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The matchups to watch at the Democratic presidential debate

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WASHINGTON — The opening 2020 Democratic debate double feature is set: Elizabeth Warren vs. the field on the first night, and establishment Joe Biden vs. democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — plus two more of the top-five polling hopefuls and six undercard candidates — in the “Lord of the Flies” closer.

The two-day extravaganza in Miami, which will air live on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo June 26-27, represents the first time a national television audience gets to see most of the contestants for the Democratic nomination compete against one another. In this case, it will be in decahedral — or ten-headed — fashion, with the group of 20 candidates who qualified split evenly between the two nights.

But in terms of marquee names, the draw ended up heavily weighted toward the second night — a dynamic that has big implications for both rounds.

Night One

In the first heat, Warren — the Massachusetts senator who currently sits third at about 12 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls — is the only one of the five candidates registering above 4 percent routinely in surveys who will be on the stage.

That could be a blessing for her — a chance to dominate — but it could also be a curse if she fails to deliver.

Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist whose firm Park Street Strategies is releasing a poll of Democratic voters on Monday, said that the same pressure is on all the top-tier candidates regardless of which night they drew.

“None of them can afford to falter in a debate,” he said. By the same token, he said, Democratic voters are suffering from candidate overload and are ready for the field to winnow some, which puts an onus on the lesser-knowns to raise their profiles quickly.

“Either they rise to the moment, or their candidacy is done,” he said. “The margin-of-error candidates have no margin for error.”

The other nine competing with Warren, a set that includes two of her fellow senators, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and one former Texas congressman — Beto O’Rourke — who has become more aggressive as he tries to jump-start his campaign, see an opening in avoiding a Biden-Sanders slugfest that also features Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

“This is an opportunity for us,” said an aide to Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the challenges facing other candidates. “Every story that comes out of Night Two of the debates is going to be about Biden and how he stacked up against the younger candidates given how he has been covered lately.”

Those younger candidates “are going to struggle to break out of that shadow,” the aide said.

The sleeper candidate on the first night could be Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has been praised in Democratic circles for her performance in high-profile congressional hearings and who gets informal advice from a set of longtime party hands familiar with the debate-prep process.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who has made climate change the center of his campaign, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who has earned plaudits from Warren for his immigration proposal, and three sitting House members, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Tim Ryan of Ohio and John Delaney of Maryland, round out the lineup for the first night.

Night Two

All eyes will be on Biden and Sanders, who represent the poles of the Democratic primary contest — a centrist who has “evolved” as the party has moved leftward on social policy over his decades in the spotlight, and an iconoclastic progressive who has run as an independent for the House and Senate and recently gave a speech laying out his philosophy of democratic socialism.

They also happen to be the candidates with the highest name-recognition and the leaders in most national polls, as well as the small set of surveys that have been taken in the first four states on the Democratic primary calendar.

Sanders will welcome the opportunity for a direct contrast, as he has been the candidate most open to taking on Biden, the popular former vice president, directly. But he’ll have competition on the stage in the form of Buttigieg and Harris, who will have to weigh whether they are more concerned with introducing themselves to the many voters who still don’t know them or taking the risk of going after the front-runners to cut into their support.

For voters, the stage will offer a full study in comparisons between Biden and the rest of the pack.

“He’s going to have a lot of sharp contrasts, because you’re going to have Bernie Sanders, who is much more progressive than he is, and Pete Buttigieg, who is much younger than he is, and Kamala Harris, who is a woman of color,” said Patti Solis Doyle, who was campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s first bid for president. “There’s just going to be a lot of visual contrasts there between the front-runner and the other candidates.”

That could cut two ways for Biden: It could be that the panoply of Democratic rivals drown one another out or that he comes off as unrepresentative of the party.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad,” Solis Doyle said. “But for the first time in this race, you’re going to see what the choices are.”

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Labour coup to oust Watson after he plotted to be PM in anti-Brexit Government

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THE sneaky bid to oust Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson was sparked by suspicions he was scheming with Tory rebels and Liberal Democrats MPs to become prime minister of a caretaker Government.

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Booker says it's time for his campaign to 'grow or get out'

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MSNBC’s Vaughn Hillyard asked 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., about a memo that says his campaign needs to raise support or he may drop out of the race.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio drops 2020 bid

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Friday, ending a long shot bid for the Democratic nomination that never went anywhere.

“I feel like I have contributed all I can to this primary election, and it’s clearly not my time, so I’m going to end my presidential campaign,” de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“We have a chance to get it right in 2020,” de Blasio added. “Whoever our nominee is, let’s make sure we’re talking to the hearts of working people.”

De Blasio said he would not be endorsing any of his fellow candidates “today” but that he would “think about” doing so in the future. He added that he would “of course” support “whoever the eventual nominee is.”

In a piece for NBC News’ THINK, de Blasio explained that he would continue “fighting for working people and ensuring that New York City remains the vanguard of progressivism will continue to be my missions.”

President Donald Trump — a frequent critic of de Blasio — immediately chimed in, jeering in a post on Twitter that the exit from the race by the “Part time Mayor” was “big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years” and that “NYC is devastated” that “he’s coming home.”

De Blasio’s bid — launched in May — ultimately lasted just over four months and was largely mocked for most of its short life.

He was widely unpopular in New York City, with an April Quinnipiac Poll showing that more than three-quarters of New Yorkers felt he shouldn’t run, and faced a stiff upward climb in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

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De Blasio had attempted to run on a record of progressive accomplishments, including enacting universal pre-kindergarten and helping to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But his campaign never took off. A slew of national polls showed him stuck with just 1 percent support — and often times even less. A Siena College poll released earlier this week showed him with 0 percent, even in New York City.

De Blasio failed to qualify for the Democratic debate earlier this month and was all but certain to fail to qualify for the one scheduled for October.

His brief campaign was marred with sparsely attended events and a bevy of unforced errors.

He made headlines in August after an event in Iowa drew only about 15 people.

De Blasio attempted to use Twitter to brand Trump as “ConDon,” but that, too, drew mockery because it means condom in Spanish.

And he continued earning the scorn of his fellow New Yorkers for being on the campaign trail during crises in New York City, including a widespread power outage in July.

Even his entrance into the race in May was bogged down with challenges: A Missouri teenager stole the spotlight from his campaign when he scooped the New York City mayor’s announcement.

In dropping out, de Blasio joins a growing list of candidates who ended their runs early — and on their own terms.

Last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced she was ending her presidential bid. Earlier, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and California Rep. Eric Swalwell all also left the Democratic race. There are still 17 people running in the Democratic field.



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