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The Latest: Biden contrite over vote approving Iraq invasion

Workers prepare for a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Latest on the January Democratic presidential debate (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden wasted no time in the opening minutes of Democrats’ presidential debate in calling his 2002 vote authorizing an Iraq invasion a mistake.

It was an unusually matter-of-fact tone of contrition for Biden, especially as he tries to emphasize his long foreign policy record as a vice-president and a six-term U.S. senator. The 77-year-old candidate has throughout his campaign mostly defended portions of his record that have come under criticism from his party’s progressive flank.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders nonetheless tried to capitalize on the issue Tuesday night. He pointed out that he voted against the Bush administration’s war powers request as a member of the House, and he called the war the “worst foreign policy blunder in history.”

Biden maintained that he’d compare his “record overall” to any of his Democratic competitors, and he pointed to his role in the Obama administration in dramatically scaling back U.S. involvement in Iraq.

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8 p.m.

Six Democratic presidential candidates are taking the debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa, in a final showdown before primary voting begins.

The half dozen candidates on stage Tuesday are all white and include four men. It’s a stark winnowing of the Democratic field that was once the most diverse in history.

The first debate of 2020 is starting with fresh tension between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren said Monday night that Sanders privately told her in 2018 that he didn’t think a woman could defeat President Donald Trump. Sanders has vigorously denied making the comment.

The dispute isn’t likely to be the only one on stage. Sanders has ratcheted up his criticism of Vice-President Joe Biden over his past support of the Iraq War and other issues. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is looking to break out of the pack, building on strong debates and her arguments that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t have enough experience to be president. Billionaire Tom Steyer is expected to face criticism that he’s trying to buy his way to the White House as he floods early voting states with campaign ads.

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The Associated Press