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It’s debate week! (And 4 other stories to watch)

5. The cutting room floor: It’s debate week! At least for the 12 candidates who met the requirements to appear on stage. But for the seven who didn’t make it, this is a key moment. The November debate will have an even higher polling and fundraising threshold — so if this month’s metric was unachievable, where do they go next?

We’re looking at you, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak and Marianne Williamson…

On that note, keep an eye on the Q3 fundraising filing deadline on October 15. We’ve already seen numbers released by many campaigns, but Tuesday is the deadline for everyone to open their books to the public. Keep an eye out for support too soft to sustain a candidate through the end of the year. That’ll give you a hint on who’s going to drop out next.

4. Meanwhile, in Washington: Congress returns from a two-week recess this week. While impeachment still managed to take up Washington’s oxygen while members were in their home districts, their return to Capitol Hill could super-charge discussions.

Even over recess, we saw another Democrat holdout support the impeachment investigation — and polling shows a growing appetite for impeachment AND removal from office.

Already, four witnesses are scheduled to appear before Congress this week in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

3. 12’s a crowd: We’re about to experience the largest presidential primary debate field in history. And many of these candidates know they are in a crucial moment! As candidates enter the final fundraising quarter of 2019, look for candidates outside of the top tier to attempt to break out and prove it’s not just the Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders show.

Keep an eye on Beto O’Rourke — he’s used the debates to jump out ahead of his party on issues like mandatory gun buybacks. Warren, a seasoned debater, has flexed her familiarity with the debate stage — will she use her rhetorical talents to go after Biden directly?

Eight candidates have already qualified for the November debate. If Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro and Tulsi Gabbard can’t turn things around, this could be their last time on the national stage.

2. What’s up with Bernie? Bernie Sanders has a LOT riding on Tuesday night’s debate — in part because it’s the biggest thing he’s done since his heart attack two weeks ago.

Sanders sat out of last week’s LGBTQ town hall, but has conducted a media blitz to prove he’s ready to go “full blast” again with his campaign. On Sunday, Sanders participated in an Iowa town hall alongside other candidates … though he called in through a virtual conference call.

How will Sanders hold up on stage for three hours on Tuesday night, and how will he respond to lingering questions about his health? We’ll have to wait and see.

1. Biden vs. Trump: Joe Biden has spent the better part of the last month at the center of the news cycle after President Donald Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt on the former vice president and his son Hunter spiraled into an impeachment inquiry.

This is as big a moment as Biden can get. Up until now, he’s used the opportunity to defend his family and fire back at Trump. How will Biden capitalize on it under the debate stage’s lights?

Tune in on Tuesday night to watch Biden and 11 other Democrats in the fourth DNC-sanctioned debate, starting at 8 p.m. ET. CNN and The New York Times will host the debate from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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