- - Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The back-to-back Democratic presidential debates Wednesday and Thursday are exercises in competitive sound bites featuring 20 candidates hoping to oust President Trump in 2020. The hopefuls range widely in age, sex and backgrounds and include a former vice president, six women and a pair of mayors.

The challenge: Convey their plans for the nation, throw a few elbows and sharpen what’s been a blur of a race so far for many Americans.

WHO IS UP:

President Trump: The commander in chief enjoys being the center of attention. Oh boy, he most certainly will be as Democrats aim to slice off a bunch of red meat for the base. Mr. Trump should get in a few zingers of his own with his pledge to live-tweet the debates.

Elizabeth Warren: Her task is to harness her campaign’s momentum to convince voters that she has what it takes to defeat Trump. As the sole top-tier candidate on stage Wednesday, she could have the most to lose.



Julian Castro: The 44-year-old former mayor of San Antonio and Obama administration Cabinet member has already seen many of his policies — from education to immigration — mimicked by his rivals. And his speaking style will remind many Democrats of former President Obama.

 

WHO IS DOWN:

Pete Buttigieg: The 37-year-old is fresh of criticism Sunday from angry residents of South Bend, Indiana, at an emotional town hall meeting a week after a white police officer fatally shot a black man in the city where he is mayor.

Joseph R. Biden: Based on recently polling, the former vice president is the front-runner — which means he’ll hit the stage with the biggest bull’s-eye on his back. And he’s also trying to move past recent comments that he worked on legislation with segregationists while in the Senate.

Beto O’Rourke: Once ballyhooed as a 21st century version of JFK, the former Texas congressman who almost took out Ted Cruz in a 2018 Senate race, has seen his poll numbers plummet as he failed to quickly articulate policy platforms.    

—Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. 

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