MIAMI – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are set to tangle here tonight in the eighth Democratic presidential debate, their second head-to-head battle in four days that comes less than a week before voters in this diverse state hit the polls.
The debate also comes less than 24 hours after the Vermont senator unexpectedly beat Clinton narrowly in the Michigan primary, a race that had long been considered a lock for the former secretary of state.
Tonight’s Univision News and Washington Post debate will be held at Miami Dade College and simulcast at 9 p.m. on CNN and Fusion in English and Univision in Spanish.
Here are a few things to watch:
How does Clinton respond to Sanders’ surprise victory in Michigan? In recent weeks, Clinton seemingly began focusing her attention toward the larger race against the Republicans. Does she turn back to Sanders after his strong showing in Michigan? And does Sanders continue a more aggressive tack as a result?
How do both sides appeal to Hispanics? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 24 percent of Florida’s population identified as Hispanic in 2014. With one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country, Clinton and Sanders will almost undoubtedly use their time in Florida to make overtures to that sizable voting bloc. Will their discussions be limited to immigration reform? Or will the pair branch out into other issues important to Latinos, including education and the economy? Could we perhaps hear more about the thawing of U.S. relations with Cuba? Clinton in July said she would like to end the embargo with the communist island nation. Clinton has enjoyed strong support in the Latino community, most recently winning more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas. Does Sanders try to give her a run for his money with the group? If so, how?
Entitlements, entitlements, entitlements. Florida’s large population of retirees make the over-65 crowd a highly prized voting bloc. How much does the debate focus on the candidates’ plans for health care and popular entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare? How do Florida retirees like Sanders’ plan to replace the current system with a federally administered, single-payer system? Or do they favor Clinton’s more incremental approach? Clinton has traditionally polled better with senior citizens.
Will Sanders own his Jewish background? Sanders has largely shied away from discussing his family history on the campaign trail. (Following his primary victory in the New Hampshire last month, he noted he was the son of Polish immigrants but did not mention his family was Jewish.) Will Sanders be more forthcoming about his Jewish roots in Miami, which is home to one of the country’s largest Jewish populations?