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The September Debate Is Set To Be A Discussion Of Who Can Hand Out The Most Free Stuff

In a race where progressives have dominated the top-tier field of candidates, few moderates qualified for the September debate.


Wednesday was the deadline to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debate in Houston next month, and only 10 candidates will participate making it the one-night event on Sept. 12.

In a race where progressives have dominated the top-tier field of candidates, few moderates qualified for the September debate, setting the stage for a debate of more versus more, who can offer the American public the largest welfare state.

Below are the candidates who met the DNC’s threshold to participate in the event hosted and moderated by ABC News:

  • Joe Biden, former vice president
  • Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
  • Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont
  • Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California
  • Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey
  • Amy Klobuchar, U.S. senator from Minnesota
  • Beto O’Rourke, former U.S. representative from Texas
  • Julian Castro, former U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Andrew Yang, tech entrepreneur

The most moderate candidate on stage will be Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, outnumbered by progressive candidates promising “Medicare for all” and the radical expansion of the U.S. welfare state. While former Vice President Joe Biden has tried to brand himself as a moderate opposing Democrats new signature healthcare proposal and criticizing the idea of decriminalizing border crossings, a closer examination of Biden’s record reveals no moderate.

Last month’s debates became defined as a showdown between progressive candidates at the center of the stage and the moderate candidates flanking them on the issues of healthcare and the “Green New Deal,” calling the proposals unwinnable and unworkable.

[Read the debate highlights here for night one, and here for night two]

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said that Democrats out to “FedEx the election to Donald Trump” if the nominee were to run on the ideas of the Green New Deal.

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) called “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal “bad policy” and “impossible policy.”

The moderates’ attacks failed to resonate with voters. Hickenlooper later dropped out of the race and Delaney failed to come close to qualifying for the next round of Democratic debates.

Several candidates came close to meeting the DNC’s donor and polling threshold for next month’s events but missed the Aug. 28 deadline to meet them. To qualify, candidates must show 130,000 unique donors from across at least 20 different states and register at least 2 percent in polls selected by the DNC. Candidates who met the threshold for the September debate are already qualified for the fourth round of debates in October. Other candidates have six more weeks to meet the DNC requirements to be on the debate stage in October.

Billionaire Tom Steyer met the donor requirements but came one poll away from meeting the four poll threshold for the September stage. If Steyer gets at least 2 percent support in one of the DNC’s pre-approved polls in the next six weeks, the billionaire activist will qualify for the October debate.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI.) also came close to meeting the requirements for next month’s debate. Gabbard’s campaign hit the donor threshold required by the DNC but failed to register enough support in four polls. Gabbard currently only has two qualifying polls under her belt for October.

Self-help author Marianne Williamson met the donor threshold but only polled with enough support in one poll. Williamson criticized the DNC earlier this week for only taking into account 11 polls to determine debate eligibility instead of the 18 that the committee had originally promised.