2016 Democratic Presidential Debate - Live Blogs & Updates - ABCNews

2016 Democratic Presidential Debate

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee meet in Las Vegas, Nevada for their first presidential primary debate.

The First Democratic Presidential Debate: By the Numbers

From our friends at FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: The most mentioned topics during tonight's debate questions.

Check out FiveThirtyEight's live coverage of the debate.


ABC's CHRISTOPHER DONATO: Trump overtook Hillary Clinton today to become the most followed presidential candidate on Twitter.

Trump currently has 4,548,556 followers.

Hillary Clinton currently has 4,462,892.

Obama Tapes Message Featuring Biden Images For First Democratic Debate

ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: President Obama taped a message that was played in the room just before the Democratic debate began.  Though he won't be on the debate stage tonight, Vice President Joe Biden was featured in some of the images included in the president's message.

"We’re gonna have to fight just as hard in this election as we did in the last two," the president said. "No matter who’s on the ballot next November that's the choice we’re going to face and that’s why I’m still fired up and still ready to go."

"I’m asking you to work even harder," he said. "If we do that, I know Democrats won’t just win the white house and congress, elections down the ticket, we’ll keep building on the extraordinary progress of the last several years."

The Last Time Each Candidate Was on the Debate Stage

ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI: Hillary Clinton was running for president the last time she stood on a debate stage. It was the last Democratic presidential primary debate between herself and Sen. Barack Obama. Things were fiery between her and Obama although they were debating in the City of Brotherly Love on April 16, 2008.

The former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee’s last debate was October 27, 2010. The debate was held at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Back then, Chafee was running as an Independent.

The candidate who’s gone the longest without seeing a debate stage is Jim Webb. Webb was running for U.S. Senate to represent the state of Virginia.  October 9, 2006 marked the last debate between Webb and then-incumbent senator George Allen.

Despite being an outsider in the Democratic race, Sen. Bernie Sanders is no stranger to the stage. Sanders has run for elected office more than a dozen times, his last debate was October 23, 2006.

Former Maryland Governor’s last debate was for the 2010 gubernatorial election on October 21, 2010. Martin O’Malley was successfully re-elected for a second term in office, the race was the first gubernatorial ticket in Maryland to received more than one million votes. 

Calm before the storm. #DemDebate #Chafee2016
by Lincoln Chafee via Instagram

What Republicans are Up to During Democratic Debate

ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ: While Democratic hopefuls are doing last minute preparations for tonight’s first debate, Republican candidates get a chance to sit back, enjoy some popcorn and watch the debate unravel.

Here’s what the GOP hopefuls are up to:


Former Gov. of Texas may not be running for President, but he is coincidentally passing through Sin City, posting this yesterday.

Sydney welcoming her Dad to Las Vegas. #roadtrip #chriskylefrogfoundation #neverforget
by GovernorPerry via Instagram


GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, announced he will be live tweeting the ‘very boring’ (his words) debate. 


Despite trailing behind in the polls, Sen. Rand Paul will be commenting on tonight’s debate during a live-stream, using the hash tag ‘RandLive’. 


Former Gov. of Florida, Jeb Bush told NBC’s Chris Jansing, he will be taking notes during tonight’s debate.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will dedicate the night to America’s favorite pastime, watching the New York Mets take on the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 4 in New York City. 

ABC's CHARLI JAMES: About 200 members of National Nurses United gathered outside the Treasure Island hotel today to endorse Bernie Sanders ahead of tonight's debate.

What the O'Malley Campaign Strategy is for Tonight

ABC's MARYALICE PARKS: Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley plans to say tonight that Clinton is not ready to be president according to his campaign spokesperson.

 "I would say that he should double down tonight, and make the case that he is ready for president and she is not,” deputy campaign manager Lis Smith told CNN today. 

So far, despite his efforts campaigning in early states, O’Malley has not been able to break through in the polls, and lately, he has been ramping up his criticisms of frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Many expect him to go all-in and on the offensive tonight. Will he go after Senator Bernie Sanders too? According to Smith, he plans to highlight policy differences between himself and Sanders, especially on gun control. On the stump O’Malley is quick to highlight his record in Maryland where he passed stricter gun control measures.

Smith added that the campaign is not yet worried about the polls.  "I would not say it is a do-or-die debate,” she continued. “He is a great guy with a great story to tell."

Meet Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- He is Hillary Clinton's biggest competition tonight.
by Veronica.Stracqualursi

Sanders' Campaign Manager on Bernie's Game Plan: 'There's Not Going to be Bombs Thrown"

ABC's MARYALICE PARKS: Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told ABC News that the Vermont Senator is first and foremost focused on “introducing himself” to Democratic voters. He added that many primary voters do not yet know enough about him to have an opinion. And he’s right. According to the ABC- Washington Post poll out this morning, 30 percent of respondents did not yet have an opinion of him, including 26 percent of registered voters. As far as overall strategy, he said Sanders does not plan on going on the attack, but will be sticking to his message. "There’s not going to be bombs thrown, no major surprises,” Weaver said.

Weaver said he ate breakfast with Bernie and and Jane Sanders this morning in their hotel in Henderson, Nevada, which is about 15 miles away from Las Vegas. He said Sanders was calm and rested. He said that their conversation focused on the Senator's responses to potential attacks, specifically about his record on guns among other issues. Weaver added that he thinks the others will try to paint Sanders as not electable, not presidential.

As far as their preparations go, Weaver said they have done very little “mock- debate” work. Instead, he said they have sat around a conference table sharing ideas and brainstorming potential questions and answers. 

