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After data breach fight, Clinton and Sanders face off at U.S. Democratic debate

MANCHESTER, N.H. - U.S. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders square off in a potentially combative debate on Saturday, one day after their presidential campaigns erupted in a bitter feud over an improper breach of Clin...

 

MANCHESTER, N.H.  - U.S. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders square off in a potentially combative debate on Saturday, one day after their presidential campaigns erupted in a bitter feud over an improper breach of Clinton voter files by a Sanders staffer.

The rising tension at the debate between two rivals who have largely refrained from attacking each other comes at a crucial moment for Sanders, who is trying to erase Clinton's lead in the November 2016 Democratic White House race just six weeks before the first nominating contest in Iowa.

On Friday, Sanders filed a lawsuit to force the Democratic National Committee to restore access to his voter files, which the DNC had blocked after the Sanders campaign improperly accessed files generated by the Clinton campaign. The DNC and Sanders reached a late-night deal restoring access for Sanders.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver accused the DNC of working to protect Clinton, pointing to the party's limited debates at low-viewership periods like Saturday nights as another example. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook accused the Sanders campaign of stealing parts of its "strategic road map" for voter turnout in the primary battle.

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The moderators of the ABC News debate will no doubt try to get the two candidates to renew that fight on the stage at the debate, where Sanders already had signaled his intention to turn up the heat on Clinton on foreign policy issues.

The debate is the party's first since the deadly Dec. 2 attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Sanders also is eager to explore his differences with the former secretary of state on issues like her support for a no-fly zone in Syria and her 2011 advocacy for regime change in Libya, his campaign said.

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