Trump Weighs In: Live Updates From the Third Democratic Debate

The third Democratic presidential debate takes place Thursday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. E.T. Here is the latest.

Trump weighs in – 5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is weighing in on the Democratic primary field hours before his would-be opponents face off on the debate stage in Houston.

Trump said Thursday that he thinks he’ll face former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders next year. He says, “It’s going to be one of those three.”

Trump says he’s going to catch up on the Democratic debate once he returns from Baltimore, where he is traveling to address congressional Republicans on Thursday evening.

He says, “It’s going to be very interesting. I’m going to have to watch it as a rerun.”

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4:30 p.m. – Harris seeks to find her lane

Kamala Harris will seek to affirmatively define her lane in the Democratic presidential primary at the Thursday debate in Houston, an adviser said hours before it began.

The adviser, who discussed strategy on condition of anonymity, said Harris plans to set herself apart from her main rivals by suggesting she’s a unifier but one who doesn’t long for the past or engage in divisive ideological battles.

The preview is a tacit acknowledgment of one of Harris’s struggles. After a strong first debate late June, the California Democrat has had a rough summer and fallen to a distant fourth place in the polls amid questions about what her political philosophy is. She has sought to court ultra-progressive voters as well as moderates in the primary.

12:18 p.m. – Warren asks Amazon to drop contractors

Elizabeth Warren is calling out Amazon.com Inc. for “ignoring labor laws and fostering work conditions that are detrimental to the safety and basic humanity of its workers.”
The presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator on Thursday demanded that Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos drop contractors that violate labor laws and enforce safety standards to protect delivery drivers and the general public.

“Amazon’s pursuit of larger profit margins, increasingly unsustainable delivery expectations, and methods to avoid regulatory and legal oversight are alarming,” Warren said in a letter co-signed by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Sherrod Brown. The letter cited news reports, including a joint investigation by ProPublica and New York Times, that said Amazon contractors were involved in more than 60 accidents since June 2015, causing multiple deaths.

Warren asked Bezos to respond with details on Amazon’s policy on third-party drivers as well as whether the e-commerce giant has tried to thwart creation of a union. Warren last year, along with Bernie Sanders, criticized Bezos after reports of anti-union efforts at the company’s Whole Foods chain.

“Amazon is proud of our strong safety and labor compliance record across our transportation network of employees and contractors, and we continue to drive improvements that benefit our transportation providers, our customers and the public,” Amazon said in a statement.

11:50 a.m. – Biden appears in digital ad

Just hours before Thursday night’s debate in Houston, former Vice President Joe Biden went up with a digital ad aimed at deflecting criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration.

Biden is shown saying in footage from a campaign event that Obama “was a president our children could and did look up to.” Biden says he was “proud to serve as his vice president, but never more proud than the day we passed health care.”

Other Obama administration accomplishments appear on-screen, including “protected dreamers” and “led on marriage equality.”

After a debate earlier this summer in Detroit, Biden said he was “a little surprised” at the flak he took from fellow Democrats about Obama’s legacy, pushing back against criticism of the Affordable Care Act and Obama-era immigration policy.

Some Democrats in early voting states like South Carolina, which holds the first primary vote in the South next year, have listed Biden’s proximity to Obama as among their top reasons for supporting him.

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8:36 a.m. – Top contenders will be on one stage

The top Democratic presidential contenders will finally be on one debate stage Thursday in Houston as Joe Biden tries to solidify his early lead over Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg will look to reclaim some lost momentum.

The ABC News debate has 10 candidates altogether and will air on a broadcast network with a post-Labor Day uptick in interest in the race. That could give candidates their largest audience yet as the campaigning heads into the fall.

It’s also the first time Warren and Biden will appear on the same stage.

But the campaigns say that doesn’t necessarily mean the three-hour debate will end up being a direct clash between the progressive Massachusetts senator and the more centrist former vice president.

8:13 a.m. – Trump Tries to Upstage Debate With Banner, Ads

Donald Trump is making sure he gets his say in Houston on Thursday.

The president’s re-election campaign plans to deploy an aerial banner and full page ads in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News ahead of the third Democratic primary debate at Texas Southern University.

The ads will contrast Democrats’ “disastrous plans for America with President Trump’s clear record of accomplishments,” according to a campaign release.

The newspaper ads take on some of the Democrats’ positions on private health insurance, the fossil fuel industry, and regulation.

The 4,800 square feet air-banner will read: “SOCIALISM WILL KILL HOUSTON’S ECONOMY! VOTE TRUMP 2020.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

How to watch the third Democratic debate—even without cable

—What to know about the third Democratic debate: Time, date, lineup

—Houston hopes Thursday’s Democratic debate at historically black university drives conversation

—These are the most talked about candidates ahead of the third Democratic debate

Black women voters are key to the 2020 presidential race. Here’s who they support

—Will O’Rourke and Castro enjoy a home-field advantage at Thursday’s Democratic debate?

—4 things to watch for during tonight’s Democratic debate

Biden and Warren will debate tonight—here are the issues they have already clashed on

—Will the third Democratic debate give Kamala Harris renewed momentum?

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