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4 things to watch for in the Democrats' debate Wednesday

WASHINGTON — You wouldn't know from the debates that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is nearing its end.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue their combative debates even though the former secretary is collecting the delegates she needs to defeat the independent Vermont senator.

Their eighth debate tonight comes days before important primaries in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, as well as caucuses in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The two-hour event at Miami Dade College, starting at 9 p.m., will air on Univision in Spanish and will simulcast on FUSION and CNN in English.

Here's what to look for.

Will Clinton pivot to the general election?

After winning a series of larger delegate states on Super Tuesday last week, Clinton began pivoting toward the Republicans as she looks toward the general election.

However, she failed to do that in Sunday's debate in Michigan. Instead she and Sanders engaged in one of their more testy exchanges. She targeted the Republican opponents only when asked near the debate's end.

The fight over the black vote

Clinton is winning in large part because of black voters — especially in Southern states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama — who are voting for her in staggering numbers.

She's devoted several speeches to issues that appeal to black voters, including criminal justice. She's tied herself politically to the first black president. And she campaigns with women whose children were killed, many of them black.

Sanders has talked about the same issues and has rolled out some big endorsements from blacks, but with limited success, in part because some of his perceived gaffes.

Last month, some bristled when he said he'd be better for race relations than President Barack Obama.

How far will Sanders go to attack her?

Sanders, who maintains a decadeslong pledge to run only positive campaigns, has been reluctant to attack Clinton, though that has gradually changed even as many refer to her as the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee. He has talked about her inconsistencies, stance on trade and ties to Wall Street.

Sanders will have to push her to reclaim voters' attention.

Who has the advantage on Cuba?

Less than two weeks before Obama becomes the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in more than 80 years, both Democratic candidates say they support the U.S. restoring diplomatic relations with the island nation.

It wasn't always that way.

Years ago, Sanders flew to Cuba for an eight-day visit with his wife in an attempt to meet with leader Fidel Castro. Years ago, Clinton, then Obama's opponent for the White House, criticized him.

4 things to watch for in the Democrats' debate Wednesday 03/08/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 10:21pm]
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