The next meeting of Democratic presidential candidates is scheduled for Tuesday in Charleston, S.C., ahead of the state’s Feb. 29 primary. The debate is co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.
To make the stage, candidates must get a national delegate from Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada, hit at least 10 percent in four DNC-approved polls between Feb. 4 and Feb. 24 or 12 percent in two polls of South Carolina.
The candidates onstage look likely to be the same as the ones who debated in Las Vegas on Wednesday:
Also in the race but not yet qualified are billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Just tuning in to the campaign or want to catch up? We’ve got you covered.
Many Democrats in the race are embracing more left-wing positions, with a debate over the future of health care — Medicare-for-all vs. a public option — being one key division in the field. Many candidates have provided responses to detailed questionnaires about their stances on health care, the economy, foreign policy, education and more. The Washington Post has compiled those details on these key issues:
- Health care: Medicare-for-all, drug prices, a public option and more Read more
- Immigration: Penalties for illegal immigration, a wall, ICE and more Read more
- Government: Supreme Court makeup, electoral college, voting rules and more Read more
- Climate change: Green New Deal, Paris climate deal, emissions and more Read more
- Education: Funding primary education, subsidizing college, student debt and more Read more
- Foreign policy: Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea and more Read more
- Economic inequality: Wealth tax, paid family leave, minimum wage and more Read more
- Health care: Medicare-for-all, drug prices, a public option and more
- Immigration: Penalties for illegal immigration, a wall, ICE and more
- Government: Supreme Court makeup, electoral college, voting rules and more
- Climate change: Green New Deal, Paris climate deal, emissions and more
- Education: Funding primary education, subsidizing college, student debt and more
- Foreign policy: Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea and more
- Economic inequality: Wealth tax, paid family leave, minimum wage and more
What we’ve seen in previous debates
The eighth debate was held Feb. 7 at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, days before that state’s primary, with candidates sharpening their criticisms of one another in a race with no clear front-runner. They took rivals on over age, political record, electability and their policy prescriptions. Sanders and Buttigieg, who were at the top of the Iowa caucuses earlier in the week, drew the most attention and scrutiny.
The seventh debate was held Jan. 14 in Des Moines, less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The biggest moment turned on whether a woman could be president, as Sanders and Warren clashed over whether he told her in 2018 that a woman could not beat President Trump. The candidates also clashed on a number of major issues, including commitment of troops in the Middle East, the future of the health-care industry and trade deals.
The sixth debate was held Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, with seven candidates onstage, the smallest number to that point. Warren and Buttigieg sparred over the role of wealthy donors, a fight that came after weeks of disagreements. Candidates also argued over health-care policy, their experience levels and who can beat President Trump. It came less than six weeks before the Iowa caucuses, with candidates drawing sharper contrasts with their rivals.
The fifth debate was held Nov. 20 and was hosted by The Washington Post and MSNBC. Ten candidates were on the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, where they largely tried to pitch themselves to the American people as opposed to going after one another.
The debate was centered on President Trump and who was best positioned to defeat him, with candidates taking questions on issues including racial justice, marijuana policy and child care. Candidates passed on opportunities to attack one another and instead talked about beating the incumbent.
The fourth debate was held Oct. 15 in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Twelve candidates crowded onstage on a night when Warren took her first sustained attacks.
Rival candidates challenged Warren on policies and her campaign, accusing her of being divisive on health care or not having plans she could accomplish. She argued the party should “dream big and fight hard.” It was the first debate since the House of Representatives started an impeachment inquiry, and the rest of the field appeared reluctant to echo Republican criticisms of Biden’s son Hunter and his work in Ukraine while Biden was vice president. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. It was also the first debate since Sanders’s heart attack two weeks earlier, but he showed no signs of lingering trouble.
The third debate, Sept. 12 in Houston, showed the party’s divisions on key issues including health care and immigration, as Biden went on early offense against the two liberal candidates flanking him, Sanders and Warren.
Ten candidates qualified for this debate, which focused on whether the party should nominate someone pushing for major changes or a return to pre-Trump normalcy. Biden, Sanders and Warren were atop the polling, and candidates further down in the standings were more than willing to criticize them, as moderate candidates such as Klobuchar took on Sanders’s health-care plan and Castro questioned Biden’s memory.
The second debate was held over two nights, July 30 and 31 in Detroit, with 10 candidates onstage each night.
On the first night, lower-polling candidates — many of whom did not make subsequent debates — went after the liberal policies of higher-polling candidates, calling them impossible or not pragmatic. Warren and Sanders were at the center of that stage, and the other candidates took them on as they tried to make a case for their relevancy. The subtext of many of the attacks was electability and who would fare best against Trump.
The second night, Biden was center stage and adopted a more aggressive stance, defending his record on race, criminal justice and health care. The legacy of President Barack Obama also came into question, as candidates questioned his trade and immigration policies, particularly on deportation. The divide this night was not as much over how far to the left candidates were but over a thirst to have a nominee who represents the party’s growing diversity.
The first debate showcased the biggest presidential field at that point. Held on June 26 and 27 in Miami, it featured 10 candidates each night talking about how they would take on Trump and working to differentiate themselves.
On Night One, Warren drove much of the debate, defending her plans and saying she was willing to fight and take on the “corruption in this system” that had created the problems. Her rivals generally explained their plans as different routes to the same goal. The night was serious, with candidates focused on grim challenges facing the country, including climate change and the humanitarian crises at the southern border.
On Night Two, Biden was the focus, as the leader in the polls was questioned on his record on racial issues and whether it was time for him to pass the torch. In the most dramatic moment of any debate in this primary, Harris accused him of opposing policies that allowed black girls like her to attend integrated schools. Biden led the candidates onstage in attacking Trump, calling him a liar, a phony and a failure. Candidates also repeatedly interrupted one another and ignored moderators’ instructions.