Just three days after they clashed in Michigan and the day after the Wolverine State’s Democrats cast its votes, presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton met in Florida to debate.
It was, at times, more contentious than previous debates — especially when Clinton hit Sanders for his views on Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and when Sanders continued to press Clinton about her speeches to Wall Street banks. At other moments, it seemed to be a rerun of previous events. Ultimately, though, the candidates engaged in a substantive discussion that was primarily focused on domestic issues, particularly immigration.
Which makes sense — the debate was hosted by Univision, a Spanish-language channel. On immigration, both candidates managed to take their shots at each other. Sanders pressed Clinton on her comments made in 2014 about returning Honduran children who had crossed the border into the United States. Clinton, meanwhile, hit Sanders on his vote against Sen. Ted Kennedy’s 2007 immigration bill.
Both of them, meanwhile, denounced Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and to deport existing undocumented immigrants.
Clinton supporters may come away from the debate feeling like their candidate was targeted more than her opponent, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The former Secretary of State was asked multiple questions about her ongoing e-mail scandal, and moderator Jorge Ramos pressed her to answer if she’d drop out of the race if she was indicted — a question Clinton dismissed with scorn.
Ramos also pushed Clinton on the long-gestating Benghazi scandal, essentially asking her if she lied to the family members of those killed in the attack in Libya. The assembled audience, which was particularly lively, booed at the question.
Several exchanges, including those on health care and the Wall Street bailout, mirrored conversations we’ve heard in previous debates.
So, who won?
Clinton held her ground. She still seems presidential, and she did a good job of standing up to Sanders when he directly attacked her record. Sanders, meanwhile, continued to position himself as the true progressive in the race, forcing Clinton to defend her positions on healthcare, student debt, and her ties to Wall Street.
As with previous Democratic debates, the race is probably in the same place it was before the debate began. Having once again avoiding anything resembling a debate meltdown, Clinton is still in the best position to win the nomination. But Sanders seems poised to stay in the race through the end of the spring, which is his most attainable goal at this point.