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Clinton tacks to left ahead of first debate

clintonLAS VEGAS--Hillary Clinton has veered hard to the left ahead of Tuesday's first Democratic presidential debate, hoping to inoculate herself from criticism by rival Bernie Sanders and woo the union members and liberal activists who have been slow to embrace her.
  But in a Democratic race so far featuring few political attacks or policy clashes, Clinton's move to protect her left flank on issues like the Asian trade pact and Keystone oil pipeline could open the door during the debate to questions about her sincerity and to charges of flip-flopping.
  Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, and Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who is her prime challenger, will take part in the first of six scheduled debates in the race to be the party's nominee in the November 2016 presidential election. Programming of the event on CNN starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT but the debate itself begins at 9 p.m.
  The two main candidates will be joined by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and former U.S. Senator James Webb of Virginia. The showdown will give Sanders his first broad national exposure and offer Clinton a chance to ease the concerns some Democrats have about her.
  After two raucous Republican debates that drew big television audiences attracted by the fireworks generated by front-runner Donald Trump, the Democratic encounter in Las Vegas is likely to be a tamer affair. Fifty-seven percent of registered voters, and 45 percent of Democrats, are not aware of the debate, at the Wynn Hotel, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
  The televised encounter comes at a critical time for Clinton, whose once overwhelming lead among Democrats in polls has slipped amid questions about her use of a private email server instead of a government account when she was secretary of state. In addition, she faces the threat that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race - something he has been increasingly urged to do as Clinton's lead falters.

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