Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke faced off against the two front-runners from the progressive wing of the party — U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — on Tuesday during the first of two Democratic debates in Detroit, a do-over for the Texan following his lackluster debate performance last month.
Here were updates from our political team in Austin as they happened:
The second round of debates, hosted by CNN and moderated by the network’s Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, kick off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Political strategists do not expect Warren and Sanders — who have touted similar agendas like extending Medicare coverage to every American and making public college free — to take swings at each other, but the two leading candidates most likely will face sharp criticism from others onstage. Meanwhile, O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso, is expected to go after Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and paint himself as the more empathetic of the two candidates. The two are competing for many of the same voters.
READ: Five things to watch in Tuesday's Democratic debate
O’Rourke was not happy with his performance during the first round of debates in June, telling journalist Jemele Hill of The Atlantic on her podcast, "Unbothered," that he had “tunnel vision” and needed to “see the larger picture.” The candidate, who brought in lower-than-expected fundraising totals in April, May and June and who has been struggling to regain momentum in recent weeks, has been focused on conveying “strength and confidence” in the Detroit debate, according to a campaign aide.
The Tuesday debate also will include U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, author Marianne Williamson, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana.
Second debate night
Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary under President Barack Obama, will take the stage on Wednesday, squaring off against former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, two leading candidates.
The second round of debates will offer lesser-known candidates a last chance to woo Democrats before the Democratic National Committee raises the threshold to qualify for the third and fourth debate rounds in the fall. So far, only Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have qualified for the September debate, which will be held in Houston.
Castro has met the 130,000-donor threshold for the debate but not the polling threshold, which requires candidates to receive at least 2% of the vote in four qualifying polls.