'And Then There Were Two'

Sunday's debate will feature only two candidates: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2020 12:00 PM CDT
Now, It's Mano-a-Mano
From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, SC.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

And then there were two. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are set to meet Sunday night in their first one-to-one presidential primary debate after months of Democratic free-for-alls that presaged a dramatic culling of the field since the opening round of the 2020 race, the AP reports. Some key questions to look for about the debate, which takes place before the next round of primaries on Tuesday, when 577 delegates are at stake in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. The coronavirus outbreak has overturned American life, but it is unclear whether the unfolding crisis changes a race that Biden controls with more than half the delegates already awarded. Both candidates have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a hook to try to justify their main themes, and can be expected to do so again Sunday.

Sanders has been saying that the pandemic demonstrates the need for his "Medicare for All" universal health insurance plan, along with other expansion of a social safety net. He said the shortage of medical goods, from masks and rubber gloves to diagnostic testing kits, is a consequence of decades of establishment trade policy that sent US manufacturing prowess overseas. To Biden, it's a moment to make the case against President Donald Trump’s competence. The former vice president has run against Trump from the beginning, so much so that it cost him embarrassing finishes in early-voting Iowa and New Hampshire. But Biden has rebounded in recent weeks. Click to read about other possible factors in the debate. (Or see what Biden has done amid security scares.)

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