Democratic presidential candidates make their pitch in third round of debates

Following the third Democratic primary debate in Houston, candidates quickly moved back onto the campaign trail to make their case to voters.

The front-runner in the polls, former Vice-President Joe Biden returned to the Texas Southern University Friday to tour the historically black university that hosted Thursday's debate.

Biden met with students and afterwards said he felt good about the debate.

"What I saw last night is fewer and fewer personal attacks. It was about what are we going to do in the future," said Biden.

"Nobody came out of the pack and said something that suddenly catapulted them to be in the forefront," said Henry Brady, Dean of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.

Brady says he expects health care, which was a winning issue for Democrats during the mid-term election will likely remain a big issue in the next debate.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are proposing Medicare for all to replace private insurance.

Biden says he wants to preserve the Obama-era Affordable Care Act but add a public option.

"That's really more if a pragmatic difference than a philosophical difference. The truth is every one of the candidates believes that  America should do better job in the health care field," said Brady.

Brady says Biden will likely continue to challenge progressives on how they'll pay for programs.

"It's a legitimate and good question to ask whether we really have that money right now," said Brady.

Brady says California Senator Kamala Harris has a challenge, standing out, her poll numbers stuck in single digits.

"She sort of wants to be the candidate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. That's where she's trying to place herself. The question is, is there any room there," said Brady.

Candidates who did not make the debate stage were watching.

One candidate was not impressed.

"It was three hours of sort of, you know, verbal salad and it didn't really change anything." said Montana Governor and presidential candidate Steve Bullock, who was campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa.

The field of twenty candidates still in the race could quickly change, with the October first deadline to qualify for the next debate.

"People who are down so far that they are can't even get on the stage are probably going to have to start thinking really hard about whether they'll want to continue," said Brady.

Sanders and Warren, splitting the party's progressives, are closing in behind Biden a win if both stay in.

"If Sanders dropped out and Warren got all those votes. Warren would be the front runner no doubt and vice versa. The trouble is it's not clear that either one of them is going to drop out any time soon," said Brady.

The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that the fourth primary debate will be held in Westerville, Ohio at Otterbein University.

The debate is scheduled for October 15th, with a possible second night on October 16th, depending on how many additional candidates meet the criteria.

So far, the ten candidates on stage in Houston will be joined by one additional candidate, San Francisco billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has met the threshold of 130,000 individual donors, but still has not met the requirement of 2% support in four DNC-approved polls.

Candidates have until October 1st to qualify for the debate.