10th US Democratic debate: What you need to know

Seven of the eight candidates still in the race are expected to appear at the Charleston, South Carolina debate.

    Attendees listen as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]
    Attendees listen as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

    Democrats remaining in the race to challenge President Donald Trump in November will gather in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday night just days before voters in that state make their choice for the nomination known in a statewide primary election.

    Tuesday's showdown, the 10th one, will begin at 8pm local time (01:00 GMT on Wednesday) and will be hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. The event will air on the CBS television network as well as its streaming platforms and BET. Twitter is a debate partner, and voters can use the hashtag #DemDebate to submit questions that might be posed to the candidates.

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    Moderators include CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell and CBS This Morning cohost Gayle King, along with senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker.

    Seven of the eight candidates still in the race are expected to appear - former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. The eighth candidate, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, did not qualify under rules established by the Democratic National Committee.

    Sanders's strong showing and now-undisputed status as frontrunner mean he will likely find himself on the receiving end of many of his rivals' attacks. But if he is worried about such attacks, it was not showing at campaign rallies during the weekend. In a rally on the campus of the University of Houston in Texas, he sounded like a candidate who has already secured the nomination.

    "If working people and young people of this city, black and white and Latino, gay or straight, if our people stand together, come out to vote, we're going to win here in Texas," he said.

    Biden, seen until recently as the likely nominee, desperately needs to stop Sanders's momentum in order to keep his candidacy alive through Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states hold primaries and award one-third of the delegates needed for the nomination.

    Until recently, Biden held a commanding deal in polls in South Carolina - which is almost 30 percent African American - but his numbers tanked following poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. He now leads Sanders by less than four points in the state.

    Buttigieg, who has struggled among black voters, is not expected to do well in South Carolina but could benefit from holding himself up as the moderate alternative to the progressive Sanders, taking shots at the latter's more radical and politically unpalatable economic policies such as Medicare-for-All and student loan forgiveness.

     

    The participation of the Congressional Black Caucus in the event, along with South Carolina's high number of black voters, would suggest that racial issues will play a large role in the evening's discussion. Even though he is not on the February 29 ballot, Bloomberg is likely to face scrutiny yet again for a controversial stock-and-frisk policy when he was New York City mayor that critics called racist.

    For candidates still struggling in the single digits in national polls and with no wins in the early voting states, namely Klobuchar and Warren, the debate could easily be their last chance to appeal to voters on a national stage.

    Speaking to reporters in Denver over the weekend, Warren continued the attacks on rival Bloomberg that served her so well during the debate in Nevada last week, calling him the "riskiest candidate standing on that stage because of his history of hiding his taxes, his history of harassment of women and his history of defending racist policies."

    Steyer shied away from criticism of Bloomberg during campaign stops in South Carolina on Monday, opting instead to focus his attention on Sanders. He told more than 100 people gathered at a Monday breakfast gathering on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, that he loves the diversity of the Democratic Party but that unity is the only way to defeat Trump in November.

    He warned: "We can't nominate somebody who is going to divide us" and "who is not bringing all the Democrats."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies