The Democratic National Committee has split the large field of Democratic candidates into two groups for the first debate of the primary season, scheduled for later this month.
Group one, known as "purple group," includes former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), spiritual guru Marianne Williamson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), venture capitalist Andrew Yang, and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.
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The second group, or "orange group," consists of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), former Texas congressman Robert Francis ‘Beto' O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), former congressman John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), former Obama administration official Julian Castro, Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and Washington governor Jay Inslee.
NEWS – the Democratic debate groups
PURPLE: bernie, harris, biden, buttigieg, bennet, williamson, swalwell gillibrand, yang, hickenlooper
ORANGE: booker, warren, beto, klobuchar, delaney, tulsi, castro, ryan, de blasio, Inslee
NBC will now decide which night goes first
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) June 14, 2019
Orange group will debate on the first night, June 26, and purple group will debate on June 27.
Four of the top five candidates in recent polling are included in purple group, while Warren is alone among the top five in orange group.
The debates will offer candidates in the crowded field the opportunity to differentiate themselves and, for many, to gain traction. In the past week, Hickenlooper has stepped up his attacks on Sanders's support of democratic socialism, calling it "not just a poor electoral strategy," but also "a disastrous governing model."
Gillibrand narrowly qualified for the debate stage, telling supporters on Monday she crossed the 65,000-donor threshold.
Warren is the leading candidate among candidates on the stage in orange group. The next closest candidate, O'Rourke, is averaging only 3.5 percent support compared to almost 12 percent for Warren.
Montana governor Steve Bullock, Rep. Seth Moulton (D., Mass.), former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, and Miramar, Fla., mayor Wayne Messam did not qualify for the debate.