Ohio, the ultimate bellwether state, will host the top Democratic contenders for president at a debate on Oct. 15, the state’s Democratic Party said Saturday.
The exact location and the television network to carry the event haven’t been determined. If more than 10 candidates qualify, the event will be held on two nights, Oct. 15 and Oct. 16.
Ohio has the best track record of predicting the presidential winner of any state since 1896, including voting for the victor in each election since 1964. No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio. President Donald Trump handily beat Democrat Hillary Clinton there in 2016, 51.7% to 43.6%.
A Quinnipiac University poll released this week had Democratic front-runner Joe Biden beating Trump in Ohio, 50% to 42%. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were also leading Trump in the state, but more narrowly.
“Trump knows he’s in trouble here,” said David Pepper, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman. “Well, Democrats here and nationally know it too, and we’re thrilled to host the debate so Ohioans can hear from candidates who will keep their promises and fight for them.”
The criteria for inclusion in the October debate will be the same as September’s. That debate, on Sept. 12 in Houston, will feature 10 candidates on one night as the Democratic field is winnowed from about two dozen hopefuls.
But the Ohio debate could see additional candidates, because the deadline for qualification will be extended until Oct. 1 and will be the same as for the September event. That means any candidate who raises $130,000 and reaches 2% support in four qualifying polls will be included.
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