The Democratic presidential debate takes place 7-10 p.m. Thursday at Houston's Texas Southern University. It will air live on ABC and Univision, with a Spanish translation. Here are three things to watch for.
Language warning: CNN reported Tuesday that it had obtained an email in which officials from the Democratic National Committee and ABC News, the host network for the debate, warned candidates not to swear during the debate and that if they do, there will be no delay enabling the network to bleep the obscene language. That may not be a concern for Beto O'Rourke, whose regular detonation of the f-bomb, including uncensored on CNN's "State of the Union" in the aftermath of recent mass shootings, obviously prompted the warning. O'Rourke has defended and repeated his use of the f-word as the kind of compelling straight talk the crises of gun violence requires, and there is no reason to believe that the warning will dissuade him from making the same point before his biggest audience yet.
What's Andrew Yang got up his sleeve? There are no end to the surprises the tech entrepreneur has brought to the Democratic debates. The only one of the candidates on tonight's debate stage who has never run for office before, his campaign is built on his plan to give every adult American $1,000 a month. He showed up to the first debate not wearing a tie. That he managed to clear the polling and fundraising requirements more easily than, for example, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, to earn a place on the Houston stage may be surprising to some. But now, Yang's campaign is promising that he is going to do something "big" and "unprecedented" at tonight's debate, with Yang tweeting Wednesday: "Two words for the debate stage tomorrow night. Gold chain." Presumably that will not be the actual surprise, and there is, of course, a danger in raising expectations and not meeting them, but that's a risk Yang, who has gotten this far trusting his instincts, may be willing to take.
Two words for the debate stage tomorrow night: Gold chain.— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang)September 11, 2019
Biden fatigue: Former Vice President Joe Biden will be center stage at the Houston debate — ALL THREE HOURS. That is a long night, especially if all America, or at any rate the national media and debate audience, are looking for any sign of wear and tear that might suggest that Biden, who is 76, is up to the task ahead of him. Compounding Biden's burden is that, more than any of the other candidates on the stage, all nine of his rivals have a self-interest in wearing him out.