Former Vice President Joe Biden will be flanked by progressive heavyweights Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the next Democratic debate Thursday in Houston, marking the first time the sharp ideological divide among the top Democratic contenders will be on full display.
The race comes as Biden retains a double-digit lead in most national polls over the rest of the Democratic field, making him the presumptive front-runner, while Warren and Sanders are vying to emerge as the former vice president’s top rival in 2020.
Biden’s lead allows him to play a more defensive game, and he will need to avoid any gaffes after uneven debate performances so far, strategists said. However, he can’t coast by: some see Biden’s lead as shaky and believe he’s out of touch with a party that is skewing left and hungry for new ideas, while concerns linger about his health and his age.