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Primary Debates

Seventh Debate: CNN/Des Moines Register
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 in Des Moines, IA.

                                  Steyer | Warren | Biden | Sanders | Buttigieg  | Klobuchar

Screen Grab from CNN                      
           Pre-Debate Press ReleasesProcess More

9 pm ET / 8 pm CT at Drake University in Des Moines, IA.

Sponsor:  CNN in partnership with the Des Moines Register.

Candidates:  Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren.

Moderators:  CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and Des Moines Register chief politics reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel.


Broadcast:  LIVE on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International. It will stream live in its entirety, without requiring log–in to a cable provider, exclusively on CNN.com’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV. The debate will also livestream at DesMoinesRegister.com. The full debate will be available exclusively the day following the airing on demand via cable/satellite systems, on CNNgo (at CNN.com/go on your desktop, smartphone, and tablets, and via CNNgo OTT apps), and CNN mobile apps on iOS and Android.

Format:  No opening statements; opens with moderator questions for the candidates. 1:15 for responses to moderator questions and :45 for responses and rebuttals and :15 for clarifications. 1:00 closing statements for each candidate. 

Overview:  This debate came 20 days before the Iowa caucuses. Just six candidates qualified, all white, prompting considerable comment about the lack of diversity. A recent report that Bernie Sanders had told Elizabeth Warren in a private meeting in 2018 that a woman could not win led to a tense post-debate exchange between the two that drew a lot of coverage. 

Several analysts challenged CNN's questioning of Bernie Sanders. An article in The Intercept stated that CNN moderators "brought out the bat and swung it hard at Sen. Bernie Sanders." Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting decried "CNN’s blatant insertion of its own point of view into the presidential debate [that] doesn’t  reflect a mere personal dislike of Sanders, but rather a consistent ideological orientation."1


Viewership rebounded somewhat from the last two debates; this debate attracted 7.3 million viewers on CNN and four million live streams.

Post-Debate  |  Video  |  Transcript

Ryan Grim, Aida
ChávezAkela Lacy. "At the Iowa Debate, Bernie Sanders's Most Vociferous Opponent Was CNN."  The Intercept,, Jan. 14, 2020.

Jim Maureckas and Julie Hollar. "The Biggest Loser in the Iowa Debate? CNN's Reputation" Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Jan. 16, 2020.

See also
Brooks Jackson, Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley, Jessica McDonald, Saranac Hale Spencer, D'Angelo Gore and Angela Fichera. "FactChecking the January Democratic Debate."  FactCheck.org, Jan. 15, 2020.