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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Prepare to Debate in Milwaukee

February 11, 2016, 6:56 PM UTC
Democratic Presidential Candidates Hold First Debate In Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photograph by Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Two days after a landslide defeat in New Hampshire, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on a debate stage in Milwaukee on Thursday night, where the two are likely to clash on on Wall Street donations, criminal justice reform and foreign policy.

With the race tenser and closer than either Democratic candidate had imagined, Thursday night’s debate will likely be sharper, tenser and more combative than previous debates, and both candidates are expecting an increasingly acrimonious campaign.

“They’re throwing everything at me except the kitchen sink, and I have a feeling that kitchen sink is coming pretty soon too,” Sanders told a crowd on the night of his victory in New Hampshire.

Criminal justice reform and immigration are likely to be major issues in the coming debate with the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary next up. Both have large populations of Latinos and blacks, two groups among whom Clinton tends to poll much better than Sanders. Sanders, meanwhile, will seek to test Clinton’s ability to perform well among minorities.

Sanders has criticized Clinton for taking Wall Street donations and giving paid speeches to financial institutions. In the previous debate last week in Durham, N.H., Clinton accused Sanders of making an “artful smear” against her, and challenged him to point to a case in which she was influenced by her donations. Sanders did not. If Sanders does criticize her more personally on Thursday night, it would reflect a significant turn in the tone of the race.

Clinton questioned Sanders’ foreign policy experience in the previous debate, and her allies have pointed to a mistake Sanders last week when he said North Korea “is such an isolated country run by a handful of dictators, or maybe just one”. (North Korea has only one dictator.) Sanders had pointed to his vote against the Iraq War.

The two are preparing for a long nomination fight, with Sanders amassing huge funding from a robust online fundraising operation. The Vermont senator raised more than $6 million in the 24 hours after the New Hampshire polls closed.

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