.m.: Veterans Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard differ over Syria

After Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a major in the Army National Guard, called for an end to the regime-change war in Syria, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Navy intelligence officer, responded, “Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it’s a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.”

“I think we need to get out of Afghanistan, but it’s also the case that a small number of specialized, special operations forces and intelligence capabilities were the only thing that stood between that part of Syria and what we’re seeing now, which is the beginning of a genocide and the resurgence of ISIS,” he continued.

But Gabbard immediately disagreed, arguing, “So really, what you’re saying, mayor Pete, is that you would continue to support having U.S. Troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time, to continue this regime-change war that has caused so many refugees to flee Syria, that you would continue to have our country involved in a war that has undermined our national security, you would continue this policy of the U.S. actually providing arms in support to terrorist groups in Syria…because they are the ones who have been the ground force in this regime-change war.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

But Buttigieg replied, “What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word … I would have a hard time, today, looking an Afghan civilian or soldier in the eye after what just happened over there, and it is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next.”

9:12 p.m. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard attacks the mainstream media

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called out debate hosts CNN and the New York Times on claims that they “smeared veterans.”

“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime-change war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media, who have been championing and cheerleading this regime-change war,” Gabbard said.

“Not only that but, “New York Times” and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime-change war. Just two days ago, the “New York Times” put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (John Minchillo/AP)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (John Minchillo/AP)

The congresswoman then asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren to join her calls to for an end to this regime-change war in Syria.

“I think we ought to get out of the Middle East,” Warren said. “I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East, but we have to do it the right way, the smart way. What this president has done is that he has sucked up to dictators, he has made impulsive decisions that often his own team doesn’t understand.”

9:10 p.m.: Debate turns to foreign policy, as Democrats tackle crisis in Syria

Former Vice President Joe Biden took the first question on foreign policy, criticizing President Trump for his decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls speak during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls speak during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

“I would not have withdrawn the troops and would not have withdrawn the additional thousand troops who are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people and the president of the United States saying if those ISIS folks escape from the prisons they’re in, they’ll only go to Europe and it won’t affect us,” he said.

He continued his attack on Trump in a follow up, “I would want those thousand troops to be protected by air cover — those thousand troops having to withdraw under fire — make it clear they’re not going anywhere and have them protected and work my way back toward what in fact needs to be done, protecting those Kurds. They lost their lives. This is shameful! Shameful what this man has done!”

9:00 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren finds herself under siege from Democratic rivals

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke continued the criticisms of Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the wealth tax after recent polling puts her now at the top of the pack.

“Senator Warren is 100% right, that we’re in the midst of the most winner take all economy in history. And a wealth tax makes a lot of sense in principle. The problem is that it’s been tried in Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, and all those countries ended up repealing it, because it had massive implementation problems and did not generate the revenue that they projected,” Yang contended.

O’Rourke said, “Sometimes senator Warren is more about being punitive and pitting some part of the country against each other, instead of lifting people up.”

But Warren fired back, saying, “I’m really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I’m being punitive. Look, I don’t have a beef with billionaires. My problem is you made a fortune in America, you had a great idea, you got out there and worked for it, good for you, but you built that fortune in America, I guarantee you built it in part using workers all of us help pay to educate.”

8:57 p.m.: Sen. Amy Klobuchar gives Sen. Elizabeth Warren a ‘reality check’ on taxes

In her second attack on Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar pushes back on her colleague’s claim that everyone else on stage, other than Sen. Bernie Sanders, wants to protect the wealthy adding that her “idea is not the only idea.”

“I want to give a reality check, here, to Elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires,” Klobuchar said. “Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.””Understand taxing income is not going to get you income where you need to be the way taxing wealth does,” Warren said during her response. “I think as Democrats we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started.”

8:56 p.m.: An hour in, it’s clear lower-tier Dems are attacking Warren as a front-runner: ANALYSIS

Nearly an hour in, the difference in front-running status seems clear. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is taking far more heat from her rivals than former Vice President Joe Biden. Nobody wanted to go where President Trump wanted to take them regarding Biden. But there are real fights breaking out over health care and the wealth tax — core progressive priorities.

