The debate begins at 8:30 pm Eastern on Oct. 13. You can watch it on CNN or for free online at Below are short bios of the five Democratic candidates who've managed to poll at 1 percent (or more) in at least three national polls from August 1 to last Sunday, getting them in the door for the first CNN debate. Full story:
  1. Hillary Clinton
    Identity: the Frontrunner Biography: Former secretary of state. Former US senator. Former first lady. Former inevitable-seeming frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, before a relatively unknown senator challenged her from the left on key issues, generated tremendous enthusiasm among progressives and young people, and slowly but surely cleared a path to the nomination.
  2. Bernie Sanders
    Identity: the Populist Biography: Proud "democratic socialist" from Vermont. Served as mayor of Burlington, US congressman, and US senator as an independent. Joined the Democratic Party to challenge Clinton for 2016. Has done better than anyone expected.
  3. Martin O'Malley
    Identity: the Alternative Alternative Biography: Former city councilman and mayor of Baltimore (this is the rare case where your knowledge of The Wire actually does explain Baltimore: he's the model for Tommy Carcetti). Two-term governor of Maryland.
  4. Jim Webb
    Identity: the Reagan Democrat Biography: Former Virginia senator. Onetime assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan (he resigned from the latter in protest after the Pentagon cut the Navy's budget). Served with the Marines in Vietnam.
  5. Lincoln Chafee
    Identity: the Third Way Biography: Former Republican member of the US Senate. Former independent governor of Rhode Island. Current Democratic candidate for president.
  6. Left out of the CNN debate: Larry Lessig
    Identity: Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Debate Biography: Harvard professor turned campaign finance activist. In 2014, he tried to encourage politicians to take up campaign finance reform by running a PAC — the PAC failed, miserably. This time around, he's trying to run for president on a single issue: He would get Congress to pass campaign finance reform, and then resign.