Democratic presidential debate preparations underway at Gaillard Center in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute are co-hosting the 10th Democratic presidential primary debate.
The debate is on Tuesday at the Gaillard Center at 8 p.m.
Seven candidates will take part in the debate. They include former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire investor Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
CBS News Anchor Gayle King and Norah O’ Donnell are moderating the debate.
“I expect a really feisty exchange,” King said. “I’m just trying to figure out, Norah and I were talking about this...how do we manage it, how do you maintain control when everybody is trying to make a moment. I’m still trying to figure that out actually.”
CBS News Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Christopher Isham says they have been planning for this debate for about nine months.
“We did an initial visit. We had some logistical issue and timing issues,” Isham said. “There was a big event that was planned in this space right here for Saturday night, a big wedding and that created a huge logistical issue for us.”
That delayed their set up plans, however they were able to begin setting up the media filing and spin room around 4:30 a.m. after the wedding.
Isham says while there were challenges, they wanted to make the Gaillard Center spaced work for the event. The setup process took about a week.
"What sets this debate apart is that it is the last debate of the early state primaries here in South Carolina," Isham said. "South Carolina has always been a critical state in the early primaries. It is also the last debate that will be held with Democratic candidates before Super Tuesday, which will be next week, where almost 1,400 delegates will be chosen."
Isham says this debate might be one of the most consequential debates so far in the cycle.
On Monday, people who live in Charleston were taking pictures and checking out the set-up on the Gaillard Center lawn.
“It’s exciting," Charleston-area resident Mary Cyr, who works across the street from the Gaillard Center, said. “The infrastructure here doesn’t really do well with this kind of influx of people and vehicles and stuff. But hopefully it will only be bad for a day or so.”
Cyr says she likes that candidates are active in the area this week.
“There’s so many opportunities to actually see them, listen to what they have to say and what sorts of things they want to talk about in regards to their platform,” Cyr said. “It’s kind of exciting because they are so available when they are not normally.”
CBS officials says there is a team composed of moderators, producers, the executive producer, editorial staff, and the political unit who create the debate questions.
Isham says they go through many questions and want to make sure they are relevant to the primary and voters in South Carolina and beyond. They also work to come up with questions that resonate with people in the south.
The public can submit questions on Twitter by using the hastag #DemDebate. You can submit those questions until Tuesday at noon.
“Debates have consequences, and I think this debate will have consequences particularly since we still see that many voters in this state are undecided,” Isham said. “How the candidates perform tomorrow night will I think have an impact on how many people vote.”
The debate will air on CBS and will be streamed on the network’s app, the Live 5 News app and on BET.
Charleston Police announced road closures beginning Tuesday afternoon, hours before the debate’s start time.
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