WESTERVILLE, Ohio (Reuters) – Twelve top White House contenders will take part on Tuesday in the first Democratic debate since the launch of an impeachment inquiry into Republican President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate leading rival Joe Biden.
The fourth debate in the race to find a challenger to Trump in the November 2020 election will also match Biden and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for the first time since Warren surged into a virtual tie with the former vice president in many Democratic opinion polls.
The debate marks the return of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, 78, the oldest candidate in the field, who suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and has been recuperating at home in Vermont since having stents inserted to open a blocked artery.
The dozen candidates cramming the debate stage in the electoral battleground state of Ohio will make for the most crowded debate so far in the Democratic race.
The 10 candidates who took part in last month’s third debate in Texas all qualified for Tuesday’s event, along with U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist who is making his first debate appearance.
The packed stage and tangle of competing story lines could create a contentious atmosphere, and the Democratic-led congressional impeachment inquiry is likely to be a frequent theme.