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Democratic presidential candidates ready to debate in Las Vegas

PHOENIX — After two heated GOP presidential debates, it’s the Democrats’ turn in front of a nationwide audience.

The first of six scheduled debates was set for Tuesday night from Las Vegas and hosted by CNN.

Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Arizona time.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee will be participating.

KTAR political expert Mike O’Neil said Clinton has found an issue where she can outflank hard-charging Bernie Sanders on the left — gun control.

“He’s had a much more moderate position on that coming from a rural state. I would expect her to play to the Democratic base on that issue,” O’Neil said.

In turn, he expected Sanders to possibly showcase the issue of economic inequality by attempting to paint Clinton as a captive of Wall Street.

O’Neil said he’ll be watching for a possible breakout moment from Webb, O’Malley or Chafee.

“All of them are polling at about 1 percent or less. They get to make their case. Somebody might get some momentum out of it.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who has not even decided if will run, could join the group onstage; CNN has already said he could wait until the day of the debate to decide.

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