Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have been circling for months — like battleships just out of range.
We now know that will change in the second week of September, when the Democratic front-runner and the rival who is stirring the loudest buzz on the campaign trail meet onstage, at last, in the next Democratic debate.
For the first time, Democratic voters will see side by side two candidates who perhaps best personify many of the ideological, gender, thematic and stylistic contrasts in their nominating race.
Debate host ABC News is expected to confirm Thursday that only 10 candidates made the cut after a qualifying period that set fundraising tests and minimum polling thresholds, resulting in a single debate night for the first time in the nominating process.
In the previous two rounds of double-header debates on consecutive nights, Biden and Warren were drawn apart, leaving the most intriguing emerging dynamic in the race unaddressed.
Former Vice President Biden, 76, is the epitome of the Democratic establishment, a moderate, portraying his pragmatism and appeals to America’s “better angels” as the key to wooing President Donald Trump’s voters and beating a vulnerable incumbent in 2020.
Warren, 70, a crusading reformer of the financial system, is in the same generation as Biden, who first ran for president in the 1980s, but campaigns with the relentless energy of a fresher figure on the national stage.
Biden is the quintessential old-school, sentimental back-slapping politician, a former Senate bull with a trove of stories from Washington’s corridors of power who is pledging to restore the civility of a pre-Trump era.
Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, wants to shoulder hopes of shattering the highest glass ceiling in politics from Hillary Clinton, has a plan for every problem and is driving the liberal tide sweeping her party.