Seven U.S. Democratic presidential candidates are debating again Thursday, offering themselves to U.S. voters as an alternative in next year’s election to President Donald Trump, now newly impeached but undaunted in his quest for a second term in the White House.
The one-time Democratic field of more than two dozen candidates has shrunk, as several candidates have dropped out of the chase for the party's nomination.
The seven appearing on the debate stage at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles are led by former Vice President Joe Biden, senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They all met the party’s minimum requirements for enough voter support in polls and substantial fundraising to make the debate stage.
Three others - Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang - join them. All of the previous debates had at least 10 candidates laying out their positions.
More Democratic candidates who did not qualify for the sixth debate continue to campaign, still hoping to make a connection with voters six weeks before he party's first nominating contests in the midwestern state of Iowa, and later in the northeastern state of New Hampshire.
One wild-card candidate is a late entrant in the Democratic race — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire publishing magnate and former New York mayor, who is spending his own money on an expensive television advertising campaign to increase his stature in vote-rich California, the largest U.S. state. Democrats will cast ballots there in an early March nominating election.
While support for various candidates still in the field has waxed and waned in national polls, there has been one constant - 77-year-old Biden continues to lead the pack, despite frequent verbal gaffes.
Source: VOA news