5 Things to Watch for at Tonight's Democratic Debate

The 8th Democratic debate is tonight in Miami, Florida.

ByABC News
March 9, 2016, 9:54 AM

MIAMI -- Just three days after Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off in one of their most heated debates yet in Flint, Michigan, the two candidates will meet again today for the eighth Democratic debate in Miami, Florida.

Tonight's debate, which is co-hosted by the Washington Post and Univision, comes at a critical time for Sanders, who is coming off of a huge, surprising win in Michigan Tuesday night but is still playing catch-up in the race for delegates. This could be a make-or-break moment for him, as he seeks to capitalize and expand his Midwest momentum.

Here's five things to expect as the two Democratic candidates go head to head tonight.

THE LATINO VOTE: Given that the debate is airing on a major Spanish-language television network, the topics are sure to focus on issues impacting the Hispanic community -- namely immigration and a path towards citizenship. Both campaigns held conference calls with reporters on Tuesday to attack the other candidates' record on these issues. Sanders and Clinton will be able to defend their positions and draw contrasts tonight.

FLINT FACT CHECK: At the Flint debate on Sunday, Clinton appeared to catch Sanders off guard when she accused him of not supporting the auto bailout -- an attack that Sanders the following day said was "categorically untrue." Both candidates have since doubled down on their attacks and released ads on the issue. Tonight they could likely take it up again in person.

TESTY EXCHANGES: Clinton and Sanders tend to remain cordial, but at the debate on Sunday, things got contentious. Sanders told Clinton, "excuse me, I'm talking," which Clinton's campaign aides described as "disrespectful" and "rude." Sanders responded by saying he thought Clinton was the one being "rude” since she was the one interrupting. Either way, as they share a stage tonight, keep an eye out for who tries to override who.

PRAISE FOR SANDERS: Despite what could be some heated back-and-forths between the two candidates, Clinton has tried to pivot her rhetoric and attention to the general election -- part of which may include getting Sanders (and his supporters) on her side. In recent days, she's had some kinder words for her opponent: She’s called him an "ally" and said she "would hope to enlist" him to help should she be the nominee. Thus tonight, don't be surprised if Clinton finds moments to praise him as opposed to just knocking him down. That said, Sanders told ABC News' David Wright that that language was premature. After last night's stunning upset, will Clinton have to change her tune again?

A BREAK-OUT MOMENT: Big picture: The pressure is still on Sanders. Yes, he scored a major upset in a large, diverse state, but Clinton won one too and actually expanded her delegate lead with her overwhelming victory in Mississippi on Tuesday night. Though the Vermont senator has said he is confident in his path forward, realistically he needs to find a way to translate his Michigan win into more solid victories in that region and beyond in order to tighten that delegate gap. His performance tonight could be his chance.