Democratic debates 2019: After hitting impeachment hard, Biden urged voters to 'overcome the damage' Trump has done

Gillibrand: "Trump has really torn apart the moral fabric of the country."

August 1, 2019, 12:10 AM

After Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren fended off repeated attacks from moderate competitors, the next 10 presidential primary contenders took the stage Wednesday for the second night of the second Democratic debates.

Here is how the night is unfolding. (Please refresh for updates.)

11:40 p.m. 2020 candidates appear on ABC News Live from the spin room

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard post-debate spoke with ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Rick Klein on her debate performance and answered a question from a voter on whether she believed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's used chemical weapons.

"There's evidence that...continues to come out. I have always said that if that evidence proves that he is guilty, he should be prosecuted," Gabbard said.

Andrew Yang joined ABC News Live next and highlighted the need for Democrats to focus on beating President Donald Trump instead of attacking each other.

"I think it's unfortunate. The Democrats need to focus on beating Donald Trump in 2020 and not beat each other up," Andrew Yang said when asked about the clash between Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden.

11:37 p.m. Here are the 5 takeaways from the 2nd night of the Democratic debate

Even before all the candidates took the stage in Detroit on Wednesday for the second night of the latest Democratic primary debate, the looming conflict at center stage was already apparent.

"Go easy on me kid," former Vice President Joe Biden said with a smile to California Sen. Kamala Harris, who he sparred with in last month's debate. Night two also put the diversity of the Democratic Party on display, with all of the candidates of color running for the Democratic presidential nomination taking the stage to pitch themselves as the candidate that can defeat President DonaldTrump.

Sen. Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates, July 31, 2019, in Detroit.
Paul Sancya/AP

Both Harris and Biden were targets of constant attacks from rivals across the stage Wednesday night, with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee all taking aim at the two polling frontrunners over their records and their plan to lead the Democrats to victory against President Trump in 2020.

Booker sharply criticized Biden over criminal justice reform, Inslee hit Biden over his plan to combat climate change, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said Biden hadn't "learned the lessons of the past" on immigration.

Here are five takeaways from the night two of the second Democratic primary debate, the final contest before the Democratic National Committee imposes stricter qualifying standards, making it tougher for a large swath of candidates to make the stage.

ABC News' Johnny Verhovek reporting.

11:32 p.m. Democratic debates 2nd night zingers: 'Kool-Aid,' 'Go easy on me kid,' 'Clorox'

"Kool-Aid." "Asian man who likes math." "Clorox the Oval Office."

Missed some of the jabs, one-liners and gaffs from the stage that received big responses? ABC News has a recap. Check it out here.

11:06 p.m. ABC News Political Director Rick Klein: Biden and Harris play defense, as sharper elbows open new fronts in race

This time, Joe Biden was better prepared. But his rivals were, too.

A more aggressive tact from the former vice president didn’t stop the heat from coming his way at night two of the second presidential debate on Wednesday. But it did help him deflect at least some of the scrutiny, even as new fronts were opened up in a still-scattered nomination fight. Read his full analysis here.


10:53 p.m. ABC News Political Commentator Cokie Roberts: 'Joe Biden survived.'

Joe Biden survived. With just about every other candidate attacking one aspect of the former vice president's record after another, Biden fought back with examples of his own with problematic episodes in his opponents' past. He had clearly done his homework. He wasn't articulate in his arguments, but then he never has been. He is likely to remain the frontrunner for the time being as the other candidates continue to look for ways to distinguish themselves and break out of the pack. That didn't happen tonight.

10:47 p.m. The debate has ended

A night of quick punches and tense debate has ended.

10:46 p.m. Biden gets the last word

Former Vice President Joe Biden gave the last remarks of the night, ending the debate with these words, "This most consequential election anyone of you has ever participated in. Four more years of Donald Trump will go down as an aberration. Hard to overcome the damage he's done. We can overcome it."

10:45 p.m. Harris makes the case for the Oval Office

Sen. Kamala Harris, invoking her background as a prosecutor, continued her refrain about prosecuting the president, saying in her closing remarks, "What we need is someone who is going to ... defeat him by being able to prosecute the case against four more years ... So we must defeat him and then in turning the page, write the next chapter."

10:44 p.m. Booker suggests the field should focus on more than just beating Trump

"I have a frustration sometimes people the only thing they want is to beat Donald Trump," Sen. Cory Booker said. "That's the floor, not the ceiling. To not just focus on him, he wants to take all the oxygen out of the room. It's when we focus on each other. And understand our common bonds and purpose to address our common pain is what is saved us before. It's going to save us now. That is the kind of leader that I'm going to be as president of the United States."

10:37 p.m. Gillibrand: " Trump has really torn apart the moral fabric of the country"

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Donald Trump has really torn apart the moral fabric of the country. Dividing us on every racial line, every religious line, every economic line he can find. I'm running for president because I want to help people."

"This is the warmonger hoax. There is no shelter. It's all a lie. As president, I will end this insanity. It doesn't have to be this way ... as your president I will put your interest above all else," Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said, "I believe that we need leadership that understands that we need to move forward as one nation. With one destiny. And our destiny in the years to come is to be the smartest, healthiest, fairest, and the most prosperous nation on Earth. If you want to help me build that America for the future...and on January 20th, 2021. We'll say together, 'Adios' to Donald Trump.

In a reference to his tie-less look for both debates, Andrew Yang said, "If you care more about your family and kids than my neckwear. Enter your zip code and see what $1,000 a month would mean to your community. It's not left or right. The math is forward. And that is how we'll beat Donald Trump in 2020."

10:32 p.m. Candidates end the night with closing remarks

Mayor Bill de Blasio said: "For the last three years we watched Trump pit working people against each other. Black vs. White. Citizen vs. Immigrant. So the wealthy and powerful can hold the American dream hostage from everyone else. We can't let them get away wi it. If we're going to beat trump this party has to stand for something. The party of labor unions. This has to be the party of universal healthcare. This has to be the party that's not afraid to say out loud we're going to tax the hell out of the wealthy."

Sen. Michael Bennet said: "We have an incredible opportunity in front of us. All of us. To come together just as our parents and grandparents did before them, and face challenges even harder than the ones we face. The only way we'll be able to do it is to put the divisive politics of Trump behind us and the divisive politics of the last ten years behind us. We need to come together united against a broken Washington. Make Trump a one-term president."