ABC News’ Rick Klein contributed to this report.

8:53 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren slams entire field on stage over wealth tax, except Bernie Sanders

In a fierce defense of her wealth tax proposal, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took aim at the rest of her rivals sharing the stage over the plan to tackle income inequality, except her fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans,” she said.

8:49 p.m.: Billionaire Tom Steyer goes after billionaires

Tom Steyer, the lone billionaire on the stage, in his debut debate performance, agreed with Sen. Bernie Sanders on closing the income gap.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

“Senator Sanders is right,” Steyer began. “There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government and those 40 years have meant a 40-year attack on the rights of working people and specifically on organized labor … I would undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and major corporations.”

He even urged that’s why he’s running for president.

“There’s something wrong here,” he said. “That’s that the corporations have bought our government. Our government has failed. That’s why I’m running for president.”

8:44 p.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders takes on income Inequality

Sanders was asked to explain his comment “that billionaires should not exist.”

“The truth is, we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality, and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working families of this country for 45 years,” Sanders said. “So if you are asking me, do I think we should demand that the wealthy start paying—the wealthiest, top 1%—start paying their fair share of taxes so we can create a nation and a government that works for all of us, yes, that’s exactly what I believe.”

8:42 p.m.: Tulsi Gabbard shares support for Andrew Yang’s universal basic income

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard shared her support for Andrew Yang’s universal basic income proposal, saying, “I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. Universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so people can make choices that they want to see. This has to do with a bad trade deal that we have seen in the past that have also driven fear towards people losing the way that they provide for their families.”

“The value that someone feels in themselves and their own lives is not defined by the job that they have but is intrinsic to who we all are as Americans,” she urged. “Whatever we choose to do with our lives. We can’t forget that.”

Booker echoed Gabbard’s sentiment, adding, “We have to put the dignity back in work. Number one, you start having trade deals, not like this thing that the president is trying to push through Congress right now that gives pharmaceutical companies benefits and doesn’t put workers at the center of every trade deal.”

8:40 p.m. Sen. Elizabeth Warren pivots to trade relations and job loss

Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued to voters that it is bad trade policy, not automation, that should be the main focus of job loss.

“So, the data show that we have had a lot of problems with losing jobs, but the principle reason has been bad trade policy,” Warren said. “The principal reason has been a bunch of corporations, giant multinational corporations who have been calling the shots on trade, giant multinational corporations that have no loyalty to America. They have no loyalty to American workers. They have no loyalty to American consumers. They have no loyalty to American communities. They are loyal only to their own bottom line.”

8:38 p.m.: Cory Booker backs up Joe Biden about his family and Ukraine

In a staunch defense of the vice president, Sen. Cory Booker admonished the moderators for “literally using Donald Trump’s lies.”

“The second issue we cover on this stage is elevating a lie and attacking a statesman,” Booker said. “That was so offensive. [Biden] should not ourselves and the only person sitting at home that was enjoying that was Donald Trump seeing we are distracting from his malfeasance and selling out of his office.”

He then reiterated Sen. Kamala Harris’ argument about reproductive rights, pushing for a broader conversation on the issue.

“We’re not talking about the clear and existential threat in America. That we are in a state that has had two planned parenthoods closed,” he said. “We are seeing all over this country women’s reproductive rights under attack. And God bless Kamala. But you know what, women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight.”

8:35 p.m. Automation and job loss takes center stage

With automation threatening to wipe out the jobs of tens of millions of citizens, Sanders says he has a plan to ensure jobs are protected.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden looks on as Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the fourth Democratic presidential debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden looks on as Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the fourth Democratic presidential debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

“Damn right we will, and I’ll tell you why,” Sanders said. “If you look at what goes on in America today, we have an infrastructure which is collapsing. We could put 15 million people to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our wastewater plants, airports, etc.”

