On Thursday evening, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton squared off for the PBS Democratic Debate in Milwaukee. This debate follows Sanders taking 60 percent and claiming victory in the New Hampshire primary, which was a far cry from the “virtual tie” and coin tosses of the Iowa Caucus. From here, they’ll head to the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20 while the Republicans (who will debate this Saturday on CBS) focus on their South Carolina primary.
At this debate, the two Democratic candidates didn’t enter into a shouting match (like they did ahead of New Hampshire), but Sanders did grow exasperated a few times. At one point, he accused Clinton of “a low blow” while they discussed jobs, and he shut down Clinton’s claims that she would be better for the economy: “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet.” The two dug into a variety of issues, including universal health care, immigration, Wall Street, minimum wage, Super PACs, and legalization of marijuana (Bern is all for pot). Much of this information was a rehash of prior debates and interviews, but Clinton and Sanders went harder than they previously have on the subject of racial inequality.
That subject came up with a question about the high incarceration rate among black males. Sanders called this one of the “greatest tragedies” of America, for any given member of this demographic “stands a one-in-four chance” of landing in jail. Sanders described this reality as “unspeakable” and evidence that the criminal-justice system is broken and in need of “radical reform.” Sanders pointed toward equal offender rates, but sentences that are anything but equal. He moved on to police corruption and how “unarmed people, often African-Americans” are killed by police officers. Clinton “completely agreed” with Sanders on all of these points. Likewise, he agreed with her on the “very bad idea” of mandatory sentences. Both agree that systemic racism (which not only carries criminal, but heavy financial implications) is an ongoing issue in need of progress.