Gov. Jay Inslee said: "The survival of humanity on this planet in civilization is in the hands of the next president. And we have to have a leader who will do what is necessary to save us. That includes making this the top priority of the next presidency. I alone on this panel making a commitment that this will be the organizing principle of the administration not the first day, but every day."

10:31p.m. Candidates start to offer closing statements

After a night of wide-ranging topics, the candidates are offering closing statements.

10:25 p.m. Sen. Michael Bennet warns against impeachment

After cautioning against impeaching in the past, the Colorado senator echoed those sentiments on the debate stage.

"As we go forward here we need to recognize a very practical reality. We have the August recess, yhen we're four months from the Iowa caucus. And I just want to make sure whatever we do, doesn't end up with an acquittal by Mitch Mcconnell in the Senate and President Trump is saying he was acquitted by the congress. I belief we have a moral obligation to beat Donald Trump. He has to be a single term president. And we can't do anything that plays into his hands."

But former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, pushed back against Bennet's position, replying, "I really do believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time."

"We have an election coming up," he said. "At the same time, I think that too many folks in the Senate and Congress have been spooked by 1998. The times are different. Folks are making a mistake by not seeking impeachment. He deserves it."

10:24 p.m.: Cory Booker reiterates call for impeachment proceedings to begin from the stage

After not a single mention of the 'I' word on night one, Sen. Cory Booker asserted Wednesday night, "I believe that we in the United States Congress should start impeachment proceedings. Immediately."

He continued: "The politics of this be dammed. When we look at history at what happened when the president started acting like an authoritarian, the question is what will we have done? And I believe Congress should do its job."

10:23 p.m. President Donald Trump, Mueller and obstruction of justice take center stage at the debate

"I read the report. There are ten clear incidents of obstruction of justice. By this president and he needs to be held accountable. I have seen people go to prison for far less. And the reality of it we have a person in the White House right now who has been shielded by a memo," Sen. Kamala Harris said.

10:22 p.m.: Joe Biden addresses 2003 vote to send troops to Iraq

After voting in favor of authorizing the Iraq war in 2003 as a member of the Senate, former Vice President Joe Biden addressed that decision, saying, "I did make a bad judgment trusting the president saying he was only doing this to get inspectors in and get the UN to agree. From the moment shock and awe started and that moment I was opposed to the effort and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration."

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard again backed up Biden, adding, "We were all lied to. This is the betrayal."

10:17 p.m.: Tulsi Gabbard says the wars in the Middle East aren't about 'arbitrary deadlines' but 'leadership'

As the only veteran on stage Wednesday night, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard shared her view on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, telling the crowd: "My cousin is deployed now. 300 of the Hawaii National Guard soldiers are deployed. 14,000 service members are there. It's not about arbitrary deadlines this is about leadership. The leadership I will bring to do the right thing to bring our troops home within the first year in office."

"We have to do the right thing and end the wasteful regime change wars and bring our troops home," she said

10:12 p.m. Sen. Kamala Harris pressed Vice President Joe Biden on the Hyde amendment

Harris called into question Biden's previous stance on the Hyde amendment saying, "Why did it take you so long to change your position on the Hyde amendment?"

Biden responded saying, "There was not full federal funding for all reproductive services. Prior to this point."

10:10 p.m.: Kirsten Gillibrand targets Joe Biden over women working outside the home

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand asked Biden directly about an op-ed he wrote, in which she claims he said, women working outside the home would quote "create the deterioration of family."

Former Vice President Joe Biden fired back, "I'm passionate about the concern making sure women are treated equally. I don't know what happened except you're running for president."

Democratic presidential candidates at the Democratic Presidential Debate, July 31, 2019, in Detroit.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

10:05 p.m. Andrew Yang tackles equal pay

Yang, the only entrepreneur on the stage, was asked about fixing the gender pay gap in the country.

"What we have to do is give women economic freedom to improve their situations and start businesses and the best way to do this is putting a dividend of $1,000 a month into their hands. It would be a game-changer. Women do more of the unrecognized and uncompensated work in the society. It will not change unless we change it," Yang said.

10:05 p.m.: The view from watch parties in Iowa

The Polk County Democrats hosted about 35 local Democrats for its second debate watch party of the week in a busy restaurant minutes from downtown Des Moines.

Kevin Cavallin from Ames, Iowa is not sure who will have his support, but he is concerned about which candidate will be able to win in a general election. Commenting on the back and forth on healthcare early in the debate, he said, “I don't know which one's a good option because I'm for a single-payer system, but I think that the American people lack the political will to make it happen.”

Ryan Crane, who lives in Des Moines, is deciding between Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren. Explaining why they are his top candidates, he said, “I want somebody who can beat Donald Trump, but I also want somebody who can actually move the needle on progressive issues.”

Later in the evening, when Tulsi Gabbard criticized Kamala Harris saying: “the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology,” the room broke into its most enthusiastic applause of the evening.

Claire Potter contributed to this report.

10:04 p.m.: Joe Biden says he would renegotiate the TPP

Former Vice President Joe Biden, when asked if he would rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership that President Trump withdrew from, first said, "I would renegotiate ... We must have the rest of the world join us to keep nem in check from abusing."

When asked again if he would rejoin the TPP, Biden clarified, "I would not as it was initially put forward. I would insist that we renegotiate pieces."

Then when asked by New York City Bill de Blasio if he would "oppose a new NAFTA," Biden simply replied, "Yes."

But then Biden added, "Well, I love your affection for me. You spend a lot of time with me," after several attacks directed his way from the mayor throughout the night.

10:01 p.m. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard takes on China

When asked if she would keep President Trump's tariffs on China Gabbard answered, "I would not. The approach that president trump has taken has been extremely volatile. Without any clear plan. It has a ravaging and devastating effect on manufacturers. On farmers. Who are already struggling and failing to see the light of day because of the plan trump has taken."

9:53 p.m.: Andrew Yang pushes back against electability question

When asked about recent polling that shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading among the Democrats who holds the best chance of beating President Trump, Andrew Yang responded, "I'm building a coalition of trump voters, independents and libertarians and democratic and progressives. I'm best to suited to beat Trump. How to win in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, the problem is that so many people feel like the economy has left them behind."

