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  • U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pose together before the start of the second night of the second U.S. 2020 presidential Democratic candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019.

    U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pose together before the start of the second night of the second U.S. 2020 presidential Democratic candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 September 2019

Warren and Biden have tangled before. She challenged him more than a decade ago when she was a law professor over his support for a bill to make it harder to declare bankruptcy for personal debts. Biden represented Delaware, home to several large credit card companies, in the U.S. Senate.

The two leading Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidency, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, are scheduled to square off in a debate in Houston Thursday for the first time since they announced their candidacy.

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The Democratic debate, which is the third this year, will spotlight the party’s ideological divisions, with moderate front-runner Biden at center stage flanked by progressives Warren and Bernie Sanders, both U.S. senators.

Seven other Democrats, including U.S. Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also will participate as all of the party’s highest-polling candidates square off for the first time.

Earlier debates in June and July were split over two nights to accommodate a crowded field of 20 contenders. But the party toughened the qualifying criteria to winnow the field and give a bigger spotlight to the top candidates.

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to advance,” Buttigieg told reporters in New Hampshire last weekend. “It’s still 10 at a time, but now we at least know looking at that stage that the nominee will emerge from that group.”

The first two rounds of debates have been contentious. Biden came under repeated attacks led by Harris and Booker for his record on race and criminal justice reform and his views on healthcare.

Warren and Sanders, old allies who have promised not to criticize each other, teamed up during the second round of debates in Detroit to defend their progressive agenda when attacked by more moderate candidates.

But this time, Warren could be a bigger target for criticism - and have more incentive to criticize Biden. A steady rise in opinion polls over the past two months has moved her ahead of Sanders into second place nationally in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Warren and Biden have tangled before. She challenged him more than a decade ago when she was a law professor over his support for a bill to make it harder to declare bankruptcy for personal debts. Biden represented Delaware, home to several large credit card companies, in the U.S. Senate.

Biden has held his front-runner status in opinion polls since he entered the Democratic nominating race in April, with Warren and Sanders battling for second behind him. None of the other contenders reaches double digits in most polls at this point.

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