Pre-debate Biden ad deflects criticism of Obama

US senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the two main progressives in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020

HOUSTON-Only the top polling Democratic candidates are taking the stage on Thursday night for the third round of the primary debates in Houston. ABC News will broadcast the event in partnership with Univision.

In late August, a Monmouth University poll put progressives Warren and Sanders ahead with 20 per cent each and Biden tailing with 19 per cent. Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Vermont Sen.

ABC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden and Warren have been dueling each other in several recent polls, and since this will be their first time on stage together, the debate is likely to shed some light on how much of a progressive agenda the Democrats are going to run with in the 2020 presidential election.

Moderators include ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir, ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.

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Candidates will make opening statements, but there will be no closing remarks, the network says. Due to the vagaries of random drawings, they were assigned to different nights for both of the first two debates.

Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, slammed Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) in the pages of the Washington Post on Thursday for touting her commitment to grassroots fundraising after pocketing millions in donations from the wealthiest people in the country.

The Houston debate, to be televised by ABC News, is scheduled to last for up to three hours.

Streaming: The debate will stream on the ABC app and the ABC News Live channel, available on Facebook, Twitter, Roku, Hulu, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube, Apple News and the ABC News, "Good Morning America" and FiveThirtyEight websites and phone apps. Biden came under repeated attacks led by Harris and Booker for his record on race and criminal justice reform and his views on healthcare. Warren, while topping out the favorability charts, earned an "unsure" response from 15 percent of Democrats, suggesting that her candidacy has a continued margin for growth as her profile is raised during the campaign. This debate had a higher bar for qualifying than the previous two, which cut the field roughly in half. Biden, Sanders and Warren are 76, 78 and 70, respectively - hardly a contrast to the 73-year-old Trump.

If a candidate hasn't had a moment yet, they now have a chance to do something to gain attention and create a spark for their campaign before a large audience.

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