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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Set to Clash in Miami Debate

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stand before the Democratic Debate in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. / AFP / Geoff Robins (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)Photograph by Geoff Robins—AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders arrive in Miami on Wednesday for the last Democratic debate in March, one day after splitting victories and delegates in Mississippi and Michigan.

Wednesday night’s debate will likely be intense: with Sanders showing new signs of life, Clinton will hope to quickly dispatch him. But as she looks ahead to a general election, she’ll need to make sure she doesn’t alienate Sanders’ supporters either. Sanders, meanwhile, will drive home his message against political corruption and income inequality with the ferocity of an insurgent who may not have a national platform for much longer.

While Sanders staged a morale-boosting upset in Michigan, Clinton’s lopsided victory in Mississippi won her most of the delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. She is well on her way toward the nomination with a large lead in pledged delegates.

Sunday night’s debate in Flint, as most of the contests, appeared to end in a wash. But even with Sanders hewing close to his core platform and Clinton again demonstrating her nimble grasp of policy, the tone was feistier and more urgent than in previous debates.
Sanders was sometimes dismissive of Clinton on Sunday night, adopting a pitch that some critics said was patronizing of the former Secretary of State. His hyperactively wagging finger and bass protestations—“Excuse me, I’m talking,” he said to Clinton on Sunday—were supposed to turn off Michigan voters.

But Sanders still beat expectations by winning Michigan, with some speculating that Clinton’s attacks against Sanders and claims that he opposed the auto bailout backfired.

On Wednesday, Clinton will likely talk about her economic plans to create manufacturing jobs and paint Sanders as a backward-looking candidate, as she did on Sunday’s debate. “You know, if we’re going to argue about the 1990s instead of talking about the future—” Clinton said several times.

Clinton’s aides say she has the advantage in looking ahead and explaining drawn-out policy proposals. “I think Senator Sanders has continued to look backwards and talk about the past in terms of economic policy,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “What voters are looking is for candidates to look forward to the future.”

Clinton heads into contests after the debate that should be favorable to her, including Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, while Sanders sees opportunities in states like Ohio and Washington.

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