Don’t miss out. Stay Informed. Get EcoWatch’s Top News of the Day.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton sparred over gun control, Obamacare, taxes, Wall Street reform and their vision of how far government should go to help Americans in their final debate before 2016’s voting starts in Iowa.
Their responses—with Sanders emphasizing bigger themes and systemic corruption that must be challenged and Clinton emphasizing progress comes from pushing the existing system toward better results—showed why they are virtually tied in the opening states that will caucus and cast ballots for the Democratic Party’s nominee.
— SIPRI (@SIPRIorg) January 18, 2016
The debate also featured Martin O’Malley, who lags far behind the pair but attacked Clinton for pandering to African-Americans by siding with Barack Obama to minimize her Wall Street ties—saying she stood by the president’s achievements—at a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Now you bring up President Obama here in South Carolina in defense of the fact of your cozy relationship with Wall Street,” he said. “In an earlier debate, I heard you bring up even the 9/11 victims to defend it.”
But the real action and tension on Sunday night was between Sanders and Clinton. The debate was the first held in the South, where polls have repeatedly found that Clinton has a lead among African-Americans. That fact was reenforced by their opening statements where they both spoke of personal ties to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his quest for racial and economic justice.
“I … remember that he spent the last day of his life in Memphis, fighting for dignity and higher pay for working people,” Clinton said.
“This campaign is about a political revolution to not only elect a president, but to transform this country,” Sanders said.
First Clash: Gun Control
The sparring started when the debate moderator asked Sanders about Clinton’s attack last week that called him “a pretty reliable vote for the gun lobby.”
“Well, I think Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous. I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA,” he replied, reciting where he’s opposed military-style weapons, supported background checks and President Obama’s recent executive actions to expand and enhance gun control enforcement. “We have seen in this city a horrendous tragedy of a crazed person praying with people and then coming up and shooting nine people. This should not be a political issue.”
When her turn came, Clinton replied that Sanders “has voted with the NRA, with the gun lobby numerous times. He voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for what we call the Charleston loophole. He voted for immunity for gun manufacturers … Let’s not forget what this is about, 90 people a day die from gun violence in this country.”
Sanders did not respond further after Clinton’s remarks, but he did say earlier that he would reconsider the law granting immunity to gun makers—even though it had provisions outlawing some ammunition that the police wanted. He also said that coming from a rural state with few gun controls that he could bridge the gap between sportsmen and gun control proponents.
Style Contrast: Criminal Justice Reform
When the topic turned to racial biases in policing, both Sanders and Clinton agreed there was systemic racism in the criminal justice system that needed to be taken seriously and fundamentally addressed. But the way that Clinton answered seemed to register more deeply with the debate audience, as it more personally acknowledged victimization in communities of color, whereas Sanders’ reply was a bit more cerebral.
“That requires a very clear agenda for retraining police officers, looking at ways to end racial profiling, finding more ways to bring the disparities that stalk our country into high relief,” she said. “One out of three African-American men may well end up going to prison. I want people here to think what we would be doing if it was one out of three white men.”
“Let me respond to what the secretary said,” Sanders said. “We have a criminal justice system which is broken. Who in America is satisfied that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China? Disproportionately African American and Latino. Who is satisfied that 51 percent of African American young people are either unemployed or underemployed? Who is satisfied that millions of people have police records for possessing marijuana when the CEO’s of Wall Street companies who destroyed our economy have no police records?”
In further questioning, Sanders repeated his past statements that anyone killed by a police officer should trigger a federal Department of Justice investigation, that police officers must be held accountable for unnecessary violence, that police departments need to be de-militarized and that “we have to got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve.”
Pages: 1 • 2