This time, it is in Miami, and sponsored by Univision and The Washington Post and simulcast on CNN (which sponsored a Democratic debate in Flint, Mich., just three nights ago).
Sanders is likely to again focus on what may have been a winning issue for him in Michigan — trade. To contrast himself with Clinton, he has characterized himself as a consistent opponent to recent major trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and the recent Trans Pacific Partnership, which is backed by President Obama. Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the pact last year.
While Clinton holds a wide lead in polling in Florida, which votes on March 15, other Midwestern states including Ohio and Illinois vote that day too, and Sanders’ campaign is hoping for another upset. But he’ll still have to contend with Clinton’s wide delegate lead, which, despite his win of Michigan, only expanded on Tuesday after she scored a lopsided victory in Mississippi.
Follow along for live updates below:
9:06 pm ET: Too many debates? News networks are capitalizing any way they can, given the gangbuster ratings for debates. The answer to expanding the lineup beyond sanctioned debates? Town halls. As CNN simulcasts the Univision debate, Fox News is counter-programming with a lineup of interviews with Republican candidates all evening. Ted Cruz will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly in the 9 pm hour, and Donald Trump will appear with Sean Hannity in the 10 pm hour.
9:13 pm ET: The upset. Clinton is pressed on her defeat in Michigan, and she promptly notes that she drew 100,000 more votes of all primaries on Tuesday, and came away with more delegates. In Michigan, “it was a very close race. We have had some of those. I have won some. I have lost some.”
Sanders is asked how he would overcome Clinton’s delegate lead. He first notes that “some people considered [Michigan] one of the major upsets in modern political history.” He said that he would have to “convince superdelegates that Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump.”
9:20 pm ET: Those damn emails, II. Jorge Ramos asks Clinton if she would resign if she is indicted over her use of a private email server while Secretary of State. “Oh, for goodness. That is not going to happen. I am not going to either.” When it comes to the investigation into her emails, she says, “I am not concerned about it. I am not worried about it. And no American should be either.”
Sanders says that the “process will take its course.” It’s not exactly the strong defense he gave at the first debate, but he again says that he will focus his campaign on pressing issues like the economy and climate change.
9:30 pm ET: Is Trump a racist? Neither Clinton or Sanders will come out and say that Donald Trump is a racist, but they do point out how they have condemned his divisive rhetoric. Sanders notes that Trump was involved in the “birther” movement in 2012, while Clinton challenges Trump’s campaign slogan.
“You don’t make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great,” she says.
9:34 pm ET: Deportations. Ramos, noting that President Obama’s administration has deported more than 2 million immigrants, runs a clip from an interview in which Clinton declines to say whether she would not deport children. Instead, she says that she would give “due process.” At the debate, she calls for stopping “the raids, the roundups.” She says that she will not deport children, and instead “prioritize” deporting criminals and those with a record.
“Of the undocumented people living in our country, I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship,” she says.
Sanders, too, says he would not deport children, but he criticizes Clinton for supporting the Obama administration in sending back children who trekked to the United States to escape violence in Honduras. “I said, welcome those children into this country,” he says. She says that “we needed to be very concerned about little children coming to this country on their own.”
9:50 pm ET: Auto bailout. Sanders brings up an issue that came up during the debate on Sunday — that he voted against the bailout of auto manufacturers in 2008-09. He slams Clinton for picking out pieces of major legislation and using it against him. “This wasn’t the automobile bailout. This was the bailout of Wall Street,” he insists. Funds from the legislation, directed at the major Wall Street banks, were used to bolster Detroit automakers.
10:02 ET: Trust. Clinton is asked about the issue of likability and trust. Exit polls in states like Michigan and New Hampshire have not been great news to her campaign. She says that it is “painful” to her to hear that, and says, “This is not easy for me. I am not a natural politician, you may have noticed, unlike my husband or President Obama,” she says.
10:02 pm ET: Benghazi. As Clinton is asked a question about the Benghazi attacks, there are boos in the audience, a reaction to a well worn issue. But Univision plays a Fox News interview with the mother of a victim, a security contractor who was killed in the 2012 attacks, asking why Clinton and other administration officials “lied” about the nature of the insurgency.
“I feel a great sympathy for the families of the brave Americans that we lost in Benghazi….but she is wrong. She is absolutely wrong. We were scrambling to get information that was literally changing by the hour.”
She then notes that she testified before a special House committee on Benghazi in October for about 11 hours. “I answered every question that I was asked,” she says.
Sanders doesn’t criticize Clinton’s response to the Benghazi attacks, and instead focuses on the policy of seeking regime change in Libya.
10:19 pm ET: Student debt. Sanders appeal among younger voters has been bolstered by his plans for free tuition to public universities, as Clinton has questioned his plans for paying for it.
“My dad used to say, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'”
But Clinton does say that she has a plan for students to refinance their debt, just as homeowners can do with their mortgages.
Sanders thanks Clinton for “copying” one of his ideas.
10:28 pm ET: Climate change. Perhaps no other state in the continental U.S. is as threatened by climate change than Florida, with rising sea levels. The issue has been all but ignored at Republican debates, but moderator Karen Tumulty asks the candidates what they do in the face
Sanders says that Republicans denial that climate change is man-made is motivated by contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Given the GOP opposition, he ties his action to his campaign theme, a “political revolution” to rid Washington of the influence of money in politics.
Clinton says that he would maintain Obama’s executive actions while the economy transitions to clean energy, and also talks about “resilience and mitigation.”
10:34 pm ET. ‘Excuse me.’ As Clinton gave an extended answer on climate change, Sanders tried to interrupt. “Excuse me, excuse me,” Clinton says, a nod to when Sanders snapped at her on Sunday, “Excuse me, I’m talking.”
10:41 pm ET: Cuba and Nicaragua. Sanders is asked about a video from 1985 in which he praised Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Sanders said that he opposed the U.S. effort to overthrow governments in Latin America, not just in Nicaragua in the 1980s and Cuba in the 1960s but in Guatemala and Chile.
“I think the United States should be working with governments around the world, not get involved in regime change,” he says.
Clinton responds by citing the poor human rights record of the Castro regime.
“That is not the kind of ‘revolution’ of values that I want to see anywhere,” she says.
Sanders’ campaign sent out an email giving the “full context” of his remarks about Cuba.
“Sen. Sanders said that the Castro brothers ‘are certainly not’ perfect, but overall argued that ‘just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same.'”
11:00 pm ET: That’s it. Sanders gets a standing ovation after his closing statement, while Clinton grins.
Yet even with that energy, Sanders didn’t get the brunt of the tough questions. Clinton was asked about the emails, Benghazi, trustworthiness. A key moment came when Ramos pressed her on whether she would step down if indicted. “Oh, for goodness. That is not going to happen. I am not going to either,” she said.
The most emotional moment came not from the candidates, but when a Guatamalan woman named Lucia asked the candidates about deportations, and said, “I have great pain because the father of my children was deported because he didn’t have a driver’s license.” Sanders and Clinton each talked about the need to unite families, not break them up.
Sanders’ best sound bite: “I am dangerous to Wall Street.”
Clinton’s best sound bite: “My dad used to say, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'”
Sanders’ worst moment: Trying to explain the Castro comments, which gave Clinton an opening to attack the Castro regime’s human rights record.
Clinton’s worst moment: She said that she would not deport children as president, but only after being pressed on it repeatedly by Ramos.
Sanders’ best moment: His closing statement, which was a reminder of why he has had such success in surprising so many who didn’t think his campaign would resonate.
Clinton’s best moment: Her response to Lucia’s question, which showed thought and empathy.