Yang pushed back on Sanders’ plan, arguing that his plan to give people $1,000 a month is better for Americans.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

“I am for the spirit of a federal jobs guarantee, but you have to look at how it would actually materialize in practice,” Yang said. “What are the jobs? Who manages you? What if you don’t like your job? What if you’re not good at your job? The fact is, most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. And saying that that is the vision of the economy of the 21st century, to me is not a vision that most Americans would embrace. Also, Sen.Sanders’, description of a federal jobs guarantee does not take into account the work of people like my wife, who is at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic. If we have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, it actually recognizes the work that is happening in our families and communities.”

8:33 p.m.: Kamala Harris demands a question on reproductive rights

California Sen. Kamala Harris called out the lack of questions on reproductive rights throughout the current debate, and the previous three.

“Not nearly one word with all of these discussions about health care on women’s access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack in America today and it’s outrageous,” she said. “People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives.”

8:29 p.m.: Amy Klobuchar goes on offense against Elizabeth Warren

Amid the first contentious moment of the debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar weighed in on the debate over health care by taking aim at her colleague, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s gonna pay for this and that taxes are going to go up,” Klobuchar said. “I’m sorry Elizabeth, but you’ve not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re gonna send the invoice.”

“You are making Republican talking points right now in this room by coming out for a plan that’s going to do that,” she continued about building on Obamacare. “I think there’s a better way that is bold that will cover more people. It’s the one we should get behind.”

Warren defended her stance, responding, “I didn’t spend most of my time in Washington. I spent most of my time studying one basic question and that is why hard-working people go broke? And one of the principal reasons for that is the cost of health care.”

“The problem we have got right now is the overall cost of health care…I’ve put out nearly 50 plans on how we can fight back and rebuild an America that works,” she added.”I appreciate Elizabeth’s work. The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done,” Klobuchar hit back.

8:27 p.m. “As someone who wrote the damn bill,” Sen. Sanders weighs in on health care

Sen. Bernie Sanders highlights his proposal for Medicare for All and admitted that taxes will increase for all.

“At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They will go up significantly for the wealthy and for virtually everybody, the tax increase will be substantially less,” Sanders said.

8:26 p.m.: Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren spar over ‘Medicare for All’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has previously refrained from going after his Democratic rivals, took on Sen. Elizabeth Warren directly while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the senator.”We heard it tonight,” Buttigieg said of Warren dodging questions about if middle-class taxes will increase under Medicare for All. “A yes or no question that didn’t get a yes or no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general, and Capitol Hill.”

“No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion-dollar hole in this Medicare for All plan that senator Warren is putting forward,” he said.

In response, Warren responded about her position, saying, “Whenever someone hears the term Medicare for all who want it, understand what that really means. It’s medicare for all who can afford it. That’s the problem we have got. Medicare for all is the gold standard. It’s the way we get health care coverage for every single American.”

Buttigieg rebutted, “I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans. We could achieve that same big, bold goal … we’re competing to be president for the day after Trump.”

“Our country will be polarized, more than now, after everything we have been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be more divided. Why divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all,” he questioned.

8:22 p.m. Sen. Elizabeth Warren dodges question on her Medicare for All Plan

Fielding the first question on the economy, Warren failed to answer whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for her Medicare for All plan.

“So, the way I see this, it is about what kinds of costs middle-class families are going to face,” Warren said. “So let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. And for middle-class families, they will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.”

8:20 p.m.: Joe Biden tackles his son’s role in foreign businesses

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has made clear that if elected president, his family would not be involved with foreign businesses, was questioned about why he allowed his son to serve on the board of a Ukraine natural gas company when he was vice president.

“Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in – in Ukraine,” Biden said, before laying into Trump. “[Trump] knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.”

During a follow-up answer, Biden added, “My son’s statement speaks for itself.”

“I did my job,” he continued. “I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have. We’ve always kept everything separate, even when my son was the attorney general of the state of Delaware. We never discussed anything. So there would be no potential conflict. My son made a judgment. I’m proud of the judgment he made. I’m proud of what he had to say.”

