The main website's LMDE known issues page (the one the Welcome Screen links to) says this:
Multi-core and multi-CPU support in 32-bit kernel
To guarantee compatibility with non-PAE processors, the 32-bit versions of Linux Mint Debian come with a 486 kernel by default. This kernel does not support SMP, and as a consequence is only able to detect one core and one CPU. If your CPU has multiple cores, or if you have more than one CPU, simply install the 686-PAE kernel and reboot your computer.
A forum post says how to do it:
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sudo aptitude install linux-image-686 linux-headers-686-pae
I think this one-liner should be added to the LMDE issues page, so users don't have to search for it. Can someone implement this / tell me the proper place to request this?