9:50 p.m. Former Vice President speaks to progressives

Former Vice President Joe Biden is asked to answer if how he can appeal to progressives in the Democratic party so he can defeat President Donald Trump to which he responds: "Because we did it. I was asked to manage an $87 billion plan that would be spent in a total of 18 months that revived this state and many others because -- and it kept us out of a depression. With 0.2 of 1% of waste or fraud. And our administration pushed bailing general motors out saving tens of thousands of jobs here in this state."

9:45 p.m. The Green New Deal gets its' moment again in night two of the debate

After Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "The first thing that I'm going to do when I'm president is I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office", she was asked to defend theGreen New Deal which she co-sponsors.

"Why not have a green energy race with China? Why not have clean air and clean water for all Americans? Why not rebuild our infrastructure? Why not actually invest in green jobs. That's what the green new deal is about. I will put a price on carbon to make market forces help us," Gillibrand said.

9:43 p.m.: Harris: 'I would take any Democrat on this stage' over Trump on climate change

"I have to agree with Governor Inslee... He's been pushing science fiction instead of science fact," Sen. Kamala Harris said about President Donald Trump's climate agenda.

She then added: "The reality is I would take any Democrat on this stage over the current president of the United States."

9:40 p.m.: Andrew Yang says 'we are too late' on climate change

Andrew Yang, delivering a sobering reality to the crowd on the climate crisis, said, "Even if we were to curb or emissions dramatically, the Earth is going to get warmer."

"The last four years have been the four warmest years in history. We are too late. We are ten years too late," he continued, before adding, "We need to do everything we can to start moving the climate in the right direction."

9:38 p.m. The debate switches to climate change

Gov. Jay Inslee, who has made climate change the central mantra of his campaign, takes the first question on why he's made this his top priority.

"Look, climate change is not a singular issue, it is all the issues that we Democrats care about. It is health, it is national security. It is our economy. And we know this, middle-ground solutions, like the vice president has proposed or sort of average-sized things are not going to save us. Too little, too late is too dangerous. And we have to have a bold plan. And mine has been called the gold standard," Inslee said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden responds to his attack saying, "The fact of the matter is nothing is middle ground about my plan. I call for immediate action to be taken."

He added, "Here's the deal, in that area, there's also piece, 85% of it is something I helped negotiate and that is the Paris climate accord. I would rejoin that accord."

9:36 p.m.: Kirsten Gillibrand aims to take the mantle on racial divide

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, seeking to share responsibility for leading on the conversation about race, said, "I don't believe it's the responsibility of Cory and Kamala to take this on. I think as a white woman running for president of the United States, it is my responsibility to lift up those voices that aren't being listened to."

She continued, bringing up white privilege, a topic she has discussed more than once on the campaign trail, "I can talk to those white women in the suburbs and explain to them what white privilege is. When their son is walking down the street wearing a hoodie, his whiteness protects him from not being shot."

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Gillibrand is referencing the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black teenager, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in the dead of the night after following him for several minutes. Zimmerman told police Martin looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie.

9:32 p.m.: Jay Inslee invokes gubernatorial tenure to stand out

While responding to Sen. Michael Bennet's remarks on the racial divide, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, "I approach this question with humility because I have not experienced what many Americans have. I've never been a black teenager pulled over in a white neighborhood. I've never been a woman talked over in a meeting. I've never been an LGBTQ member subject to a slur. And so I have believed I have an added responsibility, a double responsibility to deal with racial disparity."

"This is a common error that every single senator on this stage, as much as I respect them all, they all have an enormous error which is going to prevent our party from making any progressive progress in the United States and it is this: We are all going to work like the dickens to get more Democrats elected to the senate," he continued.

9:31 p.m. Donald Trump's recent racially toned remarks come under fire

"The president's racist rhetoric should be enough grounds for everybody in this country to vote him out of office. That one thing alone should be enough," Sen. Michael Bennet said.

9:30 p.m.: Harris, Gabbard spar over the senator's record as a prosecutor

When asked about her defense of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard directed her criticisms at Sen. Kamala Harris, saying: "I want to bring the conversation back to the criminal justice system that is disproportionately affecting black and brown people."

"I'm concerned about this record of Senator Harris. She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way."

Harris, again on defense, pushed back: "I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of the state of 40 million people which became a national model for the work that needs to be done. And I am proud of that work."

But Gabbard continued to slam Harris' record, saying, "When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people's lives, you did not and worse yet in the case of those who are on death row, you blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so. There's no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology."

Harris then replied, "I think you can judge people by when they are under fire and it's not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they're in the position to actually make a decision what do they do, when I was in the position of having to decide whether or not to seek a death penalty on cases I prosecuted, I made a very difficult decision that was not popular to not seek the death penalty. History shows that and I am proud of those decisions."

9:30 p.m. Trying to figure our the facts in this debate? Check out the ABC News fact check

Here's ABC News' fact check of the second of two Democratic presidential debates in Detroit between Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

9:26 p.m. Biden strikes back on busing and Sen. Kamala Harris' record as a prosecutor

"When senator Harris was the attorney general for eight years in the state of California, there were two of the most segregated school districts in the country, in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And she did not -- I didn't see a single time she brought a case against them to desegregate them. She's also in a situation where she had a police department when she was there that in fact was abusing people's rights and the fact was that she, in fact, was told by her own people that her own staff, that she should do something about and disclose to defense attorneys like me that you, in fact, have been -- the police officer did something that did not give you information that would help your client. She didn't do that. She never did it," Biden said.

Harris pushed back, saying, "That is simply not true."

"As attorney general of California where I ran the second largest department of justice in the United States, I am proud of the work we did. Work that has received national recognition for what has been the important work of reforming a criminal justice system and cleaning up the consequences of the bills that you passed when you were in the United States senate for decades," she added."

9:24 p.m.: Kamala Harris takes on bussing once again

When asked about her current position on bussing, which former Vice President Joe Biden said they share, Sen. Kamala Harris responded: "That is simply false."