8:18 p.m. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke weighs in on President Donald Trump impeachment inquiry

“If you do not hold him to account, if there is not justice, not only have we have failed this moment, our Constitution, and our country,” O’Rourke said while saying why he believes impeachment is necessary. “We have failed everyone who has sacrificed and laid their lives down on the line. And we cannot do that.”

8:17 p.m. Tom Steyer continues his call for impeachment of President Donald Trump

Steyer first called from Trump’s impeachment two years ago, and echoed his sentiments during the debate to voters.

” Two years ago, I started the Need to Impeach movement because I knew there was something desperately wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president in the country and that only the voice and the will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not of political expediency,” Steyer said. “So, in fact, impeaching and removing the president is something that the American people are demanding.”

8:16 p.m.: Andrew Yang says he supports impeachment, but urges for ‘new vision’

While Andrew Yang noted he supports impeachment from the debate stage, he urged his fellow Democrats to stop talking about the president.

“I support impeachment, but we shouldn’t have any illusions that impeaching Donald Trump will be one, be successful, or, two, erase the problems that got him elected in 2016,” he said, before adding, “These are the problems that got Donald Trump elected. The fourth industrial revolution. And that is going to accelerate and grow more serious regardless of who is in the oval office. The fact is, Donald Trump when we are talking about him, we are losing. We need to present a new vision and that includes talking about impeaching Donald Trump.”

8:15 p.m.: Tulsi Gabbard reiterates her support for House impeachment inquiry

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was one of the last Democratic contenders running for president to support impeachment, said of impeachment, “Trump won his election, and as unhappy as that may make us as Democrats, he won that election in 2016. The serious issues that have been raised around this phone call he had with the president of Ukraine and many other things that transpired around that are what caused me to support the inquiry in the House.”

“I think that it should continue to play its course out, to gather all the information, provide that to the American people, recognizing that that is the only way forward.”

8:14 p.m. Mayor Pete Buttigieg says Republicans are making a mistake on impeachment

When asked if Democratic lawmakers are making a mistake moving forward with an impeachment inquiry without support from Republican lawmakers, Buttigieg says it’s Republicans who are making a mistake.

“Well, it’s a mistake on the part of Republicans who enable the president whose actions are as offensive to their own supposed values as they are to the values that we all share,” Buttigieg said. “Look, the president has left congress with no choice, and this is not just about holding the president accountable for not just things emerging in these investigations, but actions that he has confessed to on television.”

8:12 p.m.: Julian Castro dismisses concerns that impeachment is a distraction

As the impeachment inquiry, a pitched battle on both sides, takes up the first minutes of the debate, away from the focus on kitchen-table issues, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro dismisses concerns that it is a distraction.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he told the crowd inside the debate hall. “All of us are out there every single day talking about what we’re going to do to make sure that people cross the graduation stage, that more families have great health care, that more folks are put to work in places like Ohio, where Donald Trump has broken his promises, because Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them.”

“We have to impeach this president and the majority of Americans not only support impeachment, they support removal,” he continued.

8:10 p.m. Amy Klobuchar weighs in on President Trump pulling U.S. troops out of Syria

President Trump has received backlash from both sides on the aisle for his recent decision to remove troops from Syria. Many critics, including Klobuchar, said that we have abandoned longtime U.S. allies.

“I would like to hear from him about how leaving the Kurds for slaughter, our allies for slaughter, where Russia then steps in to protect them, how that makes America great again. And I would like to hear from him about how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again,” Klobuchar said.

8:09 p.m.: Cory Booker weighs in on potential impeachment trial

Sen. Cory Booker, one of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was asked Tuesday night in his first question about if he could be fair in an impeachment trial, calling on all Democrats to be fair.

“We must be fair,” he said. “This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship … That’s what this nation needs in what is a moral moment and not a political one. I swore an oath to do my job as a senator, do my duty. This president has violated his. I will do mine.”

(MORE: ‘Impeachment is unpredictable’: 2020 race braces for uncertainty)

8:08 p.m. Sen. Kamala Harris says impeachment process won’t take long

With many calling on the Democratic lawmakers to lay out a timetable for their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Harris says that Trump is the “most corrupt and unpatriotic president we have ever had” and that the impeachment inquiry won’t take long.

