Will Sanders Use 'Nuclear Option' in 3rd Debate?
And five other things to look for Saturday night
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2015 11:30 AM CST
The third Democratic debate takes place Saturday night in New Hampshire.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(Newser) – The third Democratic presidential debate is being held Saturday night in New Hampshire. And while the Dem debates have been less dramatic than their Republican counterparts, a number of experts think that could change Saturday. Here are six things to watch when the prospective nominees (and Martin O'Malley) take the stage:

  1. Bernie Sanders' "nuclear option": Slate thinks it's time for Sanders to really attack Hillary Clinton, if only for the headlines. "Doing that would break his campaign promise and go against his policy-above-politics mission statement—but it would also end his coverage drought."
  2. Can Clinton stay cool?: Everything is breaking Clinton's way, Reuters reports. All she needs to do is avoid being drawn into a fight with Sanders. "She'll be fine," a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair says. "She's just going to deliver her message and stay on point."
  3. Lessons from Trump: Sanders could look to the GOP in his search for a much-needed "big moment," according to the Los Angeles Times. "He will be under pressure to transform what has proved to be a staid platform this election season into something more akin to what the Republican debates have been: unpredictable, attention-grabbing."
  4. "Controversy-free" Clinton: Fox News reports Clinton should tread carefully since the majority of viewers for a pre-Christmas Saturday night debate are likely to be Republican operatives taking notes for the general election. "Is there an opening, a vulnerability, or a faux pas that...comes back to haunt her next year?"
  5. Sanders against the establishment: The debate could be colored by Friday's squabble between Sanders and the DNC, according to the Orange County Register. "Sanders and O’Malley have accused the DNC for months of eagerly, if quietly, trying to make it easier for Clinton to secure the nomination. The senator will have to determine how far he’s willing to go in his criticism of Clinton now."
  6. O'Malley who?: The Wall Street Journal reports the low-polling O'Malley just needs to remind viewers why he's taking up their time. "Mr. O’Malley’s key challenge will be to justify his continued presence in the Democratic presidential race."