"When Vice President Biden was in the United States Senate working with segregationists to oppose bussing which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America's public schools, had I been in the Senate at that time I would have been on the other side of the aisle," she said. "Had those segregationists their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States Senate and President Obama would not have been in a position to nominate him to the place he holds."

9:23 p.m. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand calls for the firing of the officer who killed Eric Garner

Gillibrand said that Mayor Bill de Blasio's answer on the death of Eric Garner was not adequate and that the police officer should have been fired.

"I sat down with Eric Garner's mother and I can tell you when you've lost your son, when he begged for breath, when you know because you have a video, when you know he said I can't breathe so many times over and over again, when you know he used an illegal choke hold, that person should be fired and as -- if I was the mayor I would fire him. But as president, I would make sure that we had a full investigation, that the report would be made public."

9:21 p.m.: Bill de Blasio forced to answer on Eric Garner

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, when asked why the police officer who killed Eric Garner is still on the street, he said. "I know the Garner family, they've gone through extraordinary pain. They're waiting for justice and they're going to get justice. There's going to be justice. I have confidence in that."

9:18 p.m. Julian Castro touts his police reform policy proposal

As the Democrats switch the conversation to criminal justice reform, Castro highlights his proposal to reform policing in America.

"I'm proud that I'm the only candidate that has put forward a police reform plan. Because we have a system that is broken and we need to fix it. Whether it's the case of someone like Michael Brown, or Eric Garner where the justice department decided not to pursue challenges, we need to have a standard and that we end qualified immunity for police officers so we can hold them accountable," Castro said."

9:16 p.m.: Biden, Booker bump heads on criminal justice records

The first question of the night on criminal justice reform went to former Vice President Joe Biden, on Sen. Cory Booker's criticisms of his plan, to which he replied, "I think he is wrong. I think we should work together. He has a similar plan. We should change the way we look at prisons. When someone is convicted of a drug crime they end up going to jail and to prison. They should be going to rehabilitation."

Sen. Cory Booker and former Vice President speak during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Booker then followed up, taking aim at Biden's long legislative record.

"My response is this is a crisis in our country because we have treated issues of race and poverty and addiction by locking people up and not lifting them up. Since the 1970s, every crime bill, major and minor, has had his name on it," Booker said to Biden.

"And those are your words, not mine," he added.

Biden, first inserting a joke, responded, "The bills that the president -- excuse me, the future president, that the senator is talking about, are bills that were passed years ago and passed overwhelmingly."

He then took aim at Booker's record as mayor of Newark: "In 2007 you became mayor and you had a police department that you went out and hired Rudy Giuliani's guy and you engaged in stop and frisk. You had 75% of those stops reviewed as illegal, the justice department came after you for saying you were engaging in behavior that was inappropriate, and then, in fact, nothing happened. The entire time you were mayor."

Booker then said, "I'm glad he endorsed my presidency already," before adding, "If you want to compare records and I'm shocked that you do, I am happy to do that."

9:08 p.m. Cory Booker slams Former Vice President Joe Biden on Obama

After Vice President Joe Biden tried to separate himself from former President Barack Obama's immigration policies, Sen. Cory Booker came with a quick response to Obama's name being thrown into the debate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates, July 31, 2019, in Detroit.
Paul Sancya/AP

"First of all, you can't have it both ways. You invoke president Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and dodge it when it's not," Booker said.

9:06 p.m.: Tulsi Gabbard tackles student loan debt, as youngest contender on stage

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the youngest candidate on stage at 38-years old, brought up the issue of student loan debt in a question about giving tuition-free college for undocumented immigrants, highlighting her age difference from some of her rivals at the podiums Wednesday.

"We've got to look at the challenge that people all across this country are facing under crushing student debt. This is something that's impacting my generation in a huge way and I believe that it is our generation that has the bold, creative solutions to be able to solve it," she said.

9:05 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio questions Joe Biden on deportations during his time as vice president

De Blasio pressed Biden on wether her tried to stop mass deportation of illegal immigrants during his time serving as vice president in the Obama-administration to which he responded, "The president came along and he’s the guy that came up with the idea, first time ever of dealing with the dreamers. He put that in the law. He talked about a comprehensive plan which he put on -- laid before the congress saying that we should find a pathway to citizenship for people."

The New York Mayor again pressed him to answer the question further and Biden responded, " I was vice president. I'm not the president. I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you, I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately. That is not what I do."

9:03 p.m.: Biden, Yang share a moment over immigration

Wrapping his comments on his vision for immigration, former Vice President Joe Biden said directly to Andrew Yang, "Anybody who crosses the stage with a Ph.D., should get a green card for seven years. We should keep them here."

Yang, the son of immigrants, replied: "Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President."

9:02 p.m. Cory Booker defends his proposed immigration policy

" An unlawful crossing is an unlawful crossing if you do in the civil courts or the criminal courts. The criminal courts is giving Donald Trump the ability to violate the human rights of people coming to our country. They're human rights. And so doing it through the civil courts means you won't need these awful detention facilities that I've been to. Seeing children sleeping on pavement, people being put in cages, nursing mothers, small children, this is not necessary.

9:00 p.m.: Andrew Yang, the son of immigrants, hopes to change debate around immigration

Recounting his own family's history amid a tense debate over immigration, Andrew Yang jumped in to say, "My father immigrated here and generated over 65 U.S. Patents for GE and IBM. That's the immigration story we need to be telling."

"We can't always been focusing on some of the distressing stories. If you go to a factory here in Michigan, you will not find wall to wall immigrants, you will find wall to wall machines. Immigrants are being scapegoated for something they have nothing to do with," he added.

8:58 p.m. Former Vice President Joe Biden comes for Julian Castro

Julian Castro, who used to work alongside Biden in the Obama-administration, came under fire from the former Vice President for his proposed immigration policies.

"I found that the secretary, we sat together in many meetings, I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary," Biden said.

Castro responded to loud applause saying, "It looks like one of us has learned from the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't."

Castro added that we need to have guts on this issue to which Biden said, "I have guts enough to say his plan doesn't make sense."

8:57 p.m.: Harris, Bennet and Gillibrand take aim at Trump over immigration agenda

In a couple of minutes of unity, three senators were aligned as they all took aim at the current president over immigration.

Democratic presidential hopeful entrepreneur Andrew Yang delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

"These children have not committed crimes and should not be treated like criminals," Sen. Kamala Harris said.

