Media Advisory: WFU Expert: Clinton/Sanders Democratic Debate

When Bernie Sanders debates Hillary Clinton on Thursday night, will it matter? David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University, says probably not “unless someone makes a gaffe.”

“At least it will now just be the two of them, so the choice will be clear. But I think tone, rather than detail, will be important on Thursday. They will clash on details, of course, but both are tacking hard-left, so the spaces between them will be tiny. Hillary will want to stretch them (guns, healthcare, foreign policy experience).”

Coates says the wrong tone could have consequences beyond the primaries: “Watch the tone of their exchanges: if they are angry/hostile to each other, the Democrats may pay a high price in November. The Democratic Party needs to stay united and pumped up as it chooses its candidate. Bitter in-fighting will erode both those vital things.”

Coates can comment on the Democratic presidential candidates and the Democratic Party platform for the election. He is the author of the 2014 book, “America in the Shadow of Empires,” which calls for a renewed national conversation about the nature of U.S. foreign policy and its domestic consequences. He is also the author of numerous other books, articles and blog posts on politics, history and economics, including “Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments” and “Making the Progressive Case: Towards a Stronger U.S. Economy.” More about Coates and a complete list of recent blogs and publications can be found at

Looking for comment on other election-related topics? Visit Wake Forest’s Election 2016 faculty experts guide.


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Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. Learn more about Wake Forest at

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