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Clinton, Sanders Square Off In Miami Ahead Of Primaries On Tuesday


Now much of this country's presidential campaign has turned on the relationship Americans want with the rest of the world. Candidates have argued over terrorism, trade and immigration, and last night's Democratic debate was no exception. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders engaged each other intensely after their competition suddenly got more interesting. Here's NPR's Scott Detrow.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Before Sanders' surprising Michigan win, Clinton had been itching to pivot to the November election. But on the debate stage, she was describing the primary this way.


HILLARY CLINTON: This is a marathon, and it's a marathon that can only be carried out by the kind of inclusive campaign that I'm running, a campaign that reaches out to everybody.

DETROW: That clip is courtesy of CNN, which simulcast the debate. The Democrats met in Miami, and the forum was hosted by Univision, along with the Washington Post, so there was a big focus on immigration policies. Moderator Jorge Ramos pressed Clinton on whether she'd promise not to deport immigrant children who are in the country illegally.


JORGE RAMOS: Again, yes or no? Can you promise tonight that you won't deport children? Children who are already here?

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

DETROW: That wasn't enough for Sanders, who criticized Clinton for saying unaccompanied children who came to the United States illegally from Honduras and other Central American countries should have been sent back.


BERNIE SANDERS: Secretary Clinton did not support those children coming into this country. I did. Now I happen to agree with President Obama on many, many issues. I think he's done a great job as president of the United States. He is wrong on this issue of deportation.

DETROW: Clinton and Sanders also sparred over a failed 2007 immigration overhaul, which Sanders voted against. But when it came to where Republican front runner Donald Trump stands on immigration, the two Democrats were on the same page. Clinton mocked Trump's plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. She called it a fantasy. Sanders blasted calls by Trump and other Republicans to deport every immigrant who's in the country in the country illegally.


SANDERS: This idea of suddenly one day, or maybe a night, rounding up 11 million people and taking them outside of this country is a vulgar, absurd idea that I would hope very few people in America support.

DETROW: Clinton has won the support of about two-thirds of Latino voters so far this year, according to exit polls. Nearly a quarter of Floridians are Latino, and nearly 2 million of them are registered to vote. While Florida's Cuban community has typically leaned Republican, more and more Latinos have registered as Democrats in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center. The debate wasn't all about immigration, though. As he's been doing for months, Sanders criticized Clinton for reaping campaign donations from Wall Street.


SANDERS: Now the secretary says it doesn't influence her. Well, that's what every politician says who gets money from special interests.


DETROW: And Clinton and Sanders once again tussled over health care. Sanders wants a Medicare-for-all system. Clinton says that's just not realistic.


CLINTON: I do believe in universal coverage. Remember, I fought for it 25 years ago. I believe in it.


CLINTON: And I know that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are now at 90 percent of universal coverage. I will build on the Affordable Care Act.

DETROW: Next week, voters head to the polls in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and two other states. Clinton has built a big lead over Sanders when it comes to pledged delegates, but Sanders has notched his share of wins in recent weeks, too. At one point, Clinton conceded that for her, campaigning isn't easy.


CLINTON: I am not a natural politician - in case you haven't noticed - like my husband or President Obama, 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.

DETROW: That's the case Clinton will be making in Florida and elsewhere as she and Sanders look forward to the next big day on the primary calendar. Scott Detrow, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

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