Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate

Several lower-polling Democratic primary candidates received no speaking time for nearly the entire first half-hour of Wednesday’s debate.

Billionaire activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout MORE, Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE were onstage but otherwise absent from the first questions directed at the candidates, including on the issue of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

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The first question directed at Gabbard came about 24 minutes into the debate and centered around her criticism of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE, the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2016. The question led to a fiery exchange with Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), who also received little speaking time from moderators.

Steyer’s speaking time began at just about the 29-minute mark and was devoted to questions about his self-funded candidacy and whether he represented the so-called special interests against which other Democratic candidates have railed.

Yang’s speaking time started 32 minutes in, and in his remarks he thanked Steyer for spending millions to benefit organizations fighting climate change. He also faced a question from moderators about why he would be qualified to respond to major issues facing presidents, such as potential terror attacks.

Steyer and Yang both sat at less than two minutes of total speaking time at 9:35 p.m., according to a tracker operated by The New York Times. Gabbard sat at two minutes and 30 seconds, more than some higher-polling candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, thanks to the length of her exchange with Harris.

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