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The First Presidential Primary Debate: Politics Daily

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Elaine Godfrey


Activists hold a vigil outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. (Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters)


Tonight’s Democratic debate features only one top-polling candidate—Elizabeth Warren—alongside Bill de Blasio, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Tim Ryan. Here’s where we last left off with these candidates.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City: The man has plenty of governing experience: He runs the largest city in the U.S. and manages a $90 billion budget (but is apparently not very popular in his own city). It’s not clear exactly why he’s running for president.

Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey: The former Newark mayor—who Instagrams a lot of inspirational quotes—isn’t polling super high nationally. But he’s banking on doing well in Iowa.

Julián Castro, former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development: He’s got the most ambitious immigration and police-reform plans in the primary, argues Adam Serwer. Plus, he’s a twin. (Joaquin Castro is not running for president.)

John Delaney, former representative from Maryland: The wealthy 56-year-old was the first candidate to announce his presidential bid, way back in July 2017. His strategy? Meet all of the Iowans!

Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii: She’s a veteran of the Iraq War who advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy. She went to Syria once to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

Jay Inslee, governor of Washington: The single-issue “climate guy” who wanted a debate centered on climate change (the DNC said nope) might just branch out from his signature issue tonight.

Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota: She announced her candidacy in a full blizzard to prove her mettle, and has pitched herself as a nice gal with legal chops from the Midwest. But stories from her staffers suggest otherwise.

Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas: The failed Senate candidate has a surprisingly robust climate-change plan. Still, he’s struggled to maintain momentum since early on in his campaign, when he stood on a lot of countertops.

Tim Ryan, representative from Ohio: The self-proclaimed working-class whisperer and hot-yoga fiend has been strategizing how to get voters’ attention tonight. One expert’s advice? Flail his arms.

Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts: She’s got big plans for solving a lot of America’s problems, including college affordability. She might be more popular, Peter Beinart argues, if voters weren’t so sexist.

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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