Sen Michael Bennet chimed in: "There's not a single person on this stage if were president would ever separate a child from their parents at the border ... That is what this administration has done in the American people's name, they have turned our border into a symbol of hostility, the symbol of this country before Donald Trump was president was the statue of liberty. That should be the symbol of the United States of America."

And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand added: "No president before President Trump enforced the law in the way he has enforced it because he's using it as the crutch to lock up women and children, to separate mothers and babies, to put them behind bars. So I don't think we should have a law on the books that can be so misused. It should be a civil violation and we should make sure that we treat people humanely."

8:53 p.m. ABC News' Mary Bruce and MaryAlice Parks analyze attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris' health care plan

Senator Harris is taking every chance she gets to pivot back to Biden and their differences over health care.

But Harris also has a target on her back tonight and she is being forced over and over again to explain and defend her new plan. And it doesn't appear to be her forte.

For example, she just tried to make a passionate plea that private companies shouldn't be making profits off of people's health care... but her plan keeps private for-profit companies in the game.

ABC News' Mary Bruce and MaryAlice Parks contributed to this report>

8:52 p.m. Democrats switch the conversation to immigration

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro is asked to defend his stance on decriminalizing illegal border crossings.

"My plan would make sure that we put undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, that we do a 21st Century marshal plan with countries so we can get to the root of this challenge so people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of having to come to the United States. That's how we can be smarter, more effective and more humane when it comes to immigration policy," Castro said.

8:50 p.m.: Joe Biden drops his first 'malarkey' of the night

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in another defense of the Affordable Care Act, targeted his rivals' plans on health care, saying, "They can buy into this plan and they can buy into it with $1,000 deductible and never have to pay more than 8.5% of their income when they do it and if they don't have any money, they will get in free.," he began of his health care plan. "So this idea is a bunch of malarky we're talking about here. The fact of the matter is, there will be a deductible on their paycheck. Bernie acknowledges it. $30 trillion has to ultimately be paid and I don't know what math you do in New York, I don't know what math you do in California but I tell Ya, that's a lot of money and there will be a deductible." caught on to Biden’s use of “malarkey” and offered the definition defines “malarkey” as: noun Informal. speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress; bunkum.

ABC News' Robert Gehlen contributed reporting.

8:49 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio says Michael Bennet is 'fear-mongering' on universal health care

"I don't want why Democrats on this stage are fear-mongering about universal health care. It makes no sense," de Blasio said.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked de Blasio who he was referring to and the New York mayor responded, "With all due respect, what Senator Bennett is saying is absolutely inaccurate about taxes. Americans right now are paying so much money for their health care, ask people about the reality of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses."

Bennet responded, "This has nothing to do with Republican talking points or the pharmaceutical industry. This has to do with having faith in the American people they can make the right decisions for their families, and they can choose a public option. Bernie Sanders who said last night he wrote the bill and did just like I wrote the public option bill is the guy who says it will cost $32 trillion and that we're going to have to raise those taxes to pay for it."

8:47 p.m.: Andrew Yang inserts his business acumen into health care debate

The lone entrepreneur on stage, Andrew Yang, invoked his business experience when talking about health care.

"Democrats are talking about health care in the wrong way. As someone who has run a business, I can tell you flat out our current health care system makes it harder to hire, makes it harder to treat people well and give them benefits and makes it harder to switch jobs as Senator Harris says and harder to start a business. If we say look, we'll get health care off the backs of businesses and families, then watch American entrepreneurship recover."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates, July 31, 2019, in Detroit.
Paul Sancya/AP

"That's the argument we should be making to the American people," he added.

8:44 p.m. Gov. Jay Inslee answers for health care in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to recent health care legislation he signed into law in Washington saying, "I'm proud of our state that has done less squabbling in getting things done and I'm proud we're the first state to offer a publicly sanctioned offer of health care to our citizens. I'm also proud that we didn't stop there. We're also the first state that has taken care of our elders, our seniors. We have a looming retirement wave coming up. I'm proud our state made them eligible to retire in dignity. I think we need to talk more about this as Democrats."

8:41 p.m.: 'Friends' Michael Bennet and Kamala Harris spar over employer-based health care

In the middle of fielding several attacks over her "Medicare for All" plan, Sen. Kamala Harris took a moment to respond to one from Sen. Michael Bennet, saying, "With all due respect to my friend Michael Bennett, my plan does not offer anything that is illegal. What it does is it separates the employer from health care meaning that where you work will not be -- the kind of health care you get will not be a function of where you work."

Bennet continued to criticize her, responding, "I have to say if we can't admit, if we can't admit tonight what's in the plan, which is banning employer-based insurance, we won't be able to admit that when Donald Trump is accusing Democrats of doing that, as well."

Harris quipped, "We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this. You got to stop."

8:39 p.m. Michael Bennet weighs in on Medicare-for-All

Sen. Michael Bennet when asked if Medicare-for-All will get President Trump re-elected said, "I agree it makes it much more likely. Unlike others on this stage, I've been crystal clear where I've been through a decade through two tough races in Colorado. I believe we should finish the job we started with the Affordable Care Act with a public auction that gives everybody in this audience a chance to pick for their family if they want private or public insurance and requires drug companies to be negotiated with by medicare and provides competition."

8:37 p.m.: Tulsi Gabbard takes a jab at Kamala Harris

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard went on offense against Sen. Kamala Harris for her health care plan, saying, "Kamala Harris talked about Kathleen [Sibelius] that helped write her bill. Sibelius works for a company that stands to profit under her plan. If we're seeking to reform the health care system, we have to shutout big insurance and pharma say they cannot be on the backs of those sick people in the country that are in desperate need of care."

Candidate former Vice President Joe Biden before the start of the second night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

But Harris hit back, aiming to correct the congresswoman, asserting, "Unfortunately, Representative Gabbard got it wrong. She did not write my plan, she endorsed it."

8:35 p.m. Sen. Cory Booker takes aim at Trump

Sen. Cory Booker before detailing his own health care plan, takes jabs at President Donald Trump saying, "First of all, let me say that the person that's enjoying this debate most right now is Donald Trump. We pit Democrats against each other while he is working right now to take away Americans' health care. There is a court case working through the system that will gut the Affordable Care Act and actually get for preexisting conditions."

