By Ben Kamisar - 03/10/16 12:37 AM EST
Bernie Sanders #DemDebate closing remarks
Bernie Sanders closing debate remarks receive a standing ovation: "Is it right that in the greatest, wealthiest country in the history of the world so many of our young people can’t even afford to go to college, or leave school deeply in debt? In the wealthiest country in the history of the world! If we stand up, fight back, we can do a lot better. That’s why I’m running for president."Posted by The Hill on Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The day after Bernie SandersBernie SandersLibertarian nominee: I agree with 73 percent of what Sanders says Sanders makes last-ditch fundraising appeal Sanders cuts press conference short in California MORE squeaked by Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonLibertarian nominee: I agree with 73 percent of what Sanders says Judge unseals documents on Trump University Clinton campaign chief: Voters aren't 'thinking about email servers' MORE in the Michigan primaries, the two Democratic presidential candidates engaged in a contentious debate as they ready for big-delegate states next week.
Univision broadcast the debate from Miami in Spanish, simulcast and translated on CNN, with moderators asking some of the race’s most pointed questions on immigration and other hot button issues.
With just days until the all-important March 15 primaries, where more than 30 percent of delegates will be awarded, including in Florida, here are five things to know about Wednesday’s debate.
The Democratic Party has moved to the left on immigration
A healthy dose of immigration policy was expected during Wednesday's debate. But the candidates' posture — their agreements and their attacks against each other — showed a party that's ready to shift even further to the left than its current standard-bearer, President Obama.
Both candidates agreed to not deport any person in the U.S. illegally who has not committed any other crimes; they doubled down on pushing Obama's immigration executive actions even further and they pledged to tackle immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship as a top priority.
But Clinton hung Sanders's 2007 vote against immigration reform around his neck, casting his argument that he voted against the bill because of concerns about inhumane guest-worker policies as fiction.
"I think it’s very hard to make the case that Ted Kennedy, Barack ObamaBarack ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report Five things Clinton needs to do to win the California primary Republican senator expects Trump will 'embrace' GOP platform MORE, me, La Raza, United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta, leaders of the Hispanic community would have supported a bill that actually promoted modern slavery,” Clinton said.
Sanders struck back by arguing that Clinton had been too conservative in coming out against driver's licenses for those in America illegally back in 2007 and that she wasn't compassionate enough when child migrants fled to America in 2014.
"One of the great human tragedies of recent years was when children came from Honduras, where there is probably more violence than almost every place in this country," Sanders said.
"And I said welcome those children into this country. Secretary Clinton said send them back.”
The emphasis comes as Donald TrumpDonald TrumpLibertarian nominee: I agree with 73 percent of what Sanders says Judge unseals documents on Trump University Fat Joe on Trump: 'We can’t have that guy in office’ MORE continues to strengthen his grip on the Republican nomination, a reality that could drive even more Hispanics to vote for the Democrats.
Clinton and Sanders are getting under each other's skin
The Democratic debates may lack the off-color and personal barbs seen on the GOP side of the aisle, but it's becoming clear that the two Democrats are starting to get exasperated with one another.
Sunday's debate marked the most contentious one yet, and that flavor carried over into Wednesday night, with Clinton sternly rebuking Sanders with an "excuse me" when he tried to interrupt her. Sanders made a similar remark on Sunday, which resulted in boos from that debate's audience.
One flashpoint came when Clinton repeated her recent accusation that Sanders had been against the auto bailout. The Vermont senator accused her of cherrypicking pieces of his record, noting that he had supported an auto bailout but only voted against the bill because it bailed out Wall Street as well.
"What the secretary is doing tonight, and has done very often, is take large pieces of legislation and take pieces out of it," Sanders said, bashing her for making "unfair" and "horrific" statements.
"I will match my record against yours any day."
Sanders has eyes on the superdelegates
Clinton leads in pledged delegates — those won by election — by 206. But with superdelegates — those who are free to support whomever they want and can change their minds at any time — Clinton’s lead rises.
Clinton has more than 460 superdelegates to Sanders' approximately 20, which, when added to her pledged delegates, has put her more than halfway to the total needed to win the nomination.
That makes it a tough hill for Sanders to climb — unless he can capture some of those superdelegates, party leaders who have overwhelmingly backed Clinton.
Aware of that reality, Sanders publicly pivoted to an appeal to the party's superdelegates.
Lauding his upset win in Michigan by noting that some have called the win one of the "major political upsets in modern American history," Sanders pitched an optimistic message.
"We will continue to do extremely well, win a number of these primaries and convince superdelegates that Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump."
Clinton is done with the email questions
Clinton faced some of her toughest questions during Wednesday's debate on the investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of State, and her answers showed she is ready to move past it.
"I'm not concerned about it. I'm not worried about it, and no Democrat or American should be, either," she said.
When pressed by moderator Jorge Ramos about whether she'd drop out if she was indicted on the matter, Clinton refused to answer.
"Oh, for goodness, it's not going to happen. I'm not even answering that question," she said.
The answer comes a week after a State Department staffer took an immunity deal surrounding the FBI investigation into her emails. Clinton said Sunday that she's happy to hear that the employee is cooperating.
Sanders won’t back down on Clinton’s paid speeches
Sanders believes that he’s found a weak spot for Clinton: her paid speeches to Wall Street. He has repeatedly called on her to release the transcripts of them, questioning whether she had been cozying up to Wall Street in private.
“I would think that a speech so great that you got paid so much money for, you would like to share it with the American people,” Sanders said.
When Clinton said that she had gone to the banks ahead of the financial crisis to warn them about reckless behavior, Sanders shot back sarcastically.
"Clearly the secretary's words to Wall Street has really intimidated [Wall Street], and that is why they have given her $15 million in campaign contributions," he joked.
In response, Clinton evoked a recent ad from a group aligned with the Koch Brothers that praised his stance against the Export-Import Bank. The reminder is a particularly harsh one for Sanders, who repeatedly rails on the Koch's influence in politics.