Sanders official predicts health care, climate change will be top issues in fifth Democratic debate

A national policy director for Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 2020 campaign predicted that health care and climate change will be among the top issues raised during Wednesday's Democratic presidential primary debate.

"Obviously, health care is going to be near or at the top of the list," Josh Orton said Tuesday during an appearance on "Rising."

"I also think that one of the things we're seeing more and more young people engage with - and you saw this with some of the Sunrise Movement that he and [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez talk to in Iowa - is global climate change and how are we actually going to address this existential crisis," he added.

Orton emphasized that Sanders has long been an advocate for addressing climate change, noting that Sanders in 2016 named global climate change as the biggest threat to national security.

"We see the science and if we're to believe the scientists that we don't have a lot of time left, we really have to create a comprehensive program to address climate change, so I really hope that climate change is at the top of the list," he told Hill.TV.

In August, the Vermont senator rolled out a $16 trillion climate change plan to address climate change. The comprehensive plan calls for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy and making sure that the U.S. economy is carbon-free by 2050.

But it is Sanders's signature "Medicare for All" plan that has garnered the most attention. The proposal looks to effectively get rid of a single-payer option in favor of a government-run plan.

Orton defended the progressive policy during his interview with Hill.TV.

"From the beginning, I think Bernie has always said that this is not going to be easy," he told Hill.TV. "And I think that's one of the things that people admire about him is that he knows that this is a big fight." 

Sanders along with nine other candidates are poised to face off in the fifth Democratic debate in Atlanta.

Former Vice President will take center stage alongside top rivals Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The frontrunners will be flanked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer.

The debate will also feature an all-female panel of moderators, including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell as well as NBC News' Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker.

-Tess Bonn