“But the reality of it is that I don’t really think this impeachment process is going to take very long, because as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it,” Harris said.

“And he did it in plain sight. He has given us the evidence and he tried to cover it up, putting it in the special server. And there’s been a clear consciousness of guilt. This will not take very long. Donald Trump needs to be held accountable.”

8:06 p.m.: Joe Biden slams Trump as he reiterates call for impeachment

Former Vice President Joe Biden, when asked about how Democrats are navigating an impeachment inquiry, said, “Trump continued to stonewall what the Congress is entitled to know about his background, what he did, all the accusations in the Mueller report.”

Biden continued his hammering of Trump, taking a swipe at the incumbent president, saying “I agree with Bernie, Sen. Sanders — this is the most corrupt president in modern history and, I think, all of our history.”

8:05 p.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders comments on Ukraine, Hunter Biden controversy

With Democrats calling on President Donald Trump’s impeachment in the wake of his controversial July call with the Ukraine president, Sanders called that interaction “beyond comprehension.”

“I think in terms of the recent Ukrainian incident, the idea that we have a president of the United States who is prepared to hold back national security money to one of our allies in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehension,” Sanders said.

8:03 p.m.: Elizabeth Warren fields first question on impeachment

The brewing impeachment fight consuming Capitol Hill made its way onto the debate stage Tuesday night as the first question.”Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren when asked why shouldn’t voters decide President Trump’s fate next year at the ballot box. “This is about Donald Trump. But understand, it’s about the next president and the next president and the next president and the future of this country. The impeachment must go forward.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during the fourth Democratic primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“Impeachment is the way we establish this man will not be allowed to break the law over and over again,” she said.

7:54 p.m.: The candidates are now taking the stage

The candidates are now taking the debate stage to applause.

PHOTO: Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren enter the stage before the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren enter the stage before the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

7:46 p.m.: FiveThirtyEight’s analysis live blog is live

Tonight is the largest presidential primary debate yet (and reportedly ever) with 12 candidates on the stage. And this is actually billionaire Tom Steyer’s first debate of the primary. He’s also one of the eight who have already qualified for the November debate, so this won’t be the last you see of him — and it may not be the last you see of debates where more than 10 candidates qualify. Read more of FiveThirtyEight’s analysis here.

7:13 p.m: Ahead of debate, Pelosi, Schiff defend impeachment probe, lack of formal floor vote

Ahead of the debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Tuesday expressed confidence in Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry and efforts to obtain records and testimony from the Trump administration in court – while defending their inquiry from Republican criticism.

Pelosi defended their timeline without providing any new updates and dismissed questions about Republican calls for a formal floor vote.

“I’m not concerned about anything,” she said. Republicans “can’t defend the president so they’re going to process.”

ABC News’ Ben Siegel contributed to this report.

6:30 p.m.: O’Rourke wants to flex some policy muscles beyond guns at Tuesday’s debate

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s aides walked away from the last debate feeling like he had a breakout moment with his “hell yes we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47” line, but didn’t get the momentum they were looking for in the wake, multiple sources inside the campaign have told ABC News since that night.

Today, one source told ABC News that the campaign understands one breakout moment, or one jab, is evidently not enough to move the polls for O’Rourke.

But that doesn’t mean the strategy — for the candidate struggling to score more than 2% in polls — is shifting, that source, briefed on tonight’s strategy, told ABC News.

O’Rourke’s goal for this debate is “substance over flash.” The campaign wants viewers to see O’Rourke as a leader on policies beyond guns, acknowledging that some may view him as a single-issue candidate.

One thing we can count on is that O’Rourke will sell his history of being a political underdog. “Not paying attention to the polls and conventional political wisdom has paid off for him in the past,” the source said, pointing to his first congressional race against an incumbent Democratic and, of course, his tight contest for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018 while supporting impeachment, universal healthcare, and an assault weapons ban.

ABC News’ Lissette Rodriguez and Jeff Cook report contributed to this report.

