The Note: Biden, Warren circle each other as debate looms

The Democratic race is being shaped by a big showdown that isn't quite happening

The TAKE with Rick Klein

They'll all be in one place in just over a week.

Until they get there, the Democratic race is being shaped by one big showdown that isn't quite happening -- and that neither candidate involved necessarily welcomes at the moment.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren know each other well. They also know the Democratic Party can most likely only avoid a clash between them and what they represent for so long.

Biden's team is sufficiently worried about perceptions and campaign aides are urging reporters to take note of the actual number of candidates who will be on the debate stage next Thursday in Houston.

"What's important is there are going to be 10 candidates on the debate stage -- not just two," a senior Biden campaign official said in an expectations-setting conference call with reporters.

As for Warren, there's little mystery as to who she was talking about in a Labor Day campaign stop in New Hampshire -- though she didn't name names.

"What's going to carry us as Democrats is not playing it safe," Warren said.

Warren's poll numbers and crowd sizes make for easy metrics to show a campaign on the rise. But for all Biden's vulnerabilities, there is still only one poll-topping frontrunner -- at least for now.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Walmart has not exactly been seen as a progressive company. It's owners are proud conservatives and it's often used as a stand-in villain by politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have said it exemplifies corporate greed.

Yet it was Walmart on Tuesday that announced its stores would limit the sales of guns and ammunition following two deadly shootings that occurred at its stores within a week of each other. As the largest retailer in the nation, any action by the company, moves the needle.

The company promised to consider policy changes of some kind after the domestic terror attack at its store in El Paso, Texas. Walmart's announcement suggested that societal perspectives on the issue of gun safety are changing quickly, despite the intransigence in Washington.

The House Judiciary Committee, controlled by Democrats, had planned to come back to Washington early on Wednesday to advance gun safety reform bills. One in their hopper would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and another, according to the committee, would "prevent those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing firearms."

Those hearings were delayed because of Hurricane Dorian, though it's pretty clear Democrats want to keep up the pressure.

As a company, Walmart has displayed evolution on this issue. For businesses that can be seen as an asset, whereas with politicians it is often considered a weakness. Maybe that's part of the reason the debate has stalled in Congress.

The TIP with Zohreen Shah

Before the 10 top-polling candidates take each other on at the Democratic debate in Houston, they'll be talking about the climate crisis in back-to-back town halls.

But one person will be noticeably absent: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who had made climate change a central pillar of his presidential campaign. Even though he won't be there, expect to see his ideas turn up through the course of seven hours. Warren, Biden and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have all said they discussed climate change directly with the former presidential candidate. Others have released extensive plans just this week, including Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris.

Every candidate who was invited will be attending the climate crisis town halls -- although that wasn't the case from the beginning.

According to CNN, Harris initially declined their invitation. But when ABC News pointed out her scheduling conflict was two major fundraising events in Los Angeles, activists from the Sunrise Movement created an uproar online. A day later, Harris told ABC News that she would attend the town hall.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who examines the impact of Walmart's gun policy changes. And, ABC News' James Longman joins us from London to recap all the drama in British Parliament Tuesday as the Brexit quagmire continues with no end in sight.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News contributor and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., joins ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein to talk about the Senate landscape and the coming Democratic debate, hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision.


  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., appears on ABC's "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the White House at 12:45 p.m. He then participates in the announcement of state opioid response grants at 2:15 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence travels from Shannon, Ireland, to Keflavik, Iceland, and the U.K.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., speaks at the Iowa Caucus Consortium's first Candidate Forum Series in Des Moines at 7:30 a.m. (CDT). He then speaks with East Des Moines Democrats at 6 p.m. and then meets with Downtown Des Moines Democrats at 7 p.m.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, tours Claflin University and South Carolina State University beginning at 10 a.m. He then campaigns in Columbia at 4 p.m.
  • Author Marianne Williamson visits the University of Nevada, Las Vegas beginning at 12:30 p.m. (PDT). She then speaks at the Las Vegas Enlightenment Center at 7 p.m.
  • Ten presidential candidates participate in CNN's Climate Forum in New York City beginning at 5 p.m. Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and businessman Andrew Yang attend the event.
  • Biden appears on CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" at 11:35 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

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