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Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Agree To Debate Ahead Of New York Primary


Wisconsin voters could have a big say in the presidential contest tomorrow. In the Republic race, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are looking to block Donald Trump from picking up any delegates and throw a hurdle in his plans to lock up the GOP nomination - more on that in a moment. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders' campaign is calling Wisconsin a critical contest. Polls show the race is highly competitive between the Vermont senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. NPR's Tamara Keith is in Milwaukee where Sanders is holding a rally tonight. Hi, Tam.


SHAPIRO: We've just learned the Democratic candidates have added another debate after some squabbling about it. How did this come about?

KEITH: Yes, the great debate over debates is finally over.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

KEITH: And what they've settled on in April 14 in Brooklyn to be hosted by CNN and NY1. They had been going back and forth with strongly worded press released and tweets and various things. At one point, there were as many as seven different dates on the table. The date that was ultimately settled on in April 14, which is also - happens to be the day that Bernie Sanders was supposed to be having a very large rally in New York City.

Well, they've rescheduled that rally for the night before, and Sanders' campaign put out a statement that is pretty strong, saying, quote, we hope the debate will be worth the inconvenience for thousands of New Yorkers who were planning to attend our rally on Thursday but will have to change their schedules to accommodate Secretary Clinton's jam-packed, high-dollar, coast-to-coast schedule of fundraisers all over the country.


KEITH: So - yeah.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, a lot in there. Well, turning back to Wisconsin, where you are, which votes tomorrow, why is the Sanders campaign considering this state to be so very important?

KEITH: Sanders has a narrow path to the nomination at this point. It is a narrow path that is uphill, and it goes straight through Wisconsin. In order for Bernie Sanders to make it to - to get the nomination, he would need to win here and win big and then do that in all of the states that follow.

This is state that's in a demographic sweet spot for him. It's neighboring two other states that he won, and it's also an open primary, which does well - which he does well in. And it's a state with a progressive history, a progressive bend. So Sanders - and recent polls show that he's slightly favored, though it's quite close.

SHAPIRO: Well, what are you hearing from voters you're talking to there in Wisconsin?

KEITH: The people who love Bernie Sanders love Bernie Sanders, and there are a lot of them here in this convention center ballroom. But I have to say, this event was initially scheduled to be in a basketball arena where the Milwaukee Bucks play, and now it's in a ballroom of a convention center. There are a lot of other things going on today, including the opening day of baseball. And it's very cold outside.

They moved it, in part, also to get a little further away from the Donald Trump event that is around the corner and down the block. I like to say that the circus is in town when all these politicians are in a city. Well, it turns out the circus is also in town at a venue...

SHAPIRO: The actual circus.

KEITH: The actual circus located at a venue right between the Sanders event and the Trump event.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Tamara Keith reporting on the Wisconsin Democratic race. Voters head to the polls there tomorrow. Thank you very much, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.