Biden and Warren are and will likely continue to be the yin and yang of the battle to become the Democratic flag bearer in the 2020 elections. Biden is a progressive and pragmatic establishment. Warren is an outsider, a fanatic and idealist. Biden has been the leader of the race since the beginning. Warren quickly steals the star from Bernie Sanders in the party's progressive wing.
They represent, roughly speaking, the two tracks in front of the Democratic voters, who will spend the coming months to determine which option presents the best chances of defeating President Donald Trump. And remarkably, they have never shared a stage of debate before.
That means we – and they – will be in unknown territory tonight. What is exciting!
That said, the two candidates have already provided very clear indications of what they consider to be the main weakness of the other, and a careful reading of these comments tells us a lot about the field on which the debate on Thursday will oppose its two most important actors.
Let's start with how Warren will attack Biden.
"There is a lot at stake and people are scared, but we can not choose a candidate we do not believe because we are afraid."
If you think a) that this line was accidental or b) if it did not directly target Biden's eligibility argument, there is a very popular video company called Blockbuster that I would like to sell to you .
Warren's remarks seemed to be a direct rejection of Jill Biden's statement in New Hampshire last month, according to which the faculty of eligibility is all that any democrat should care about.
What Warren was saying in essence was: We all want to beat Trump. But you must not compromise your beliefs to achieve this result. Do not vote for someone you do not believe in, just because he says the only thing that matters is to beat Trump and that he's the best person for do it.
But Biden has prepared a counter-argument.
The plans are not enough, again, is a decisive blow against Warren – even though his name was not invoked by the advisor – who based all his candidacy on the idea that she has a detailed plan for everything and no matter what.
Biden's team sees the contrast between his years of fighting and victories in political battles and years spent in academia, as well as his relative lack of legislative achievements during his seven years in the Senate .
One of these two candidates did something and another talked about what she would do, explains Biden 's argument.
Now, it is possible that Biden and Warren decide that tonight is not the right time to broadcast these attacks in front of millions of viewers. Or that a moment never comes up where the hits feel make sense.
But make no mistake: these are the two contrasts that define the Democratic primary fight – unless and until another candidate (Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are the most likely options) shows that they belong to the first rank.
Do vs. talk. Vote by fear vs vote for hope. Initiate vs outsider. A return to normal vs a significant structural change. This is the pivot on which the struggle of Democratic voters for hearts and minds will revolve. And this battle will probably start seriously tonight.