8:34 p.m. Former Vice President Joe Biden defends wanting to expand Affordable Care Act

Biden responded to Mayor Bill de Blasio claims that building on the Affordable Care Act is not the best path forward to improving our health care system.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopefuls former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris greet each other ahead of the second round of the second Democratic primary debate  in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Democratic presidential hopefuls former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris greet each other ahead of the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

"My response is Obamacare is working," Biden said. "The way to build this and get to it immediately is to build on Obamacare. Go back and take back all the things that trump took away, provide a public option, meaning every single person in America would be able to buy another option if they didn't like their employer plan or on Medicaid they would automatically be in the plan."

8:33 p.m.: Bill de Blasio takes aim at both Biden, Harris

In his first opportunity to pitch a national audience of the night, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio immediately took aim at polling frontrunners Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, saying, "I don't know what the vice president and senator are talking about. The folks I talk to about health insurance say it isn't working for them. Tens of millions of Americans don't have health insurance."

As a lower-polling candidate, de Blasio is seeking a breakout moment.

He continued: "What I hear from union workers and hard-working middle-class people is they wish they had better insurance and are angry at private insurance companies that skim the profits off the top and make it impossible for everyday people to get mental care, dental care."

8:28 p.m.: Kamala Harris fields first question on her "Medicare For All" plan

When asked about former Vice President Joe Biden's attacks on her health care plan, released earlier this week, Sen. Kamala Harris responded, "They are probably confused because they have not read it."

"The reality is I have been spending time in this campaign listening to American families, listening to experts, listening to health care providers, and what I came away with is a very clear understanding that I needed to create a plan that was responsive to the needs of the American people, responsive to their needs of understanding that insurance companies have been jacking up the prices for far too long."

Biden then replied, "My response is the senator had several plans so far and any time someone tells you you're going to get something good in ten years, you should wonder why it takes ten years," before adding, "you can't beat President Trump with double talk on this plan."

8:25 p.m. The top two candidates on stage close out the opening statements

Sen. Kamala Harris said, "This is a moment in time that is requiring us each as individuals and collectively to look in the mirror and ask a question.That question being who are we? And I think most of us know that part of the answer to that question is we are better than this."

Former Vice President Joe Biden said, "Just look at this stage, made up of diverse people from diverse backgrounds, went on to be mayors, senators, governors, congresswomen, members of the cabinet and yes, even a vice president. Mr. President, this is America. And we are stronger and great because of this diversity, Mr. President, not in spite of it, Mr. President. So Mr. President, let's get something straight. We love it. We are not leaving it. We are here to stay and we're certainly not going to leave it to you."

8:23 p.m.: Cory Booker's opening statement interrupted by protesters

In the middle of his opening statement, Sen. Cory Booker had to briefly pause, amid interrupting protesters, chanting.

Booker said, "We have serious problems in America. We have deep wounds and seriously deeply rooted challenges. We desperately need to heal as a nation and move forward because we know in this country our fates are united, that we have a common destiny. The call of this election is the call to unite and common cause and common purpose."

8:18 p.m. The middle-tier candidates make their appeal to voters

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Beating Donald Trump definitely not impossible. We need a nominee who will take on the big fights and win. We need a nominee who doesn't know the meaning of impossible."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, "I know what patriotism is and I've known many great patriots throughout my life and let me tell you this, Donald Trump is not behaving like a patriot. As president I will bring this spirit of real patriotism to the White House, serving the interest of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful."

Julian Castro said, "I don't want to make America anything again. I don't want us to go backward. We're not going back to the past. We're not going back where we came from. We're going to move forward. We're going to make America better than its ever been in the years to come. Let's do that together."

Andrew Yang said, "We need to do the opposite of much of what we're doing right now and the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math."

8:13 p.m. Candidates make their pitch to voters with their opening statements

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "To the working people of America, tonight I bring you a message of hope. We can make change in this country."

Michael Bennet said, "Mr. President, kids belong in classrooms, not cages. And they deserve something better than a bully in the White House. Let's end this three-ring circus in Washington and let's make this election about reclaiming our future for our kids and our democracy. Empty promises won't beat Donald Trump, I can."

Jay Inslee said, " I am running for president because the people in this room and the Democrats watching tonight are the last best hope for humanity on this planet. If, if we make defeating the climate crisis the top priority of the United States, we will have a fighting chance to save ourselves and our children's future."

8:10 p.m.: Joe Biden tells Kamala Harris: 'Go easy on me, kid'

As Sen. Kamala Harris walked out on stage, greeted by former Vice President Joe Biden, he quietly said to her "go easy on me, kid."

Cory Booker speaks on stage at 2019 Essence Festival at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2019, in New Orleans.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images, FILE

The moment was picked up by his mic and comes after a contentious moment at the first debate between the two, which was followed by a month of back-and-forth sparring over Biden's record and Harris' history as a young prosecutor.

8:05 p.m.: Bill de Blasio to unveil a wealth tax during the debate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is poised to introduce a wealth tax at Wednesday's debate, which he says would bring in $3 trillion over 10 years.

De Blasio would begin with a 1% wealth tax on people who have $10 million or more, 2% on those with over $25 million and 3% for those with over $100 million.

De Blasio's plan also adds a "Turncoat Tax" that would financially punish Americans who try to avoid paying taxes by moving their assets to tax shelters overseas. Warren, too, would impose an "exit tax" on wealthy people who try to stash their assets outside the U.S.

CBS first reported

-ABC News' Chris Donato reports from Detroit, Michigan

8: 04 p.m.: The candidates take the stage

The candidates take the stage in the highly anticipated second night of the debates.

8 p.m.: Debate is getting underway

The second night of the second Democratic debates is now underway.

7:57 p.m.: What to watch for at Wednesday's debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden is expecting attacks from all sides, but he said he won't be "so polite this time."

Sen. Kamala Harris said of her debate strategy, "My mother raised me to be polite, and I intend to be polite. I will express differences and articulate them, and certainly point out where we have differences of opinion."

Earlier in the week, Sen. Cory Booker's team said his approach will be "to be himself."

