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National Govt & Politics
LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate 
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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate 

LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate 

LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate 

After months of organizing and basic campaign work, Democrats running for President turned the page to a new and difficult chapter in the 2020 race for the White House, with the first of two nights of prime time debates sponsored by NBC News in Miami, starting the fight for the Democratic Party nomination in earnest.

The 2020 debates are getting underway about six weeks earlier than Republicans started in August of 2015 - back then, the GOP was struggling to deal with as many as 17 candidates.

Democrats now have so many - over twenty - that they were forced to hold two nights of debates to deal with the excess candidates.

Here's the run down of what we saw in Miami tonight:

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11:07 pm - There were winners and losers in terms of time.  I don't think I would have picked Jay Inslee as the one with least amount of time.

10:59 pm - The first Democratic Party debate of 2020 is over.  A second one - with ten other candidates will take place on Thursday night.  Elizabeth Warren finishes with a familiar riff from her stump speech.  As for the debate, the way it was moderated wasn't appreciated by Tulsi Gabbard's sister:

10:49 pm - Everyone will now get 45 seconds for a closing statement.  Last chance for the candidates to get out their preferred message.  Delaney is first.

10:45 pm - A rapid fire question for everyone on the biggest threats to America.

10:43 pm - Beto O'Rourke on President Trump: “We must begin impeachment now.”  Delaney: “This is not the number one issue” that voters ask about.

10:38 pm - Tulsi Gabbard had her best moment of the debate as she took aim at Tim Ryan over involvement in Afghanistan. 

10:30 pm - It's a choppy debate at times.  We learned four years ago in the GOP debates that when you have too many people on the stage, it doesn't really promote a good debate, no matter how good the moderators might be.

10:23 pm - Climate change comes up, with the first question for Gov. Inslee of Washington State - it's his central campaign theme.

10:21 pm - Yep. He's watching from Air Force One.

10:19 pm - And some of the lesser known Democrats who are in Thursday's debate are watching as well.

10:17 pm - On guns, it's an array of answers.

10:12 pm - Also watching the debate - candidates who didn't make the cut for the stage in Miami.  This is Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

10:08 pm - One thing Twitter allows us to see - in real time - is that members of the other party are watching the Democrats as well.

10:07 pm - The NBC broadcast is back, moving into a focus on gun violence, referencing the school shooting not far from here in Parkland, Florida.

10:05 pm - It's a long break seemingly.

10:01 pm - NBC had to unexpectedly take a break, because the microphones were still on of the first group of moderators - and they were being heard in the debate hall.  It wasn't as bad as the infamous Leslie Nielsen performance in the movie, “Naked Gun.”

9:54 pm - At the second break, there was a lot less of Warren in that second segment, and more of Castro.

9:50 pm - The debate switches to foreign policy, and the question of U.S. policy with Iran.  Amy Klobuchar says the President always seems to be just a few minutes away from war with the Iranian regime.   Tulsi Gabbard calls the President's advisers 'chicken hawks' when it comes to the threat of war with Iran.

9:45 pm - He's on Air Force One, flying to Japan for the G-20 Summit.  But he's watching.

9:41 pm - A reminder of where we are in Miami, as Jose Diaz-Balart of NBC asks Beto O'Rourke a question about immigration in Spanish, and O'Rourke responds in kind - Julian Castro then keeps talking over O'Rourke, as the two Texans go at each other.

9:35 pm - The subject turns to immigration, and the surge of illegal immigrants along the border.  Julian Castro says the U.S. needs a “Marshall Plan” for countries in Central America, to convince people not to come to the U.S.

9:33 pm - The first commercial break.  I don't have the stats, but it just feels like Elizabeth Warren has had the most air time so far.

9:23 pm - A discussion over Medicare For All prompts the first dust up among the candidates.  De Blasio jumps in and talks over O'Rourke, who talks back over the New York mayor.  Then Delaney says it's right to guarantee medical care, but wrong to take away private health insurance.

9:20 pm - One of the first one-liners comes from Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-MN.

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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate

9:17 pm - I can't imagine how stomach-churning a debate must be, even for very experienced candidates.  That's probably why you're seeing candidates steer clear of the actual questions being asked.

9:15 pm - For a number of the Democrats on this stage tonight, this is their best chance to introduce themselves to voters who have not really tuned in yet to the 2020 race.

9:06 pm - Beto O'Rourke is asked if he would support a 70 percent top income tax rate.  He doesn't really answer, and goes into an extended discussion about the economy in Spanish.  The moderators are clearly trying to pit the Democrats against each other by asking about other plans.  So far, it hasn't worked.

9:04 pm - Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-MN was basically invited to take a shot at the breadth of Warren's proposals, but instead, talks about her basic ideas of helping kids pay for college, and paying off student loans.

9:02 pm - Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-MA, the top candidate on stage tonight in this group, gets the first question - about the cost of her proposals to make major changes.  For Warren, it's a hanging curve ball, as she begins to rattle off her familiar message from her stump speech.  “It's doing great for giant oil companies,” Warren said, “but not for the rest of us.”

8:55 pm - And the candidates are all on stage.

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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate

8:40 pm - Two of the candidates on stage tonight - Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar - went south of Miami today to an immigrant holding facility in Homestead, Florida.  It's quickly becoming a pilgrimage of sorts for the Democratic candidates, as more are expected there in coming days.

8:30 pm - There are ten Democrats on the stage tonight.  You might know a lot of them.  You might know only one or two.

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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate

8:15 pm - Most of the press will watch it like everyone else, on TV.  The press filing center is not in the same building as the debate stage, as reporters are seated either at tables by the 'spin room,' or in seats surrounded by TV screens.

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LIVE UPDATES: Democrats hold first 2020 debate

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