5 Things to Watch for at Tonight's Democratic Debate in Brooklyn

Clinton and Sanders will face off in Brooklyn tonight.

ByABC News
April 14, 2016, 2:21 AM

— -- If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere -- or so they say. And now, after competing press releases and months of negotiations, the two Democratic presidential candidates have their chance to show which one of them is ready to make it all the way to the White House.

A political subway series, if you will, ladies and gentlemen. Two (sort of) New Yorkers battle it out on the debate stage again just days before the Empire State votes on Tuesday, April 19.

Here's what to look for tonight:


Will the real New Yorker please stand up? Over the past few weeks, Clinton and Sanders have showed off their New York City chops as they’ve campaigned across the five boroughs. Clinton —- who lives in Westchester County north of New York City, is a former senator with campaign headquarters based in Brooklyn -- made a stop for cheesecake at Juniors diner in Brooklyn and took a subway ride in the Bronx. Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, held campaign events in front of his childhood home and iconic locations such as Coney Island and Washington Square Park. Tonight at the debate, the two candidates could likely try to one up each other about who lays greater claim to the Empire State.


In recent weeks, Clinton and Sanders have engaged in a back-and-forth spat about who is -- or isn’t -– qualified to be president. Sanders first said Clinton was not qualified to be president and incorrectly said she had said he wasn’t. Then he backtracked -– slightly -- and said his opponent is both qualified and unqualified to be president. Clinton, meanwhile, said “yes” Sanders is qualified for the job, but then went on to question his policy proposals and experience. Sanders’ interview with the New York Daily News editorial board, where he stumbled during a question about his Wall Street plan, only added fuel to the fire. "I noticed that under the bright spotlight and scrutiny here in New York Senator Sanders has had trouble answering questions,” Clinton told reporters. Tonight will be the first time the two candidates can confront each other about the feud.


In a debate held in New York City, there’s no question both Wall Street and terrorism are bound to come up. Just this week, Sanders criticized a $5 billion settlement Goldman Sachs reached with the Justice Department and debuted a new ad criticizing the bank (which, as he’ll be the first to point out, has paid Clinton six-figures for a speech). Tonight’s debate is also the first since the terror attacks in Brussels. Since then, Clinton has played up the commander in chief aspect of the job and played up her foreign policy experience, in some ways suggesting her opponent isn’t as tough.


A staunch opponent to hydraulic fracking, Sanders this week proposed a national ban on the controversial shale gas extraction technology. While speaking in cities in upstate New York in particular, Sanders used this to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Clinton, who as Secretary of State, on occasion advocate for fracking abroad. New York state banned fracking a year ago after a large push by activists and so by highlighting this component of his environmental policy, Sanders also gets to talk about and hype up the recent successes of grassroots organizers. Expect the Sanders, who is relying on the mobilization of progressives, to talk about this issue.


The underdog candidate has picked up steam with victories in seven out of the last eight contests. On then eve of the debate, Sanders’ campaign threw another mega-rally in the heart of downtown Manhattan too that drew over 27,000 people, according to estimates from the campaign. “I don’t think that there is any doubt but that our campaign today has the momentum,” Sanders proclaimed during his Wednesday night rally. On the other hand, Clinton has maintained her significant lead in the delegate math and on the trail dismisses charges about the enthusiasm around Sanders’ campaign, by reminding people that she has received more votes than he has. Expect both candidates tonight to argue that their campaign is the one on the move.