It’s looking like a two-man race.
As the entire presidential contest is upended by a global pandemic, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden — with their podiums 6 feet apart — are facing off in the first one-on-one debate of the 2020 primary season.
The novel coronavirus has thrust the 2020 campaign into unchartered terrain, in which the candidates are campaigning without campaigning, shifting events online, instructing employees to work from home and grinding field operations to a halt.
Even tonight’s debate was moved from Phoenix to CNN’s studio in Washington, D.C., “out of an abundance of caution,” with no live audience, according to the Democratic National Committee.
However disrupted, the race for president continues.
Biden is currently winning the popular vote and leading in the all-important delegate hunt — after a stunning political revival at the tail end of the first four early nominating contests — with at least 841 estimated delegates compared with 690 for Sanders.
There are 577 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday across Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Iowa.
Here’s how the night is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.
The 11th Democratic debate of the presidential primary season kicks off in the nation’s capital.
Earlier, Sanders’ staff and surrogates held a livestreamed pre-debate show that discussed “policy solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing America today.”
These types of livestreams are nothing new to the Sanders campaign, which regularly broadcasts all of the senator’s rallies and posts videos featuring conversations and interviews with staffers and surrogates — especially now amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
ABC News’ Adam Kelsey reports.
After Biden’s campaign announced on Sunday that the former vice president would adopt a plan offering free tuition to students whose families earn less than $125,000, Sanders’ campaign responded by saying such a plan doesn’t go far enough.
“It’s great that Joe Biden is now supporting a position that was in the Democratic platform four years ago. Now we have to go much further,” a statement from Sanders’ campaign said. “We need to make all public universities, colleges and trade schools tuition-free for everyone like our high schools are. We need to cancel all student debt. And we can fund it with a small tax on Wall Street speculation.”
ABC News’ Adam Kelsey reports.
Senior officials from Biden’s campaign held a press call Sunday afternoon ahead of the debate, giving clear signals that the candidate is attempting to broaden his coalition and reach out to supporters of Sanders, as a general election matchup with Trump becomes more likely.
Biden’s campaign announced that the former vice president would be adopting a plan that would make public colleges and universities free for any students whose families earn less than $125,000 a year — a version of one of Sanders’ plans that he previously proposed with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state. This comes in addition to Biden’s announcement on Friday that he would adopt Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy plan, which was first reported by ABC News.
“Vice President Biden,” a senior adviser said on the call, “is running for president to rebuild the middle class so that this time, everybody comes along. That means an inclusive coalition. So, Vice President Biden is and as president will continue to be open to the best ideas to make this a reality, frankly, regardless of where they come from.”
Biden has also now tweeted about his adoption of both plans from Sanders and Warren, saying he’s proud to add the policies to his platform.
The campaign said Biden will attempt to offer an olive branch to Sanders’ supporters during tonight’s debate, making it clear that there is space for them and their ideas in his campaign.
“We welcome your support,” the adviser said, “but we’re also going to welcome their ideas, their passion and their commitment to the issues that they care so deeply about.”
ABC News’ Johnny Verhovek reports.