6:15 p.m.: Warren’s campaign details her debate day prep

After flying into Ohio Monday, Warren’s campaign says the polling frontrunner did some debate prep with her team.

Earlier on Tuesday, after going on a walk as part of her debate day routine, Warren met with the winner of a contest her campaign held for a supporter to fly out to the debate and attend as one of her guests.

Warren is expected to be one of her rivals top targets during the debate, given her rise in recent polling and a strong showing in fundraising over the last three months.

ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett in Westerville, Ohio contributed to this report.

6:14 p.m.: Bloomberg pens op-ed calling out current Dem field, sparks 2020 speculation

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg penned an op-ed in The Washington Post ahead of Tuesday night’s Dem Debate—sparking further speculation regarding a possible 2020 presidential run, despite ruling one out earlier in the year.

Bloomberg, once a Republican, Independent and now a Democrat, criticizes the current 2020 Democratic field in the op-ed, writing: “The country elects a commander in chief, and yet based on the campaign so far, one might think we are electing a legislator in chief — or a prime minister whose party controls a parliament.”

ABC News’ Will Steakin contributed to this report.

6:09 p.m.: Biden campaign responds to Hunter Biden’s ABC interview

Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield was just on MSNBC and was asked why they feel it was the right strategy for Hunter Biden to be answering questions about allegations that they have maintained are false and have no credibility.

“This is Donald Trump’s game. Look, Hunter Biden has been attacked viciously and personally by Donald Trump for the past three weeks. He sat down this morning and answered every question that was thrown at him, which frankly is a lot more than you can say for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and their ilk who are stonewalling and refusing to answer questions in their own impeachment inquiry, by the way. But, you know, you had Hunter sit down, he answered questions. He’s shown he’s not going to be bullied by the President of the United States and neither is our campaign,” Bedingfield told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd

ABC News’ Johnny Verhovek contributed to this report.

5:15 p.m.: Here’s who is on the debate stage

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television, FILE)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television, FILE)

The debate features a dozen candidates packed on the stage, the largest roster yet to appear in a single primary debate ever.

(MORE: CNN, New York Times will co-host next Democratic debate in October)

While the same 10 candidates who participated in the third presidential debate a month ago in Houston, hosted by ABC News and Univision, will appear on stage, both Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who reclaimed a podium after missing the cut last month, and Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist who entered the race in July and will be a newcomer to the stage this time around, will join their Democratic rivals.

The 12 candidates who officially qualified for the debate, in podium order as announced by CNN, include:

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Businessman Tom Steyer New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker California Sen. Kamala Harris Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders Former Vice President Joe Biden Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg Entrepreneur Andrew Yang Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro

The pivotal debate, hosted by CNN and the New York Times on the campus of Otterbein University, comes as the Democratic field is readying to spar over health care, immigration, climate change, criminal justice reform, among other topics, but is being consumed by external forces.

The debate is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 15. The moderators will be CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, and New York Times national editor Marc Lacey.

2:13 p.m.: FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos try to answer “Who Will Win The Fourth Democratic Debate?”

If something is going to shake up the race before the Iowa caucuses, it’s likely to be a debate. So ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight teamed up with Ipsos to once again track how Tuesday’s debate, hosted by CNN and The New York Times, affected likely primary voters’ feelings about the candidates. The FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, will interview the same group of voters twice, on either side of the debate, to capture both the “before” and “after” picture.

1:47 p.m.: Ahead of the debate, Buttigieg comes out swinging

It’s clear Mayor Pete Buttigieg is looking to enter the ring tomorrow night swinging — now going after 2020 competitors Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke… calling Warren out, specifically, for hedging on Medicare for All taxes – dissing small-dollar donations as “pocket change” apropos her recent expansion of her no-big-fundraiser pledge to the general election (despite the DNC’s debt.)

ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik contributed to this report.

12:09 p.m.: Here’s how the candidates are faring on raising money

Candidates have been sending out dire pleas heading into the final days, pushing out a cascade of fundraising emails and running ad blitzes on social media.Despite recent polling that showed his campaign trailing behind some of his 2020 Democratic rivals, the Vermont senator set the tone for third-quarter fundraising Tuesday morning, announcing a whopping $25.3 million haul. The number eclipses Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s combined total raised in the first two quarters and leaves Sanders with over $61.5 million in receipts this year. Read more here.

