UPDATE: 11:06 p.m. EDT — Next up were closing statements. Bernie Sanders ended the night by talking about his family's history, repeating his usual points and saying he would create "a government that works for all of us not just the 1 percent."

Chants of "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" broke out after Sanders' closing statement.

Hillary Clinton started her closing statement by thanking the people of New York for taking a chance on her when they elected her their U.S. senator. "We took on the challenges of 9/11 together," she said, recalling her work standing up to Republicans under former President George W. Bush.

She said she wants to take "those New York values" to the White House, and emphasized that she wants to tackle barriers beyond economic issues such as racial barriers, disability barriers and her usual list.

And that's the end of what was a very contentious debate. 













UPDATE: 10:59 p.m. EDT — Hillary Clinton said she is more electable than Sanders, emphasizing that she has won more votes and has a broad-based coalition. She also called for party unity again.

Dana Bash asked Bernie Sanders if he would fight on the convention floor this summer if neither candidate ends the primary season with a majority of the delegates.

“I think we’re going to win this nomination, to tell you the truth,” Sanders responded.

Clinton added that she has a lead in pledged delegates too and she will work in the next six states.

UPDATE: 10:53 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders was asked if he is a Democrat and why he has not raised more money for the party.

"I have written letters that have raised just a, if i may use the word, ‘yuge’ amount of money," he said.

Clinton called for party unity, saying "I applaud all of those who are applauding you, Senator Sanders."




By the way, the New York Post endorsed Donald Trump for president tonight.


UPDATE: 10:49 p.m. EDT — On the topic of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Hillary Clinton said the Republicans in the Senate need to review the nomination.

Bernie Sanders agreed that the Republicans' actions were an "outrage" and said he would ask Obama to withdraw his nomination so that Sanders could choose someone who he knows would overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision on campaign financing.

Clinton responded by saying she would only nominate judges who believe that the 1973 Roe v Wade abortion decision is settled law and Citizen’s United should be overturned. She also pointed out that the Democrats have had eight debates before this one without a question about a woman's right to choose, which received big applause.



UPDATE: 10: 44 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had another intense spat over Social Security, with Sanders questioning Clinton's position. 

“So you are finally in favor of lifting the cap on taxable income and extending and expanding social security?” Sanders said. “If that is the case, welcome onboard. I am glad you are here.”

Clinton responded by saying “I have said yes,” but seemed noncommital. 

UPDATE: 10:36 p.m. EDT — After the second commercial break, the moderators ask Bernie Sanders about his plans to implement universal healthcare and free college tuition. 

Sanders repeats his usual line that the U.S. is the only country of its kind without universal healthcare. “I am determined to transfer that money back to the working families of this country,” he said.

Hillary Clinton responded by saying, “I absolutely agree with the diagnosis.” She referenced her past support for universal healthcare and emphasized that she would support it but wants to be realistic.

She added that Sanders' policies would be dangerous for the country. "There is no doubt by those who have analyzed it … that it would pose an incredible burden not just on the budget but for individuals," she said.

UPDATE: 10:28 p.m. EDT — When it came to Hillary Clinton's turn to talk about Israel, she emphasized her experience and said she negotiated peace between Israel and Hamas in 2012. "They do not seek these kinds of attacks," she said.

“After they had taken these assaults ... I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat. Terrorist attack, rockets... you have a right to defend yourself,” Clinton said. 

Bernie Sanders brought up Clinton's March 21 speech to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), saying that she did not mention the need of Palestinians. 

“There comes a time if we are going to pursue justice and peace that we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time,” Sanders said to huge applause.

Clinton's response: “Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right but it is a difficult position.”


UPDATE: 10:22 p.m. EDT — Then on to Israel. This is an issue that has been brewing this week after Bernie Sanders hired a Jewish outreach director who is critical of Israel's politics and then suspended her just hours before Thursday's debate. 

Sanders said he stands by his comments that Israel's response in the 2014 war with Gaza was “disproportionate.”

“Of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves but to live in peace and security,” Sanders said. 

“Israel... has every right to destroy terrorism. But in Gaza there were 10,000 wounded civilians and 1,500 killed. Was that a disproportionate attack? The answer is I believe it was. As somebody who is 100 percent pro-Israel. In the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace ... we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity,” Sanders added.

UPDATE: 10:14 p.m. EDT — The moderators moved on to foreign policy, asking Hillary Clinton about Libya. President Barack Obama recently said that managing the political situation in Libya was his biggest failure as president, so they ask if that failure falls on Clinton too.

