The first Democratic presidential primary debates will be moderated by news anchors Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, and José Díaz-Balart, along with MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, according to an NBC statement on Tuesday.

The only unusual choice among the moderators is Maddow, who is currently the second highest-rated television pundit following Fox’s Sean Hannity. While Maddow is a widely revered figure among liberals, it is unusual to include opinion journalists among debate moderators. Some question whether Maddow will be an impartial moderator, or whether she will do what she does best and include her own political opinions in her questions.


The debates, taking place on June 26 and 27 in Miami, are the first in a series of nationally televised debates between the many Democratic candidates. The next round of debates is set to take place at the end of July, while the third round will occur in mid-September. Due to the large number of candidates, each debate is set to occur over two days, with a different slate of candidates each night. The June debates will feature ten debaters each night.


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It is currently unknown who will be appearing on stage, and on which day each presidential hopeful will go. The participants will be determined by the Democratic National Convention (DNC), as each candidate must reach a threshold of 65,000 individual donors and 1% of the vote in a national poll in order to appear. To make it on stage for the second round of DNC debates, candidates must receive 130,000 individual donors and 2% of the vote. While 2% of the vote in a national poll seems like a trivial achievement for the potential president of the United States, many Democratic in the running are far from that threshold, ensuring that the large field of candidates will be narrowed down before voters even go to the ballots in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

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