5 a.m.: Here’s what to watch for in tonight’s debate

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television, FILE)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television, FILE)

For the second consecutive matchup, Former Vice President Joe Biden will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, pitting the elder statesman up against the rising liberal stalwart, who is steadily climbing in recent national polling and now shares the top spot with the former vice president.

Biden is walking into the debate hall on less steady ground: between fending off President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about the former vice president’s inappropriate behavior surrounding his son Hunter’s Ukrainian business dealings, lackluster fundraising numbers in the third quarter of 2019, and his lead in national polls slipping.

Many of the candidates vying for a spot on the 2020 ticket now have launched thinly veiled jabs against the veteran lawmaker — maintaining full-throated support, while in the same breath saying they themselves would never allow their cabinet members’ families to sit on a foreign board, as Hunter Biden did during the Obama administration.

Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to oust a prosecutor who ostensibly had been leading an investigation into Burisma, an oil company, and was unpopular in his home country due to a lack of action. However, no evidence has emerged to support Trump’s main allegation that Biden did so to benefit his son, Hunter, who was later added to the company’s board of directors. Several international leaders, including senior officials at International Monetary Fund, have criticized the prosecutor and said Biden’s recommendation was justified.

(MORE: As Biden weathers Trump’s criticism on Ukraine, supporters worry about possible impact on candidacy)

As House Democrats move full-steam ahead with an impeachment inquiry, this will be the first debate in which questions about the matter may be broached.

Meanwhile, Warren — who has sought to avoid clashing with her Democratic rivals before a national audience so far, instead focusing on her pitch for big, structural change — might become a key target for the lower-polling candidates who are struggling to make their mark on the electorate.

Flanking Biden on the other side will be Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, who after suffering a heart attack, vowed to make it to the debate stage amid questions about his health and ability to keep up with the rigorous pace of the campaign trail.

Despite those concerns, he has already previewed the differences he seeks to make between him and his progressive colleague, Warren.

“There are differences between Elizabeth and myself,” Sanders said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, two days before his first official emergence back on the campaign trail since his heart attack. “Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.”

(MORE: Bernie Sanders draws contrast with Elizabeth Warren: She says ‘she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.’)

But beyond the three top-tier candidates, the others senators vying for the White House, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, are likely to take the stage with renewed urgency to turn a breakout moment into a tangible spike, as the crowded field enters the critical four months before first votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses in early February.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage ahead of the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls stand onstage ahead of the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx on Sept. 12, 2019. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

On Monday, Booker started to draw dividing lines with his opponents, criticizing the South Bend mayor for equating gun buybacks to a “confiscation” of firearms.

“Calling buyback programs ‘confiscation’ is doing the NRA’s work for them … they don’t need our help,” Booker tweeted.

During an interview with the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” Buttigieg said, “I just don’t think we should wait to have a fight over confiscation when we can win on background checks and assault weapons ban and red flag laws right now.”

(MORE: Pete Buttigieg defuses protesters as 2020 candidates bring campaign to LGBT forum)

Despite avoiding conflicts with other candidates so far in the previous three debates, Buttigieg is coming to the stage with a more aggressive approach.

In the same Snapchat interview, he also hit back at O’Rourke, who has recently took aim at Buttigieg for being a “poll-driven” candidate, telling the platform, “This is a policy disagreement, and it’s about governing. I get it, he needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant.”

But aggressively targeting another candidate has so far backfired for those who’ve tried, such as Castro, who leaned into his aggressive style at the third Democratic debate, when he questioned Biden’s memory. But even some of his competitors criticized his decision to make an apparent swipe at Biden’s age.

Regardless, the debate will provide another night of contrast that will further crystallize the differences among the Democratic field, that still counts 19, on policy, philosophy and governing – before November’s upcoming debate could shrink the stage under more stringent qualifying rules.


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