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Democratic debate 2015: start time, schedule, and what to expect

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will face off.

The next Democratic debate is expected to kick off around 8:30 pm Eastern. It will take place at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and will air on ABC.

This debate — which will feature Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley — will be the third of just six overall that Democrats are planning. And, like the most recent debate and the next scheduled one, it will take place on the weekend — when many fewer people are expected to watch.

After this, there will be just one more debate before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries begin the actual voting in February 2016. So tune in now, before it's too late.

What to expect at the third Democratic debate

Compared with the nonstop media circus of the Republican nomination contest, the Democratic race has gotten little attention of late. And the Democratic National Committee's decision to schedule this debate on the Saturday before Christmas was likely an attempt to make sure it stays that way, and to ease Hillary Clinton's path to the nomination.

Though Donald Trump has been dominating national media headlines and Clinton remains the Democratic favorite, Bernie Sanders has been continuing to campaign hard in the early states. He's been relentlessly repeating his economics-focused message, which helped elevate him to the lead in New Hampshire (where tonight's debate will take place) back in August.

But with terrorism in the news after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, expect Sanders to devote more emphasis to how he differs from Clinton on foreign affairs. "I think maybe there’ll be more focus on differences of opinion between Secretary Clinton and myself on foreign policy," Sanders told the New Hampshire Union Leader's Dan Tuohy earlier this week.

It's an important topic, because this is an area where the contenders seriously differ. Hillary Clinton's record suggests that she's genuinely more hawkish than most other Democrats — that is, more willing to support aggressive intervention abroad. Sanders, though, voted against the war in Iraq in 2002 (unlike Clinton) and has generally been more skeptical of the use of force (though he has endorsed it in certain cases).

The other Democratic candidate, Martin O'Malley, has less of a record on foreign policy, since his background is in Maryland politics. Back in the second debate, he seemed thrilled to talk about refugee policy (arguing that the US should accept 65,000 Syrian refugees with proper screening). He also struck a hawkish tone, saying that "America is best when we are actually standing up to evil in this world." And when Clinton said the fight against ISIS couldn't be "an American fight," O'Malley insisted that it was.

How to watch

When: 8:30 pm Eastern Saturday

Where: Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire

TV: ABC

Online: At ABCNews.go.com, a free live stream will be available

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