Democratic Debates: It’s Biden-Harris 2 As CNN’s On-Air Drawing Sets Fields For This Month’s Double Feature

Erik Pedersen

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UPDATED with podium positions: Call it The Rematch. CNN picked the field for the July 30 and 31 Democratic debates tonight, and former Vice President Joe Biden will get another chance to square off against Sen. Kamala Harris of California, this time on Night 2 of Round 2. The duo, who famously clashed during the first debates last month, will stand side by side this time.

As for the two other leading candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will face off on Night 1.

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In an election cycle that features a remarkable amount of diversity among the candidate, it’s notable that the entire field of the July 30 first debate is made up of white candidates.

The 20 Dems will square off in the cycle’s second pair of 10-person debates in two weeks, and CNN’s unique on-air lottery of sorts determined who will be taking their talents where and when. Check out the results below, after an explanation of how the reality-style show went down.

Before the live drawing, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer explained the different rules this time around, which the news org and the Democratic National Committee agreed on.

“A lot of thought and care has gone into this process to make sure it’s transparent and fair,” he said. There were three draws, and candidates were assigned to one “based on their current level of support in qualifying polls. This is to ensure candidates of comparable polling are featured evenly across both nights,” Blitzer said.

The candidates in all three draws were divided randomly among the two nights — complete with post-draw analysis and commercials. Plenty of commercials.

Here was the field for the first draw: Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado; Steve Bullock, governor of Montana; Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York; John Delaney, former congressman from Maryland; Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman from Hawaii; Kirsten Gillibrand, senator from New York; John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado; Jay Inslee, governor of Washington; Tim Ryan, congressman from Ohio; and Marianne Williamson, author and activist.

The second draw featured Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey; Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, IN; Julián Castro, former HUD secretary; Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota; Beto O’Rourke, former congressman from Texas; and Andrew Yang, businessman and philanthropist.

The final was among Joe Biden, former vice president; Kamala Harris, senator from California; Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont; and Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts.

After the names for each draw were announced, Brianna Keilar handled the First Draw — with multiple camera angles and, of course, dramatic music. Victor Blackwell did the second draw, and Ana Cabrera did the third.

So, here are the final fields for the two CNN debates — in order of their appearance on the podium (left to right):

Night 1:
Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney and Steve Bullock.

Night 2:
Cory Booker, Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and Bill de Blasio.

Let the second-guessing and social media roasting begin.

The two CNN-hosted debates will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 and 31, in Detroit. The faceoffs will be crucial for all the candidates, especially those who are polling at the lower end of the field. But it’s also important for Biden, who had his lunch handed to him in an aggressive push by Harris during last month’s faceoff. President Obama’s former vp has admitted that he wasn’t prepared for her attack on his record regarding race.

Today’s cable news live lottery comes as Biden is in L.A. Thursday and Friday for multiple visits to the Hollywood ATM. Like his last cash grab swing out to Tinseltown, the ex-VP is hanging with studio chiefs and deep-pocket donors like Sony Pictures boss Tom Rothman. The Motion Picture Group Chairman and spouse Jessica Harper is hosting a Biden fundraiser tonight along with Toby Emmerich, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Amy Pascal, ex-HBO exec James Costos, who was Barrack Obama’s ambassador to Spain, and Peter Chernin.

The former Veep’s monetary efforts this week are just a few steps ahead of Kamala Harris’ forthcoming latest Hollywood fundraising on July 21.

That race for big bucks also follows a recent poll that put California’s junior Senator ahead of Biden among Golden State voters. Maybe the next debate could solidify or alter that result.

Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report

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