Everything You Missed From the Democratic Debate in Miami


One night after Bernie Sanders pulled off a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary, the Democratic presidential candidates tussled in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday for their eighth debate of the cycle.

Hosted by CNN and Univision, the debate spotlighted a wide range of policy issues, including immigration reform, college debt and climate change. With Sanders looking to parlay his shock victory on Tuesday into support in later contests, the forum provided him an opportunity to appeal to the diverse constituency that's helped Clinton build a healthy lead in the delegate count.

We kept track of the most noteworthy moments below.

1. Sanders said he would win over Democratic superdelegates.

When Sanders talked about his optimism about nominating contests going forward, he made what may have been his first mention of the role of superdelegates in determining the Democratic nominee.

Wilfredo Lee/AP

"We are going to continue to do extremely well, win a number of these primaries and convince superdelegates that Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump," he said.

Currently Clinton holds a massive lead among superdelegates, who are party officials, elected members of the Democratic party like members of Congress, and other insiders who are free to line up behind whichever candidate they prefer. Typically they coalesce behind the candidate most closely linked with the party establishment, but in the case that an outsider prevails overwhelmingly, they will traditionally respect popular will (as was the case with Obama in 2008). Sanders needs to get a lot more votes before he can convince them to back him.  — Zeeshan Aleem

2. Jorge Ramos to Clinton: "Will you drop out if you get indicted?"

Pressing Clinton on the federal investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state, co-moderator Ramos asked whether she'd quit the race if leveled with Justice Department charges for mishandling classified information.

Clinton initially sidestepped the question.

"I''m going to give the same answer I've been giving for many months. It wasn't the best choice, she said. "I made a mistake. I was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed. And as I have said and has now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing. And many other people in the government," she continued, referring to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Unsatisfied, Ramos asked Clinton again whether she'd drop out if indicted.

"Oh, for goodness'—that's not going to happen," she said. "I'm not even answering that question."

While few expect the Obama administration's Justice Department to hit Clinton with criminal charges, it's hardly the line of questioning a presidential candidate wants to be facing. — Luke Brinker

3. Clinton on whether Trump is racist: "You don't make America great by getting rid of everything that has made America great."

Asked by co-moderator Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post whether she considered Republican frontrunner Donald Trump a racist, Clinton avoided a direct answer. But in a play on Trump's campaign slogan, Clinton condemned Trump's rhetoric as contrary to what has "made America great."

"I called him out when he was calling Mexicans rapists, when he was engaging in rhetoric that I found deeply offensive. I said basta, and I am pleased that others are also joining in making clear that his rhetoric, his demagoguery, his trafficking in prejudice and paranoia has no place in our political system," Clinton said. "Especially from somebody running for president who couldn't decide whether or not to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke."

"But I will just end by saying this. You don't make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great," Clinton continued.

Pressed on what she made of Trump's "character," Clinton stuck to her script, calling Trump's platform "un-American."

"I think what he has promoted is not at all in keeping with American values, Karen. And I am going to take every opportunity to criticize him, to raise those issues. I'm not going to engage in the kind of language that he uses," she said.

Given the opportunity to weigh in on the question, Sanders blasted Trump as someone "who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults African-Americans," and referred to his promotion of the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

"Nobody has ever asked me for my birth certificate," Sanders said, noting that like Obama, he is the son of an immigrant. "Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin." — Luke Brinker

4. Clinton promised to not deport undocumented children.

Ramos repeatedly pressed Clinton on whether she would "promise you won't deport children who are already here." Clinton said she wouldn't.

"I would not deport children. I do not want to deport family members either," Clinton said. "I want to prioritize who would be deported: violent criminals, people planning terrorist attacks, anybody who threatens us. That's a relatively small universe."

Clinton said that in the recent past when she appeared reluctant to make that promise, it was because the question was broad enough to include children who might be seeking asylum in the U.S., whom she said she'd like to develop better laws for, but a group that's not included in her non-deportation pledge. Her commitment was specific to undocumented children currently in the country.

Sanders made the same pledge to not deport children, but suggested he was more receptive to keeping asylum-seeking children.

"Honduras, and that region of the world, may be the most violent region in our hemisphere ... children fled that part of the world to try, try, try, maybe, meet up with their family members in this country, taking a route that was horrific, trying to start a new life — Secretary Clinton did not support those children coming into this country, I did," Sanders said.  — Zeeshan Aleem

5. A touching moment with a Guatemalan immigrant.

In one of the most touching and intimate moments from the presidential debates in this campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered a question from a Guatemalan woman, Lucia. 

Lucia spoke very somberly and said she had a great pain – "dolor" — that she and her children shared. Because her husband did not have a license, he was deported back to Guatemala three years ago — the last time her and her five children saw the family patriarch.

Read more here. — Mathew Rodriguez

6. Clinton: "I am not a natural politician."

When Tumulty presented Clinton with polling data showing that Americans don't consider the former secretary of state honest and trustworthy, asking what actions may have contributed to that perception, Clinton chalked it up in part to her less-than-preternatural skills as a "natural politician."

"Well, first, Karen, obviously it's painful for me to hear that," Clinton responded. "And I do take responsibility. When you're in public life, even if you believe that it's not an opinion, that you think is a fair responsibility, and I do, and I also have, you know, very much committed to the best of my ability my energies and efforts to helping people."

Depicting herself as a workhorse, not a showhorse, Clinton said she didn't have the same political savvy as the two most recent Democratic presidents.

"I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama," she said, "So I have a view that I just have to do the best I can, get the results I can, make a difference in people's lives and hope that people see that I'm fighting for them and that I can improve conditions economically and other ways that will benefit them and their families." — Luke Brinker

7. The crowd booed Ramos when he asked a question about Benghazi.

When Ramos brought up the 2012 Benghazi attacks that occurred during her tenure as secretary of state — an issue that's typically a Republican talking point —  the crowd wasn't having it:

8. Sanders said he'd provide free college for children of billionaires.

Sanders' was asked about his plan to establish free tuition at public colleges — did he think that Donald Trump's grandchildren or Hillary Clinton's grandchildren should be able to go for free? Sanders saw no problem with the possibility.

Mic/Getty Images

"Absolutely. I don't think they will! But Donald Trump's kids can go to public school right now, I think Secretary Clinton is talking about making community colleges free, they can go to those schools," Sanders said. "The point is we're going to get to Donald Trump by raising taxes on the top 1% and on millionaires and billionaires."  

Sanders' position on higher education is that of a social democrat — it's to be considered a right, and its costs should be shouldered by the government.

"All of our people, in my view, regardless of income, should have a right to get a higher education," Sanders said. "I want children in the third grade to know that if they study hard, no matter what the income of their families ... you will be able to get a college education." — Zeeshan Aleem

9. Clinton: "Excuse me!"

After Sanders had his "Excuse me, I'm talking" moment during Sunday's Democratic debate, Clinton had her own Wednesday night: 

Luke Brinker