Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s level of shot firing has steadily increased over the past month. So, the CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn was their shoutiest encounter yet as both worked to capture New York. Sanders called Clinton out on many issues including his favorite subjects, Wall Street ties and Super PACs. Clinton persisted in refusing to release the transcripts from her Wall Street speeches (this prompted a related hashtag on Twitter), and Sanders continued to criticize her for accepting special interest funds. They made no more progress on these topics than they did at the Flint, Michigan, and Miami, Florida, debates, so we’ll bypass a dive into those subjects here. Here’s a quick summary of the evening before we dig in further.
On some issues — such as universal health care, student loans, and sustainable energy — Clinton and Sanders felt similarly, but couldn’t agree whose program is more economically sound. However, the candidates engaged in many honest-to-god disagreements. Sanders froze up during a gun control discussion, but Clinton faltered on several subjects. He called her out for a “racist” term she used in the 1990s and criticized her wishy-washy minimum wage stance and foreign policy as Secretary of State. They shouted to the point where Wolf Blitzer had to beg them to stop, and it’s no wonder this happened. Below, Blitzer began the evening in an optimal fashion.
Sanders Questions Clinton’s Presidential Judgment
During a recent Philly rally, Sanders whipped out a long list of reasons why he feels Clinton isn’t qualified to be president. Blitzer asked Sanders to elaborate, he explained that, sure, Clinton has “the experience and the intelligence” to lead a country. However, “I do question her judgment. I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq.” From there, Sanders launched into how Clinton supported the Panama Trade Agreement, which cost the United States scores of jobs and helped set the stage for the Panama Papers. He also ripped into her campaign finance dealings again. Naturally, she had a fiery response.
Sanders Calls Clinton “Confused” Over Minimum Wage
This was perhaps the most pronounced shouting match of the evening. The two argued on how to increase the minimum wage, which they’re both in favor of doing. Sanders would like to go straight to $15 per hour, and Clinton would like to increase federal minimum wage to $12 per hour, but encourage states to go higher. Sanders, however, was not impressed at how Clinton had flip flopped on the issue and how she kept claiming to “fight for 15,” yet she clearly wasn’t willing to take a solid stance. In other words, he made a lot of noises about Clinton hypocrisy. A lot of shouting occurred, Clinton refused to let Sanders talk, and then this happened:
BLITZER: If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.
BLITZER: So please…
SANDERS: I will…
BLITZER: … don’t talk over each other.
SANDERS: I believe I was…
[Both continue to try and shout at the same time.]
BLITZER: Go ahead.
SANDERS: — responding.
Sanders Criticizes Clinton’s Use Of “Super-Predator”
Earlier this week at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Sanders called out Hillary’s use of the term “super-predator.” This was related to her support of the 1996 crime bill, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which Bill Clinton signed into law. Blitzer asked Sanders to explain his beef, and the Vermont senator replied, “Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term.” Clinton conceded, “Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.”
Sanders wasn’t satisfied with this apology, for kind words don’t negate a bill that has caused catastrophic, disproportionate incarceration of minorities. Far too many inmates have received long sentences as non-violent, low-level offenders. Clinton blamed the states for hopping on the bandwagon once “the federal government did what it did.” She said, “I’m sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that [they] have had a very unfortunate impact on people’s lives.” Sanders used the opportunity to call for removing harsh (or any) sentences for marijuana offenses.
Sanders Holds Clinton Responsible For Dropping Libya
President Obama once admitted his worst mistake was not preparing the Libyan people after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. By extension, Sanders has held Clinton equally responsible for her actions as Secretary of State. He believes that pushing regime change created optimal conditions for ISIS to flourish. He also thinks destroying ISIS should take top priority over overthrowing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Sanders’ point is that Clinton acted awfully hawkish by instigating regime change and leaving a political vacuum. This all ties in with Sanders questioning Clinton’s judgment and her role in not only letting down countries like Libya, but also pulling the United States into “perpetual warfare.”
Sanders’ One Difficult Moment Involved Gun Control
Blitzer asked Clinton whether she was truly trying to hold Sanders responsible for Vermont guns flowing across the New York border. In response, she brought up Sanders’ recent interview with the New York Daily News, which caused a backlash when he said gun manufacturers and dealers should not be held responsible for how people use guns. This brought up an uncomfortable discussion of how Sandy Hook families grew upset with Sanders. He persisted in his view — while pointing out his D- voting record with the NRA — at how he refused to promote a slippery slope for rural gun shop owners to be sued while operating in a legal manner.
Clinton essentially called Sanders out for wanting to hold Wall Street accountable without holding gun manufacturers to the same level. Sanders didn’t bite and still did not deliver a requested apology to Sandy Hook families. He’s holding firm in his belief that assault weapons should be banned, but the legal sale of guns should not be punished.
Who won this debate? The fine people of New York will decide next Tuesday.