- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2019

The 2020 presidential race is no longer just a free-floating concept. It’s about to get real. The first Democratic presidential debate is less than a month off, scheduled for June 26 and 27 in Miami, hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

The hopefuls are polishing up their stage presence.

“The first debate sparks a Democratic scramble. Candidates still don’t know whom they will be debating against, or even which day they’ll be on the stage,” said a Politico analysis.

“At least half-dozen major candidates have begun to block out time or lighten their schedules to prepare. In telephone calls and conference rooms, advisers are peppering them with potential questions. The candidates are practicing tightening their answers, cognizant of the seven to 10 minutes of total speaking time they expect to be allotted,” the analysis said.

“They are watching clips of the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates to familiarize themselves with the dynamics of debating on a crowded stage,” Politico noted.

Meanwhile, debate No. 2 will be hosted by CNN for two days in Detroit in July. The Democratic Party revealed Wednesday that debate No.3 will be hosted by ABC and Univision on Sept. 12 and 13, in a location to be determined.

The Democrats have already barred Fox News from hosting any of its debates, and the canny network responded by airing well-received town halls with Democratic candidates in recent weeks — with Julian Castro the latest hopeful to sign up for a Fox News appearance.

There are 24 Democratic candidates in the running — and a total of 12 debates planned.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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