Democrats Meet in Iowa for Final Debate Before the Caucuses

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 07.49.20MAGGIE HABERMAN

Monday, January 25, 2016

Good Monday morning. Here we go, the final sprint toward actual voting. Each party has debates this week to allow the candidates to make their final arguments, and the Democrats are up first in a race that has grown increasingly argumentative.

It is the final seven days before the Iowa caucuses, and more than a dozen candidates from both parties will be crisscrossing the state — beginning with a town-hall-style forum featuring the Democratic hopefuls on Monday night.

The two-hour event, hosted by CNN, will be the last chance to see the three Democratic presidential candidates alongside one another before votes are cast. Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin OMalley will field questions as the primary race has become contentious.

Mr. Sanders has said that Mrs. Clinton lacks enthusiasm (with the implicit contrast being that he has it). Mrs. Clinton has continued presenting herself as a pragmatist. Both packed events into their schedules over the weekend in an effort to demonstrate stamina and excitement.

The candidates found themselves answering questions about Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is considering a presidential run of his own as an independent, with the most likely scenario being if Mr. Sanders and a candidate like Donald J. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas win their parties’ nominations.

On the Republican side, Mr. Trump will begin the week not in Iowa but in New Hampshire. His chief competitor at the moment, Mr. Cruz, will remain in Iowa.