Polling Note --

ABC's GARY LANGER and GREGORY HOLYK: Hillary Clinton heads into the first Democratic presidential debate with a slight gain in her basic popularity among all adults. But she’s weaker among independents and vastly unpopular among Republicans.

Among all adults, 47 percent see Clinton favorably in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, vs. 49 percent unfavorably. If not an inspiring score, that’s better than her 45-53 percent in August, when her unfavorable rating was a point from its highest in ABC/Post polls since 1992. Read more.

Meet the former U.S. Senator from Virginia who is hoping to make it to the White House.
by Veronica.Stracqualursi

Well Wishes for Bernie?

ABC's MARYALICE PARKSBernie Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders reached out to fans today, asking them to sign a card for the Senator before his big night tonight. 

Jane, who almost always accompanies Bernie Sanders on the road at campaign events, wrote about the first Democratic Party debate tonight. "We’re all a little bit nervous,” she said. "It will be the first time Bernie gets a chance to share his message with a national audience of millions of people at once. But we’re also excited for the opportunity.

Bernie likes to say in his speeches that he and Jane have been married  27-years and have seven grandchildren. Last week in Boulder, Colorado he called Jane  “one tough lady.

"I don’t know how she does it,” he said. 

In her note today, Jane described first meeting him. "Many of you know the story of how I first met Bernie: I organized a debate while he was running for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. When I heard him speak, he embodied everything I had ever believed in. I just fell in love that night … with his ideas. And shortly after with Bernie himself.

Learn more about the former Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, before tonight's debate.
by Veronica.Stracqualursi

POTUS Won't Watch Dems Debate "Wire to Wire"

ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he doesn’t expect President Obama to watch the Democratic debate “wire-to-wire” this evening,  given the MLB playoff games.

I don’t think he will watch it wire-to-wire,” Earnest said at the ongoing daily press briefing. “I anticipate that he will be doing a little channel surfing.”  

The president is “certainly interested in the debate,” Earnest added.

My essentials for #cnndebate prep: coffee and newspaper. #chafee2016
by Lincoln Chafee via Instagram

Hillary’s been debating the issues that matter to Americans since high school. Tell her you’re with her before she takes the stage at the first Democratic Party debate tomorrow in Las Vegas!<br><br>Link in bio.
by Hillary Clinton via Instagram

Draft Biden Releases New TV Ad to Air Before Democratic Debate

ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: Draft Biden, the super-PAC urging Joe Biden to run for president, released a new ad today that will run before tonight’s first Democratic debate, which the vice president is not scheduled to attend.

The ad, titled “Never Quit,” replaces the emotional spot featuring the story of Biden's personal experience with tragedy after the death of his first wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter Naomi in a 1972 car crash. Read the full article here.

Draft Biden, the super-PAC urging Joe Biden to run for president, released this ad today that will run before tonight’s first Democratic debate, which the vice president is not scheduled to attend.
by Veronica.Stracqualursi via YouTube


ABC’s ALANA ABRAMSON: In a live interview with Washington Post reporter Paul Kane last night, Nevada’s senior Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, sharply criticized the presidential primary saying states like Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn’t have such an outsize role in the process.

You go to New Hampshire there are not any minorities there and no one lives there. You go to Iowa and there are a few people there, but again it’s a place that does not demonstrate what America is all about, for a lot of different reasons.” he said. By contrast, he said his home state is more representative of the country. “I don’t mean to denigrate New Hampshire or Iowa but they shouldn’t be the ones choosing who’s going to be president.”

Reid declined to endorse any of the Democratic candidates in the race, noting that in 2008, he didn’t endorse until after the caucuses.(He threw his support behind Barack Obama in June 2008).

When asked about Vice President Joe Biden, he said “he’s a man who’s overcome a lot and I like him.” Reid offered the comments at a debate “pre-game event” hosted by the Washington Post at the MGM Grand Hotel and Conference Center in Las Vegas.

According to ABC News' New Hampshire affiliate station WMUR, fellow Democrats Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen called for an apology from Sen. Reid for "insulting" the Granite State.

“Sen. Reid’s disparaging comments about New Hampshire are as insulting as they are wrong, and an apology would certainly be appropriate." Gov. Hassan wrote in a statement released today. 

"Obviously I think that Harry Reid is wrong. He doesn’t understand the New Hampshire primary and why it’s so important to the election process. Clearly, he hasn’t been to New Hampshire," Sen. Shaheen added, according to WMUR.

5 Candidates and 5 Things They Need to Prove at the First Democratic Debate

ABC's MARYALICE PARKS and LIZ KREUTZ: Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner, and tonight she needs to remind people why. After a summer bogged down with her ongoing email controversy and dropping poll numbers, Clinton now has a fresh opportunity to reintroduce her vision for the presidency to voters, and to step up to the plate and prove party skeptics wrong. 

For the first time, she will come face to face with her closest challenger, and the progressive favorite, Bernie Sanders. 

In many ways, Sanders has the most to lose. As the leading alternative to Clinton, he comes into the night with the most momentum and excitement behind him. The question now – can he handle it?

Martin O’Malley has set expectations high for himself, and his campaign has been busy tweeting pictures showing the young, studly governor getting ready, working hard, and working out! But O’Malley needs to do more than look good, he needs to make something happen. Stuck in single digits in the polls, O’Malley needs a big night. 

Lincoln Chafee’s primary concern on the debate stage will be to introduce himself and his record to the majority of voters who do not know him. Like Chafee, Jim Webb’s first task is to introduce himself and his ideas to the American people. 

Read the full article here.

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