“I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Gadhafi’s demise,” Clinton said. But she added that the U.S. failed to provide enough security afterward.

Bernie Sanders said Clinton “led the effort” to push for regime change in Libya and tied this to the type of thinking that got the U.S. involved in Iraq.

Clinton then reminds Sanders that he voted for approaching the U.N. Security Council on the question of Libya. He responded that his vote to support Libya transitioning to democracy was different from pushing for regime change.


UPDATE: 10:06 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders said that the U.S. needs to take bigger action on climate change and accused Hillary Clinton of “incrementalism.” 

“Those little steps are not enough,” he said.

Clinton responded that she has “laid out a set of actions” and argued that her plan would get the country there faster “without tying us up into political knots.”

Also, make sure to follow International Business Times on Twitter tonight throughout the debate for great tweets and analysis.

UPDATE 10 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders hits Hillary Clinton on fracking, which is a big issue in New York. He has taken a stronger stance on banning fracking than she has. 

Clinton accused Sanders of criticizing President Barack Obama's efforts on climate change.

"I am getting a little bit concerned here,"Clinton said. "I really believe the president has done an incredible job against great odds" and he deserves credit. 

She added that her previous support for fracking while she was secretary of state was a way to move away from coal. “I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do,” Clinton said. Fracking, she said, represents a bridge from coal to sustainable energy.

UPDATE: 9:57 p.m. EDT — The first question after the commercial break is on the environment and climate change. Hillary Clinton said she has tried to reduce subsidies to subsidies to big oil companies, while Bernie Sanders accused the former secretary of state of being tied up with the fossil fuel industry.

"The lobbyists thought she was a pretty good bet on this issue," Sanders said.

UPDATE: 9:48 p.m. EDT — Hillary Clinton was asked about the 1994 crime bill that her husband Bill Clinton signed during his time in the White House and awkwardly defended last week. She said there were some positives to it, but acknowledged that it has done harm now. 

"I'm sorry for the consequences that were unintended and have had a very unfortunate impact on people's lives," Clinton said. She added that Bernie Sanders voted for the bill.

She also emphasized that she wants white people to recognize racism today. "I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism. It’s in employment, it’s in housing, but it’s in the criminal justice system also," Clinton said.

The moderators then asked Sanders about why he called out Clinton for using the term “super-predator” to refer to those criminals targeted by the 1994 bill.

"Because it was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term," he said to a big round of cheers.

UPDATE: 9:39 p.m. EDT — Next up: guns. This is one of Bernie Sanders' weaker issues and Hillary Clinton tried to hit him on it right out of the gate. The moderators asked Clinton if she blamed Sanders and Vermont for New York's gun violence — something her campaign has implied in the past.

“Of course not,” Clinton said. “This is a serious difference between us.”

Sanders chuckled, and Clinton responded: “This is not a laughing matter,” she said.

The Vermont senator made the argument that he’d be best on the issue of gun control because he his state is not one known for gun control but he favors it. Therefore, he knows both sides of the issue, he said.

 Clinton responded by saying that Sanders has been a "very reliable supporter of the NRA.” and saying “he voted against the Brady bill five times because it had waiting periods in it.”

Sanders also defended his opposition to gun manufacturer liability.

UPDATE: 9:33 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a tense back and forth over the federal minimum wage. When Clinton is asked why she doesn't support a $15 per hour minimum wage, she said she would sign a $15 federal minimum wage bill as president.

But Sanders shot back, arguing that Clinton called for a $12 minimum wage at the start of the campaign. "History is outpacing Secretary Clinton," Sanders said.

"To suddenly announce now that you are for $15, I don't think is quite accurate," Sanders added. 

When both candidates try to yell over each other, Wolf Blitzer interjected: “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.”

UPDATE 9:27 p.m. EDT — Hillary Clinton was asked why she will not release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs.

“I did stand up to the banks. I did make it clear that their behavior would not be excused," Clinton said. "If you’re going to look at the problems that actually caused the great recession, you’ve got to looks at the full picture.”

But CNN moderator Dana Bash followed up, and Clinton refuses to answer the question.

“There are certain expectations when you run for president. This is a new one ...  but I will tell you this, there is a longstanding expectation that everybody running release their tax returns,” Clinton said.

“Let’s set the same standard for everybody. When everybody does it, I will do it, thank you,” she added.

Bernie Sanders said he will release his tax returns, too, promising to release his returns from 2014 on Friday.

