Five things to watch in Tuesday's Democratic National Debate

Posted at 8:27 PM, Oct 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-13 08:36:01-04

1. Can anyone touch Hillary?

Despite dealing with her ongoing scandal regarding her personal email account, Hillary Clinton continues to hold a sizeable lead on her competitors. Most national polls continue to place her nearly 20 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, who remains in a distant second place.

2. Will Bernie Sanders come out swinging?

The Independent senator from Vermont has a substantial following, but has a long way to go in the polls if he wants to catch Hillary Clinton. Throughout his poetical career, Sanders has largely shied away from attack ads while choosing to focus on his own political platform. But with only a few debates to make his mark, will Sanders have a change of heart?

3.  How will Joe Biden factor in?

Though he's yet to announce his candidacy and will not take part in Tuesday's debate in Las Vegas, it's widely suspected that Vice President Joe Biden could make a serious run for the nomination if he were to throw his hat into the ring. Will the current candidates allow him to fly under the radar? Will his absence prove to be "addition by subtraction"?

4. What about those other three guys?

Clinton and Sanders have dominated the headlines in the months leading up to the first debate, but there will be three other candidates participating: Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee and former Virginia senator Jim Webb. All three are largely unknown to the average American, and with a relatively light slate of debates on the Democratic side, time is already running out for them to make a statement.



5. Will anyone take the "Trump" route?

No one will argue that Donald Trump has received the most media coverage of any presidential candidate in the early going — for better or for worse, he hasn't shied away from any questions since he announced his candidacy. Things have been much quieter on the left side of the aisle, but that could all change on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Is no news really good news? Will any candidates feel pressured to match Trump's bravado?

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.

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