NBC News on Friday announced the lineups of Democratic presidential candidates who are appearing on stage this month on each night of the first debate of the 2020 race.
The first group of 10 appearing on Wednesday, June 26:
- Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
- Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
- Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro
- Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
The second group of 10 appearing on Thursday, June 27:
- Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
- Sen. Kamala Harris of California
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
- Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
- Author Marianne Williamson
- Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
- Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado.
Where the candidates will stand on stage each night has not yet been determined.
To decide the matchups, candidates’ names were drawn manually at NBC News’ headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. One representative from each of the qualifying campaigns was invited to attend the draw along with officials from the Democratic National Committee. Campaign representatives saw the paper slip with their respective candidate’s name on it before it was folded and placed inside the box.
A representative from NBC News Standards & Practices conducted the draw.
Candidates were divided into two groups: those who polled on average at or above 2 percent through midnight on Wednesday, June 12, and those who polled on average below 2 percent through midnight on Wednesday.
A random draw then took place, to create two separate groupings of 10.
NBC News then designated each grouping to a specific debate night.
DNC chairman Tom Perez told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson on Friday before the draw that he wanted the committee to avoid grouping lesser-known candidates together on one night and high-profile candidates on the other.
“The purpose of that is to be consistent with our principle of trying to be fair to everybody but also, it gets to the point of your question, so that we have maximum eyeballs both nights,” Perez said.
The determination of the lineups came a day after the DNC announced the 20 candidates who met the threshold to appear on stage for the two-night event. The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.
After the matchups were announced, candidates who qualified for the debate celebrated on social media and elsewhere, with some hoping for the chance to differentiate themselves to voters.
Gillibrand, for instance, lagged in the polls and struggled up until recently to meet the debate’s individual donor threshold. She released a statement Friday touting her record as President Donald Trump’s “kryptonite.”
“President Trump’s kryptonite is a strong, independent woman who speaks her mind, takes on tough fights for families and women, and has a record of actually getting things done, and that’s exactly what they’ll see from me on the debate stage,” she said. “The debates are the first chance for voters across the country to tune in and compare the ideas of the contenders, and I’m honored to have the opportunity.”
She also told NBC News that the night she’s on “actually doesn’t matter to me, I really admire and enjoy all my colleagues.”
Delaney said in a tweet that he’s looking to spar with his fellow Democrats, particularly Warren, on issues and not “personality.”
“I am pleased to be sharing the debate stage with many strong candidates, particularly Senator Warren who, like me, is talking about new ideas,” he tweeted from his official Twitter account. “I look forward to a debate on issues and solutions, not personality and politics.”
Sanders’ campaign said the Vermont lawmaker is also eager to jump in the ring.
“This is a terrific lineup because there will be a real debate over the key set of choices in this Democratic primary,” said Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing other candidates outline their visions for the country and plans to fully guarantee all people the right to health care, housing, education, a clean environment, and the freedom of basic economic rights.”
The historically large field of candidates includes a slew of U.S. senators, a handful of mayors, a former vice president, longtime legislators and some political novices.
The DNC set two ways for candidates to qualify for the debate — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.
The debate will air live across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights. The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.
NBC News’ Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Telemundo’s José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate.
Jeremy Corbyn says Boris Johnson ‘hasn’t won support of our country’ and demands election
Doctors find differences in brains of U.S. diplomats who alleged mystery attacks in Cuba
WASHINGTON — A group of U.S. government workers potentially exposed to unexplained phenomena in Cuba have less white matter in their brains and less connectivity in the areas that control vision and hearing than similar healthy people, doctors have found.
The findings from University of Pennsylvania researchers are the most specific to date about the neurological condition of the U.S. diplomats, spies and their families who reported strange sounds and sensations while serving in Havana between 2016 and 2018.
Yet while doctors found “significant differences” in their brains compared to a control group, they couldn’t say whether they were caused by whatever may have happened in Cuba, nor whether those differences account for the Americans’ symptoms.
Watch Josh Lederman on Andrea Mitchell Reports today for more
The medical findings, revealed Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, come as U.S. national security officials tell NBC News that more than two years into the mystery, the government still has not determined who or what is responsible for what transpired in Havana.