One lower-polling candidate, de Blasio, is "ready to perform" after a "very good first debate performance," his campaign team said.

For most of the candidates on stage, the stakes for this two-night showdown are much higher after the Democratic National Committee announced more stringent qualifying rules for the September and October debates, meaning this could be their last chance before a national audience.

7:50 p.m.: The next ten candidates are about to take the stage

With 10 minutes to go before the candidates trickle out on stage, here is the lineup for tonight's debate (in order of podium positions from left to right):

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Andrew Yang
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • 7:45 p.m.: ABC News' partner FiveThirtyEight is live blogging the second debate

    The FiveThirtyEight team is offering real-time analysis, charts, thoughts, questions, ideas, idle fancies and more here.

    They will be tracking everything on stage Wednesday, from the issues candidates talk about to how the media covers the debate.

    Follow along.

    7:39 p.m.: Joe Biden shares a photo with his family minutes before taking the stage

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, prior to taking the stage, tweeted out a photo of with his family, writing, "I'm getting ready to take the stage in Detroit! Grateful to have my family by my side."

    7:37 p.m.: DNC Chair Tom Perez warms up the debate crowd

    During the CNN debate pre-show, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez took the stage in the Fox Theatre, to energize the audience, rhetorically asking, "Anyone hear a discussion about hand size last night?"

    "By the way, this was the arena. This was the facility four years ago where they talked about hand size," he continued, before adding, "Instead we talked about the serious stuff...the issues that matter to working families. And we're going to have another spirited discussion tonight."

    He also took aim at President Trump, calling the administration a "dumpster fire" to applause.

    7:28 p.m. Marianne Williamson said she has foreign policy experience because "my parents were world travelers."

    7:22 p.m.: Inside Michigan's critical swing county

    On the sidelines of the debate, earlier Wednesday, ABC News Live went on a journey along Route 53 in one of the most critical swing areas in the entire country: Macomb County, Michigan.

    The thousands of voters there helped deliver a win for President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. How are these voters feeling nearly three years later? Has the president lived up to his promises? Hear from a mayor who voted for President Trump in 2016, but does not plan to do so again in 2020. He’ll give us the pulse of the independent voters in his city who he says have "motor oil flowing from their veins."

    This all comes just one day before a massive GM assembly plant in Macomb County closes for good.

    -ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Jon Schlosberg report from Michigan

    7:20 p.m. Behind-the-scenes with Sen. Kamala Harris before the debate

    Sen. Harris gears up to hit the stage for night two of the CNN Democratic 2020 presidential debates.

    6:11 p.m.: Eyeing the general election, the Trump campaign announces its Ohio teams

    Only a few hours before the next 10 Democratic candidates take the stage for the debate, the Trump campaign and the RNC have announced its Ohio teams ahead of Thursday's "Keep America Great" rally in Ohio.

    Signaling the campaign's focus on the general election, the announcement appears to be part of a larger strategy -- with the campaign announcing state teams every leading up to a rally in the state. Two weeks ago, the campaign and the RNC made a similar announcement ahead of the president's rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

    As previously announced, Clayton Henson, the party’s coalitions director in Ohio in 2016 will work as the state director. Bob Paduchik, who previously served as the co-chairman of the RNC will serve as a senior advisor.

    Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Jim Jordan, and Governor Mike DeWine are among the honorary state chairs. Missing from that list -- former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has sent mixed signals on a potential 2020 run.

    -ABC News' Rachel Scott reports while en route to Cincinnati, Ohio

    5:56 p.m.: Kirsten Gillibrand says her gameplan is to 'win'

    ABC News' Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks ran into New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the lobby of a hotel in Detroit, and asked the presidential contender what her strategy is Wednesday night.

    The senator responded with one word: "win."

    5:26 p.m.: Cory Booker's campaign spokesperson says he 'won't hold back'

    New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's national press secretary, Sabrina Singh, outlined the senator's strategy for tonight's debate, amid speculation that he'll be seeking a California Sen. Kamala Harris-esque breakout moment by attacking former Vice President Joe Biden, particularly over the issue of criminal justice reform, on which they've publicly sparred during the past week.

    Though she wouldn't make any specific guarantees and said that the senator is not a fan of entirely pre-rehearsed lines, she did say that "when there are those moments that he needs to speak the truth on something, he's not going to hold back."

    As for the idea that Booker, who's known for his positive and forward-looking outlook and for campaigning on a message of unity and love, could turn negative at some point tonight, Singh compared any such talk to "tough love," and said it would mean that the senator felt it was truly necessary,

    "It does really hit home to him," she said. "And you know, as Cory says, like, these are these folks on the stage are like his family and his friends. But you know, you got to give your family and friends tough love every now and then. And he's not going to hold back on speaking the truth."

    Singh further shared Booker's feelings about last night's stand-off between some of the race's progressives and moderates, and instead of feeling like the rift was tearing the party apart, said that the senator thinks the disagreements were good to showcase.

    Graphic shows Democratic presidential candidates chosen to participate in second debate's second night.

    "At the end of the day, we should have these conversations. But all of us whoever the Democratic nominee is, have to unite behind that person. We cannot repeat what we have what happened in 2016, we need to have a strong party going into the general."

    -ABC News' Adam Kelsey reports from Detroit, Michigan

    5:20 p.m.: Debate night 2: fast facts

    There will be over 166 years of political experience on the debate stage tonight.

    1 Vice President: Former Vice President Joe Biden

    4 United States Senators: Sens. Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris

    1 United States Representative: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

    1 Governor: Gov. Jay Inslee

    2 Mayors: Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

    1 entrepreneur: Andrew Yang

    Debate stage podium positions (left-right): Bennet, Gillibrand, Castro, Booker, Biden, Harris, Yang, Gabbard, Inslee, de Blasio

    Oldest candidate – Biden (76 years old)

    Youngest candidate – Gabbard (38 years old)

    Most political experience – Biden (46 years)

    Least political experience – Yang

    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris makes a campaign visit to the Narrow Way Cafe and Shop in Detroit, Michigan, July 29, 2019.
    Brian Snyder/Reuters

    4:49 p.m.: Biden's campaign team lays out their debate view

    Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign team says he won’t take any attack’s on his record laying down and plans to articulate a strong case for why President Donald Trump’s leadership has been a failure for working-class people and on the world stage. While his advisors said Biden won't go after his rivals personally, they signaled he is ready for attacks from Booker and Gillibrand if those candidates follow through on the strategies they hinted at prior to the debate to attack Biden on his role in the 1994 crime bill and on women’s issues.

