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Will the Gloves Come off in Tonight’s Brooklyn CNN Debate?

The Democratic primary race has recently changed the tone of its narrative. Originally, it looked as if Hillary Clinton would win the nomination without breaking a sweat. However, over the last few months, Sen. Bernie Sanders has gradually tightened the gap between the two candidates. The competition has also shifted from seemingly amicable to evidently hostile. If anything, tonight’s debate in Brooklyn should be a clear indication of what we can expect in the final months of the race.

Last month, Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson said on CNN that the Clinton campaign would not schedule another debate unless Sanders changed his tone. Benenson said he feels the Democratic Party should be targeting GOP candidates, such as Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz. He criticized the Sanders campaign for its attacks and claims they were running negative advertisements in North Carolina and Illinois. Ironically, in 2008 Clinton herself said, “You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.”

The Sanders campaign has continuously used Clinton’s acceptance of special interest funds, her support of free trade, and her vote in favor of the Iraq War against her. He also recently questioned whether or not Clinton is properly qualified for presidency stating, “Are you qualified to be president of the United States when you’re raising millions of dollars from Wall Street, an entity whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior helped destroy our economy?”

Although Clinton has alluded to the characterization that Sanders is not qualified, she has not faced the allegation head on. Tonight, CNN’s moderators are likely to bring this up as a major topic of discussion. Clinton may also be asked about a racially-charged joke from Mayor Bill de Blasio while the two shared a stage. At an event last Saturday, Clinton joked with de Blasio about taking a long time to endorse her. To which he replied, he was “running on CP time,” referring to “colored people time,” which is a common generalization that African-Americans are normally late or lazy when it comes to time management.

Arguably the backbone of Clinton’s campaign has been unwavering support from the African-American community, and after her husband, Bill Clinton, had some choice words to say about the Black Lives Matter movement, Clinton may find herself losing some of her strongest supporters.

Sanders and Clinton have also vastly differed on their perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this topic has been somewhat downplayed. Clinton wants to continue strengthening relations with Israel, while Sanders said he believes in a two-state solution. In an interview with Bold, Democratic strategist Nomiki Konst came to Sanders’ defense saying, “I think he’s taken a reasonable stance on this. Playing a hard line in diplomacy doesn’t work, it didn’t work while she [Clinton] was Secretary of State.”

In order for Sanders to win tonight, Jordan Chariton, a political reporter for The Young Turks said he believes that Sanders needs to stand his ground, not compromise his beliefs, and ensure he explains the specifics of his policies.

“He needs to tap into his inner Brooklyn and take the gloves off,” Chariton told Bold. “Clinton is very good at deflecting and turning attacks around on Sanders—he needs to anticipate her doing so and be ready to repeat and repeat again calls for her to release Wall Street transcripts.”

There will certainly be many topics after tonight, including whether this debate could be the hinge point for Sanders’ campaign, either making him, or breaking him. Perhaps the most important question of all: where do Sanders’ followers land if Clinton winds up winning? A recent McClatchy poll showed one in four Bernie supporters would not vote for Clinton in the general election, potentially having an enormous impact on November’s outcome.

Will Sanders overcome Clinton’s home state? Or will the frontrunner be able to pull away?

Photo by @meetthepress

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