Sorry, Marty. It’s down to Hillary and Bernie now.
With Martin O’Malley out of the presidential race, the two remaining Democratic candidates will go head-to-head for the first time on Thursday night, launching a two-person contest likely to stretch to Super Tuesday and beyond. The 9 p.m. debate on MSNBC was only confirmed on Wednesday, after Clinton, Sanders, and the Democratic National Committee agreed to add four additional match-ups to the two remaining contests that were previously scheduled.
Presidential candidate debates in recent elections have often come with a theme—the economy, for example, or national security and foreign policy. Thursday’s event is ostensibly open-ended, but it will probably focus on one over-arching question: What does it mean to be a progressive?
That’s been the topic of discussion in the three days since Clinton defeated Sanders by the thinnest margin in the history of the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Defending his comfortable lead in the New Hampshire polls, Sanders has begun to question Clinton’s progressive credentials. The dispute began on Tuesday, when a reporter asked Sanders if he considered his rival a progressive. “Some days, yes,” he replied. “Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she is not a progressive.”