    Biden's focus will be on drawing policy differences, according to his campaign advisors. They also hammered home their belief that the attacks on Biden in the last debate were personal from someone he had a personal relationship with, but said they didn’t plan to engage in those attacks because it's not who the vice president is or his way of conduct.

    As far as preparation is concerned, advisors say Biden took prep very seriously, and "prepped intensely" for his second debate, but wouldn’t disclose how many mock debates they held in those prep sessions.

    -ABC News' Chris Donato, Mary Bruce, and Sarah Kolinovsky report from Detroit, Michigan and Molly Nagle from Washington, D.C.

    2:15 p.m.: Andrew Yang arrives at Fox Theatre, shares message to 'Yang Gang'

    Andrew Yang did not wear a tie during the MSNBC debates, which created much noise on social media.

    This afternoon Yang arrived for his CNN walkthrough wearing a tie killing social media’s anticipation. He shared a message of appreciation for his base on Twitter: "Where are at the Fox theater doing the walk through on CNN. I did wear a tie just for the walk through."

    -ABC News' Kelsey Walsh reports from New York City

    4 a.m: What to expect from the second night of debate

    Airing on CNN at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday night's debate is expected to be more contentious than Tuesday's, picking up where the first debates in Miami left off: When Biden was relegated to playing defense after a game-changing moment for Harris and other lesser-known candidates saw spikes in fundraising and polling following much-needed breakout performances.

    For the last few weeks, campaign aides and surrogates have been sparring over policy in back-and-forth statements, cable TV appearances, and on social media, but now the candidates will have the chance to speak for themselves on their differences and present their visions for the country.

    The second ten candidates who are set to square off on Wednesday are:

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Andrew Yang
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • But beyond the two sets of polling front-runners potentially squaring off each night -- Sanders, I-Vt., and Warren, D-Mass., sharing center stage on night one, and Biden and Harris on night two -- a parade of moderates will have the opportunity to take on the progressive stalwarts. Some occupying the lower fundraising tiers will have the chance to directly confront Biden, even as he prepares for attacks from all sides.

    "As the clear front-runner, the attacks will once again be directed Joe Biden's way," a senior Biden campaign official told ABC News.

    A day prior to the first night of debate, a new Quinnipiac University poll, released Monday, put Biden comfortably back on top of the Democratic field, with 34% support and significant distance between him and the next polling tier of Warren (15%), Harris (12%) and Sanders (11%).

    While Biden expects attacks from all sides, he said last week at a fundraiser in Michigan that if his 2020 rivals talk about his past, he'll return the favor and won't be "so polite this time."

    "As the clear front-runner, the attacks will once again be directed Joe Biden's way. And our opponents are already telegraphing how they plan to attack him: Bill de Blasio on trade and workers' rights, Cory Booker on crime bill, Kamala Harris running the same play once again on busing, Gillibrand on women's rights, Castro on immigration. We're expecting it, but we're also expecting the unexpected," a senior Biden campaign official told ABC News.

    Earlier on Monday, Harris said of her debate strategy, "My mother raised me to be polite, and I intend to be polite. I will express differences and articulate them, and certainly point out where we have differences of opinion."

    The debate stage at the Fox Theater in Detroit, Mich., July 30, 2019, ahead of the 2nd Democratic Presidential Debate.
    Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

    Two days before Booker is set to take the stage, his campaign team is already eyeing the road ahead.

    Campaign officials outlined Booker's pathway to victory in the general election, announcing they will be rolling out trips to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan over the coming days with the hopes to mobilize black voters who may have "stayed home, were discouraged or suppressed" from voting in 2016.

    "With more young people and people of color getting inspired as part of the resistance to Trump and the desire for a change in politics as usual, Sen. Booker is uniquely positioned based on his backgrounds and strengths as a candidate to connect with those voters and energize them back into the democratic fold," said his chief innovation officer Emily Norman.

    But his campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, detailed his debate strategy during the Monday call, saying, "I think Cory's approach to the debate is to be himself. And, you know, that means present his vision for the country, how he's going to be Donald Trump, and begin the process of fixing and healing, the pain that Donald Trump has caused."

    "‘Be yourself' is our best advice to him. And when he does that people like him and end up voting for him," he added.

    One lower-polling candidate, de Blasio, is "ready to perform" after a "very good first debate performance," his campaign team said.

    "There are legitimate contrasts between the candidates and their positions in this battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and the mayor is fully prepared to discuss these as well as his long list of accomplishments in New York City," said Jaclyn Rothenberg, his national press secretary. "The most controversial issue in debate prep so far has been how the Mets got Marcus Stroman and why. With the help of his team, he's prepared and ready to take the stage on Wednesday to deliver his message of putting working people first."

    Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    For most of the candidates on stage, the stakes for this two-night showdown are much higher after the Democratic National Committee announced more stringent qualifying rules for the September and October debates: candidates will need 2% in four qualifying polls and cross the 130,000 donor mark to qualify.

    Only seven candidates have qualified for the September debate, according to an ABC News analysis, including Biden, Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Harris, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The rest of the field has only a month to go before the deadline.

    These debates in Michigan, the site of the heart of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's loss in the Midwest after then-candidate Trump carried the state by 0.3 percentage points, also come a week after former special counsel Robert Mueller's nearly seven-hour testimony on Capitol Hill, when he raised the specter of Russian meddling in the 2020 election, after testifying that 2016 "wasn't a single attempt … they expect to do it during the next campaign."

    In a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 54% of Americans said that they are not confident in the capability of the U.S. to effectively defend itself from potential foreign government interference in the 2020 presidential election. Only 17% said they were very confident and 27% were somewhat confident.

    But with concerns of foreign interference looming over the field, squabbles continue over the direction of the party. On Monday, the candidates engaged in an early preview of a debate over healthcare, after Harris released her "Medicare for All" plan, an offshoot of the Sanders' bill he introduced and she co-signed, which includes a loophole to allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans during a 10-year period.

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