The FBI, enlisted in 2017 to investigate what the U.S. has called “targeted attacks,” paid multiple trips to Havana but has exhausted its leads in the case, individuals briefed on the investigation say. While the investigation hasn’t been formally closed, no external energy source in Cuba has yet been identified that could have caused the injuries, they said. The FBI declined to comment.
Although the Trump administration has not retreated from its assertions that its workers in Cuba were attacked, officials at the FBI, the CIA and the State Department are also examining the possibility that mass psychogenic illness, or psychosomatic symptoms that spread through a community, may be to blame in at least some of the cases, officials said.
The Cuban Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment. But Dr. Mitchell Joseph Valdés-Sosa, the Cuban Neuroscience Center chief who has been investigating the U.S. claims, said there were major “causes for concern” in the study’s methodology, including the makeup of the control group and assertions about brain changes that he said could have resulted from “many factors, including psychological states.”
“The most worrisome aspect is the attempt to link these findings with an unspecified ‘directional phenomenon,'” Valdés-Sosa said. “The research in this area has been cloaked in secrecy, and driven by cold war paranoia.”
Twenty-six Americans who served in Cuba were “medically confirmed” by the State Department to have been affected. The Penn study included most of those workers, their relatives who lived with them and other U.S. workers referred to Penn for potential exposure, bringing the total to 40.
Using a battery of advanced MRIs, researchers created a detailed map of their brains, including the pathways and connections that let parts of the brain communicate with one another. It takes a computer more than 24 hours to process the data and create the maps, officials tell NBC News. The results from all individuals in the Cuba group were combined, then custom software was used to compare those results to a map made from MRIs of 48 individuals of similar age and ethnicity.
Doctors found that in measuring white matter — nerve fibers that form the brain’s communications network — the Cuba patients had a mean volume that was 27 cubic centimeters smaller than the control patients. Overall, they had similar volumes of grey matter — rich with brain cells that process information — but in some regions of the brain, the Cuba patients had more grey matter.
Advanced neuroimaging that tracks how water molecules travel through the brain found decreased connectivity in the networks related to seeing and hearing, which tracks with many of the symptoms reported, but not in the networks that handle higher-level thinking processes. Still, doctors were unable to draw a clear connection between the findings and the patients’ symptoms, which also included problems with balance, sleep and memory.
NBC News Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres said the small sample size and high sensitivity of the brain scans could have produced results that appear unusual but aren’t clinically significant.
“Even though, as a group, these government personnel have changes to parts of their brains seen on MRI images, those changes cannot be tied directly to what they report happened in Cuba,” Dr. Torres said.
Starting in late 2016, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers in Cuba started reporting strange incidents that the Penn study describes as “potential exposure to uncharacterized directional phenomena” of unknown origins, “manifesting as pressure, vibration or sound.” Some reported ear-piercing sounds in their homes at night that would suddenly disappear when they moved just a few feet away.
The mysterious noises initially led investigators to suspect a sonic weapon, but investigators ruled out the possibility sound waves could have caused the damage. Officials have explored other possibilities such as a microwave or other electromagnetic energy source, as well as potential environmental causes and psychosomatic illness.
Because of how much is still unknown about the brain’s inner workings, it’s difficult to say whether any of those theories could neatly explain the specific changes to brain matter volume and connectivity identified by the MRI study, medical experts said.
The bizarre saga has inflicted significant damage on a U.S.-Cuba relationship that was only beginning to warm in recent years following half a century of enmity.
After declaring that its diplomats had been attacked, the United States pulled most of its workers out of Cuba and warned all Americans not to travel there. Those ties have been further weakened by the Trump administration’s crackdown on Cuba and re-imposition of sanctions and travel restrictions that had been eased during the Obama administration.
In addition to Penn’s study, the National Institutes of Health is conducting its own “brain injury research study” involving the Cuba patients with help from Energy Department supercomputers and national laboratories capable of processing massive amounts of neurological data. The Defense Department has also been engaged to look into technologies that could have been used to harm the Americans, NBC News has reported.
The State Department said it was aware of the new study from Penn doctors and “welcomes the medical community’s discussion on this incredibly complex issue.”
“The department’s top priority remains the safety, security and well-being of its staff,” the State Department said in a statement.
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