Clinton, Sanders to debate amid data breach scandal

Washington: US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will take on rival Bernie Sanders at the third Democratic debate, amid accusations that a data breach was carried out by his camp.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) temporarily suspended the Sanders campaign’s access to a key voter database after at least one of its staffers took advantage of a computer glitch to peek at Clinton voter data.

The debate, which also includes former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — who polls far behind his two rivals — will be held at 8:00 pm local time (0100 GMT today) in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Hosted by television network ABC, the occasion marks the first debate since the deadly attacks on San Bernardino, California, which killed 14 people.

National security and foreign affairs are expected to dominate the evening — both of which are weak points for Sanders, who is more comfortable talking about economic inequality and financial abuse, topics that are the cornerstones of his campaign.

Before the data breach the week had gone well for Sanders, who broke a record by reaching two million mostly small donations. No Democratic or Republican presidential candidate has ever received so many contributions at this stage in the race.

Clinton, who has raised much more money than Sanders, has depended on large checks from big donors.

Sanders on Thursday also received his biggest labor endorsement to date from the 700,000 member Communications Workers of America (CWA).

But with security taking center stage at the debate, Clinton benefits from the four years she spent as US secretary of state (2009-2013).

Clinton reassured voters in a speech at Minneapolis on Tuesday that she would destroy the Islamic State group but not launch a ground war in the Middle East. She also highlighted the differences with her Republican foes, notably front runner Donald Trump and his incendiary statements.

Sanders, however, is likely remind viewers of Clinton’s 2002 vote when she was New York senator authorizing president George W. Bush’s use of military force in Iraq.

In national polls among Democrats, Sanders has 31 percent support, a number that has remained constant since early November. Clinton’s support in the mid-50s.