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Politics

What Democratic candidates must do to make a splash at tonight’s debate




Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting on August 28, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting on August 28, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

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So far, we’ve seen two very entertaining debates from Republican presidential contenders, during which we learned that Donald Trump doesn’t think much of Megyn Kelly and that Carly Fiorina may be the best debater out of the bunch.

Tonight, it’s the Democrats’ turn to take the stage in the first televised Democratic presidential debate, hosted by CNN. The stage will be far less crowded with only five candidates slated to participate.

As the highest-polling candidate, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be at center stage, flanked by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on her right and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on her left. Bookending the stage will be former Virginia Senator Jim Webb (to Sanders’ right) and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee (to O’Malley’s left).

CNN also invited Vice President Joe Biden to participate in the debate, but he declined the invitation.

For all five candidates, it will be a chance to separate themselves from one another on the same stage. Up to this point, much of what we’ve heard from Democratic candidates has been in the form of sound bites. This will be Democratic voters’ first opportunity to see how well-formulated candidates’ platforms are and how well they stand up to their GOP counterparts.

It will also be a chance for the three candidates participating who aren’t Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton to get some national face time and maybe even connect with Democratic voters who haven’t gone out of their way to find out more about the non-mainstream candidates.

What are you hoping to see from the Democratic candidates tonight? Do you think this is going to be ‘The Hillary and Bernie Show’ or could we see a strong showing from one of the other candidates? What issues would you like to hear candidates address?

Guests:

Matt Rodriguez, Democratic strategist and founder of Rodriguez Strategies. He’s also a former senior Obama advisor in 2008

Lynn Vavreck, professor of political science in the Department of Political Science at UCLA