Organizers ask Democrats not to swear in debate after Beto O’Rourke dropped the F-bomb


Organizers for Thursday’s presidential debate in Houston have asked the candidates not to swear during the three-hour live television event.

Their requests come after Beto O’Rourke has repeatedly used the word ‘f***’ in his campaign appearances and Cory Booker told CNN the use of ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a shooting is ‘bulls***.’

O’Rourke, at the New Hampshire Democratic State Party convention on Saturday, was asked by an ABC reporter if he was planning to swear during the debate.

‘Maybe,’ he responded. 

Beto O'Rourke has dropped the f-bomb repeatedly in a series of campaign appearances

Beto O’Rourke has dropped the f-bomb repeatedly in a series of campaign appearances

And Cory Booker called the 'thoughts and prayers' response to mass shootings 'bulls***'

And Cory Booker called the ‘thoughts and prayers’ response to mass shootings ‘bulls***’

In an email to campaign staff from the Democratic National Committee and ABC News – the network hosting the debate – officials warned the candidates not to swear on stage and pointed out that the broadcast would not be running on a tape delay, according to CNN

Podium Order for Thursday Debate 

Amy Klobuchar

Cory Booker 

Pete Buttigieg

Bernie Sanders 

Joe Biden

Elizabeth Warren 

Kamala Harris  

Andrew Yang 

Beto O’Rourke 

Julian Castro  

Any use of foul language could violate the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency rules, officials warned.

‘We will not be broadcasting on any delay, so there will be no opportunity to edit out foul language,’ the note read. ‘Candidates should therefore avoid cursing or expletives in accordance with federal law and FCC guidelines.’

The first two debates were hosted by CNN and MSNBC – cable news networks not subject to the same FCC rules as ABC, a broadcast network. 

O’Rourke and Booker, both of whom are running near the middle or bottom of the pack when it comes to polling on the race, have upped their use of salty language.

Booker raged against the response to a spat of mass shootings during an interview with CNN in May. 

‘More people in my life kind of died in this nation due to gun violence and then all of the wars and revolution wars now. We are not going to give thoughts and prayers which to me is just bulls***. I’m sorry to say it as a man of faith, but I was taught that faith without works is dead,’ he said.

O’Rourke also upped his use of the f-bomb after 31 people died in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in early August.

He raced to his home town of El Paso in the aftermath and, in an exchange with reporters, showed impatience with some of the questions about President Trump’s role in inciting violence. 

‘Members of the press, what the f***,’ he responded.

He also said of the epidemic of mass shootings in America: ‘This is f***ed up.’ He is selling a t-shirt on his campaign website with that slogan – at $30 a pop.

Thursday’s debate will feature only 10 candidates and be one-night only. It will be a three-hour event, taking place from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. ET. Candidates will give opening statements but not closing statements. 

The event will put together top tier candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders all on stage together for the first time along with Pete Buttigieg, Booker, Amy Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Andrew Yang. 

Thursday’s debate marks the first time Warren and Biden will be on stage together, a move that puts the focus on those two as the senator from Massachusetts has been making headway in the polls.

The Democratic candidates are in route to Houston for the debate; Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar ended up on the same flight Tuesday

The Democratic candidates are in route to Houston for the debate; Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar ended up on the same flight Tuesday

Joe Biden

Elizabeth Warren

Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be on the debate stage together for the first time at Thursday’s debate in Houston

Beto O'Rourke is selling t-shirts with his thoughts on gun violence

Beto O’Rourke is selling t-shirts with his thoughts on gun violence

The contenders have dropped hints about their approach to the eagerly anticipated show-down.

Biden, who has a long political career of accomplishments to draw from, has been emphasizing his record to contrast the long list of plans and policy proposals offered by Warren, who often jokes ‘I have a plan for that.’

‘Plans are great, but executing on those plans is a very different thing,’ Biden said during a climate town hall meeting on CNN last week. 

Warren, meanwhile, has shown a reluctance to directly attack the competition, whether that be one of her Democratic rivals or President Donald Trump.

The senator, a former high school debating champion, kept the focus on her campaign when asked about debate preparations by reporters this weekend at the Democratic State Party convention in New Hampshire. 

‘Can we just start the fact these are not debates like those are debates?’ she said. 

‘I’m not here to criticize any other Democrat or anyone else’s campaign. I’m here to talk about what I’m running for president and what I see that we can do together,’ Warren noted. 

She held a campaign rally in Austin Monday evening where, again, she refused to address questions about her upcoming face-off with the former vice president.

‘I see this as a chance to talk about why I’m in the race and I assume that’s what all the other Democrats are going to do too,’ she said.


Thursday's debate will be one-night with 10 candidates compared to the last debate in Detroit (above), which was two nights with 20 candidates

Thursday’s debate will be one-night with 10 candidates compared to the last debate in Detroit (above), which was two nights with 20 candidates 

Biden stumbled in the first few debates and particularly struggled to answer in the first debate when Harris attacked him for his opposition to a federal busing program in the 1970s that she benefitted from.

While Warren is unlikely to engage in any kind of personal attack against him, the national audience will be tuning in at time when Biden’s propensity for gaffes is in the spotlight. 

Biden, 76, could also face questions about his health. 

Meanwhile, pressure is on the other contenders to perform and have a breakout moment like Harris did in the first debate.

The California senator’s campaign has backslide from the bump in the polls she received after she chastised Biden for his opposition to the busing program, noting it benefited one little girl ‘and that little girl was me.’

Harris downplayed any pressure for Thursday’s show down.

‘Everybody else and the pundits can ride polls. I’m not on that roller coaster,’ she told reporters at the New Hampshire state Democratic Party convention Saturday. ‘I am working hard. We are steady. I don’t get high with the polls, I don’t get low with the polls.’

The candidates were making their way to Houston ahead of the third debate.

Buttigieg posted a photo on Twitter of him and Klobuchar on the same flight, him seated behind her, with the caption: ‘Very funny @united.’ 

The fourth Democratic debate is likely to go back to a two-night event, like the first two debates were.

Candidates need to hit 2 per cent in four pre-determined polls to qualify along with having 130,000 unique donors. All the candidates in this week’s debate will make the October stage. 

Additionally, Tom Steyer got the final poll he needed over the weekend – not in time to make Houston’s stage but guaranteeing him a spot on October’s in Ohio. 

If no one from Thursday’s debate drops out before then that makes at least 11 candidates who qualify and the DNC is said to want to cap the stage at 10, making a second night necessary.

Also, Tulsi Gabbard is one poll away from qualifying and could conceivably make the October stage. Marianne Williamson is three polls short.  

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