NBC News, MSNBC, Telemundo to host first Democratic presidential debate

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston, South Carolina
Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders participate in a Democratic candidates' debate hosted by NBC News and YouTube on Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, South Carolina. Copyright Andrew Burton Getty Images file
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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The debate will also stream online free on NBC News' digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com and apps.


NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first 2020 presidential primary debate in June, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday.

The debate could be held over two consecutive nights in prime time, given the anticipated size of the field, the DNC said.

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will broadcast the debate simultaneously on back-to-back weeknights in June, should multiple debate stages be necessary. 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. Exact dates and the debate's location are yet to be announced.

The commission's chairman, Tom Perez, said in a statement Thursday that he is "committed to running an open and transparent primary process," which includes updating the threshold for candidates to qualify for a spot on the debate stage that places a premium on grassroots support.

According to the DNC, the lineups for each debate will be chosen at random, not strictly from how candidates are ranked in polls. To qualify, a candidate will need to either have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least $65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

If more than 20 candidates reach one of those two qualifications, the top 20 will be selected by using a separate method that rewards contenders for meeting both thresholds, followed by highest polling averages, and then the most unique donors.

There will be 12 debates in total over the 2020 Democratic primary season — the June debate is the first of six scheduled this year, with six more scheduled for 2020. CNN will host the second debate in July.

The expanded debate platform comes after the party was criticized in previous presidential primary cycles for having too few debates. A number of prominent Democrats, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar, have already announced their campaigns, with others like former Vice President Joe Biden and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders contemplating getting into the race as well.

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