3 Tough Questions From Miami Democratic Debate

Immigration the focus
March 10, 2016 Updated: April 3, 2016

The March 9 Democratic debate in Miami—”the gateway of America”—was hosted by Univision and focused on the issue of immigration.

Even though this debate comes only four days after the debate in Flint, Michigan, Bernie Sanders’s surprise win over Hillary Clinton in Michigan the night before, gave his campaign a boost in momentum and confidence.

Driving home the point of a bilingual electorate in Florida, the moderators Jorge Ramos, Maria Elena Salinas, and Karen Tumulty spoke in Spanish when addressing the audience, and in English when addressing the candidates, asking Clinton and Sanders some tough questions. Here are three of them and how the candidates answered.

1. Hillary Answers About Email Scandal and Indictment

This is a rare question for recent Democratic debates. In earlier debates, when the email scandal first broke, Sanders gave Clinton a way out of the question: “The American people are sick and tired hearing about your damn emails.”

That was in October. It’s seven months later and thousands of classified emails taken from Clinton’s server have been released to the public on a regular basis.

At the Univision debate, Ramos brought up the subject again, which forced Clinton to go on the defense, explaining away the controversy as the result of “retroactive classification.”

Ramos pressed on, asking if Obama gave her permission for the emails, and then the clincher: “If you get indicted, would you drop out?”

This got under Clinton’s skin: “Oh, for goodness—that’s not going to happen. I’m not even answering that question.” 

2. Sanders Answers About Praising Fidel Castro

A video of an interview from 1985 was shown at the debate, and it included the Vermont Senator praising and rationalizing support for the Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro.

The clip was particularly damning in Miami where the Cubans account for 34 percent of the population.

Sanders was put on defensive and refused to disavow his praise for Castro. He cited that Cuba was making advances with healthcare and sending doctors all over the world, but also stated that he would like Cuba to work towards democracy.

Clinton pounced on the chance saying that Sanders “praised what he called the revolution of values in Cuba and talked about working for the common good, not for themselves.”

She went on to say that she “couldn’t disagree more,” and that values limiting freedom of speech are not values she would support.  

3. Both Sanders and Clinton Stated They Would Not Deport Children

During the debate a woman stood up in the audience and asked in Spanish what the candidates would do to reunite her and her five children with her deported husband.

Sanders answered citing that his immigration plan was the most progressive according to the New York Times, and that “the essence of what we are trying to do is to unite families, not to divide families.”

Clinton was more personal in her response, saying:

“You are doing your very best to support your children. But it is time to bring families together. And I don’t think there’s any doubt that we must do more to let stories like yours be heard more widely so that more Americans know what the human cost of these policies are.”

Both candidates had similar answers with Sanders pointing to his immigration record, and Clinton directly addressing the woman who asked the question.