UPDATE 9:20 p.m. EDT — The moderators asked Bernie Sanders if he could name one decision Hillary Clinton has made that was influenced by her donations from super PACs. His response was that she gave speeches to Goldman Sachs after the 2008 financial crash instead of breaking up big banks. 

"The proper response in my view is we should break them up and that's what my legislation does," Sanders said. 

Clinton responded by saying that Sanders did not give a true example. "He cannot come up with any example because there is no example," Clinton said.

UPDATE: 9:15 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders is asked why he would ask big banks to break themselves up, which he mentioned during his interview with the New York Daily News.

"I don’t need Dodd-Frank to tell me” the banks are too big to fail, he said. The banks are “based on fraudulent principles.”

When the moderators pressed him on how involved the banks would be in breaking them up, he said, "the banks themselves can figure out what they want to sell off. I don’t believe it’s appropriate for the department of treasury to make those decisions.”

UPDATE: 9:08 p.m. EDT — The first question of the night was about Bernie Sanders' comments that Hillary Clinton was not qualified to be president of the United States. While he walked back those comments, he received harsh criticism from Clinton's campaign after making them.

Sanders said Thursday night that while Clinton does have the intelligence and experience to be president, "I do question her judgment."

Clinton responded by saying that Sanders' attack would mean he also questions President Barack Obama's judgment. "Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I've been called a lot of things in my life, that was a first," she said.

She added that New Yorkers thought she was qualified enough to elect her to the Senate and Obama thought she was quailfied enough to be secretary of state.


UPDATE: 9:03 p.m. EDT — Bernie Sanders started his opening statement by looking back on how far his campaign has come. He said he is doing well because “We’re doing something very radical: we’re telling the American people the truth.”

Clinton, on the other hand, focused on her love for New York and said she wants to knock down barriers and set "big bold progressive goals for America."

UPDATE: 9 p.m. EDT — The debate started right on time at 9 p.m. Thursday, and the crowd in the room sounded fairly loud when the two candidates were introduced.


UPDATE: 8:50 p.m. EDT — The debate is set to start in just a few minutes, and people in the debate hall are getting excited for the Brooklyn showdown. After all, this is the first year in a long time that the New York primary has mattered at all, and this year it could have a big effect.




UPDATE: 8: 30 p.m. EDT — Many supporters of both Democratic candidates gathered in Brooklyn hours ahead of the Democratic debate Thursday night. There were also a number of celebrity surrogates and prominent politician supporters spotted at the debate, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Hillary Clinton backer, and actress Rosario Dawson, a supporter of Bernie Sanders.



Original story:

The debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Thursday evening is the last chance for the Democratic presidential candidates to face off ahead of the important New York primary on Tuesday.

The event will begin at 9 p.m. EDT on CNN. 

It comes as the two have been intensely campaigning in the Empire State over the past few weeks. Coming off a seven-state winning streak, Sanders has been steadily gaining momentum, but Clinton remains far ahead in the delegate count.

Both candidates have ties to New York — Sanders was born there and Clinton served as one of the state’s U.S. senators for eight years — but Clinton has led polling in the state for months. The former secretary of state has spent her time appealing to upstate voters who helped her win her Senate seat in 2000 and shoring up her support among minority voters in New York City. Clinton has consistently performed much better than Sanders among voters of color, but Sanders has also been appealing to New York voters by criticizing Clinton on state-specific policy issues such as Wall Street and fracking.

Ahead of Thursday’s debate, Sanders held an enormous rally in Washington Square Park Wednesday evening, complete with appearances from filmmaker Spike Lee, actress Rosario Dawson, bands Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors as well as prominent activists. While Sanders has seen strong enthusiasm from supporters at these kinds of rallies, New York’s closed primary system (voters had to register as Democrats by last fall to vote in Tuesday’s election) could prove difficult for the Vermont senator. He typically does well among independents, who will not be able to participate, and he likely needs a win in New York to put him within striking distance of Clinton in terms of delegates.

As the race in New York has heated up, the Sanders campaign has increased its criticism of the Democratic primary process, saying the superdelegate system is unfair to regular voters. Sanders and Clinton have also clashed over gun control legislation — a topic that is likely to come up Thursday because a court ruled earlier in the day that Sandy Hook families could pursue their liability suit against manufacturers and sellers of the weapons used in the Connecticut elementary school massacre. Sanders has said that victims of gun violence should not be able to sue gun manufacturers. 

Check back here during the debate for live updates with the best Twitter reactions, memes and analysis.