Hillary Clinton ferociously went after Bernie Sanders in tonight’s debate as disloyal to the president as both Democrats tried to woo African-Americans, a demographic group that could make or break their bids in upcoming states.
Toward the end of the evening, Clinton tried to seal the deal by bringing up a remarks that Sanders made in an MSNBC interview about Obama’s failure to close the ‘presidential leadership gap.’
She pointed out it’s not the first time Sanders has savaged the president and said, that ‘I expect from Republicans. I do not expect it from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.’
‘Madame secretary, that is a low blow,’ Sanders replied. ‘I have worked with President Obama for the last 7 years.’
Hillary Clinton ferociously went after Bernie Sanders in tonight’s debate as disloyal to the president as both Democrats tried to woo African Americans, a demographic group that could make or break their bids in upcoming states
She pointed out it’s not the first time Sanders has savaged the president and said, that ‘I expect from Republicans. I do not expect it from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama’
Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wave as they arrive on stage before of the start of the PBS NewsHour debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
And getting the final word in Sanders told her: ‘One of us ran against Barack Obama, I was not that candidate.’
And then it was time for closing statements and the debate was over.
It was big finish for the two-hour debate that often lacked fireworks between the two Democratic candidates and was heavy on minority outreach.
Clinton and Sanders both laid out plans to improve the criminal justice system and bring economic prosperity to minority communities.
It was Clinton’s unprompted attack on Sanders over his differences with the nation’s first black president that threatened to do the most damage to Sanders’ surging campaign, however.
As the former secretary of state made a last-ditch effort to sabotage his support Sanders guffawed and let out groans of disbelief.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
‘Last I heard we lived in a democratic society. Last I heard, a United States senator had the right to disagree with the president, including a president who has done such an extraordinary job,’ he said.
And he flippantly told her, ‘Have you ever disagreed with the president, I suspect you may have.’
Clinton said the senator’s statements about the president were more than mere disagreements though, ‘calling the president weak, calling him a disappointment, calling, several times, that he should have a primary opponent when he ran for re-election in 2012.’
‘I understand we can disagree on the path forward, but those kinds of personal assessments and charges are ones that I find…’ she was saying as moderator Gwen Ifill abruptly interrupted her.
The moment shed light on how Clinton plans to combat Sanders’ unexpected rise to the top of the Democratic field moving forward.
Throwing shade: Hillary Clinton used her allegiance to President Obama as an attack against Bernie Sanders in tonight’s Democratic debate in Milwuakee, Wisconsin
Tonight’s debate was the last before the next round of voting – but it’s not the final time they’ll speak to the same audience.
Friday evening both candidates will speak to the Minnesota DFL – which acts as the state party – and the dinner could see Clinton suggest again that Sanders’ varied criticisms of Obama’s tenure run more than policy deep.
The debate saw Sanders claim he’d ‘absolutely’ improve race relations in America beyond where they are now under the black president by increasing taxes on the nation’s wealthy.
Sanders said at the PBS-sponsored debate, his second head-to-head with Hillary Clinton since Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dropped out, that African Americans – and Latinos – were ‘hit especially hard’ by the ‘disastrous behavior on Wall Street’ and they ‘lost half of their wealth’ when it collapsed.
‘We are looking at an economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And sadly, in America today, in our economy, a whole lot of those poor people are African-American,’ he declared.
‘I understand we can disagree on the path forward, but those kinds of personal assessments and charges are ones that I find…’ she was saying as moderator Gwen Ifill, seen above, abruptly interrupted her
Moderator Judy Woodruff took his argument a step further and asked if he thought race relations would be better than they’ve been under President Barack Obama.
‘Absolutely, because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners,’ Sanders said. ‘We’re going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education.’
Continuing, he said, ‘And I think when you give low-income kids – African-American, white, Latino kids – the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They’re going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.’
Moments before Sanders had cited a 35 percent poverty rate among black children, a 51 percent youth unemployment rate and ‘unbelievable rates of incarceration’ that separates black children from their parents and and said ‘clearly, we are looking at institutional racism.’
The the focus of tonight’s debate quickly turned to minority voters who could make up a large portion of the Democratic Party’s electorate in South Carolina and Nevada, the next states to vote, and a string of southern states that visit the ballot box on March 1.
Sanders has made outreach to prominent black figures a priority of agenda ahead of those contests and tonight he went out of his way to note how his economic policies and criminal justice reform policies would affect black and Hispanic communities.
He had breakfast with activist Al Sharpton yesterday in Harlem, and former NAACP chief Benjamin Jealous endorsed him last Friday.
The Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Clinton today, however, giving her a powerful boost from famed civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
Clinton lost to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary by 22 percentage points – but there, hardly any minorities voted.
Nevada’s caucus is next, and Sanders will face his first test among non-white voters. Nevada has a 28 percent Latino population, and nearly 9 percent of the state is African-American. Another 8 percent are Asian-American.
Prior to his win in New Hampshire Clinton was ahead of Sanders by nearly 20 percentage points there. She’s also in front of him in South Carolina, where 55 percent of the state’s Democrats are black, and 35 percent are black women.
Clinton is running to be the first woman president but so far, Sanders has kept time with her in that demographic. She barely won women in Iowa and lost young women to the 74-year-old senator. In New Hampshire he beat her in both categories.
‘I have spent my entire adult life working toward making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices even if that choice is not to vote for me,’ Clinton said tonight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as she addressed her inability to win over women.
Hundreds of supporters for or against presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton protested in front of the Helene Zelazo Center for Performing Arts at the UWM campus on Thursday
Gloria Steinem and her husband’s former secretary of state Madeleine Albright did her no favors last week when they went after women supporting Sanders instead of Clinton. Steinem said young women were only backing Bernie because the boys are
Supporters for or against presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton protested in front of the Helene Zelazo Center for Performing Arts at the UWM campus
Gloria Steinem and her husband’s former secretary of state Madeleine Albright did her no favors last week when they went after women supporting Sanders instead of Clinton.
Steinem said young women were only backing Bernie because the boys are. Albright said at a rally in New Hampshire last, ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’
Clinton laughed tonight as she was asked about it as she did when Albright delivered the line at her event and said, ‘Well, look, I think that she’s been saying that for as long as I’ve known her, which is about 25 years.
‘But it doesn’t change my view that we need to empower everyone, women and men, to make the best decisions in their mind that they can make,’ she said.
The conversation on race relations started when Woodruff told Clinton that a 23-year-old black woman recently told her she was disappointed that race relations did not get better under President Obama.
‘Hardly anyone believes that they have. Why do you think race relations would be better under a Clinton presidency?’ she asked. ‘What would you do that the nation’s first African American has not been able to?’
‘Well, I’m just not sure I agree completely with that assessment. I think under President Obama we have seen a lot of advances,’ she said, pointing to the Affordable Care Act, which ‘has helped more African Americans than any other group to get insurance.’
Clinton is running to be the first woman president but so far, Sanders has kept time with her in that demographic. She barely won women in Iowa and lost young women to the 74-year-old senator. In New Hampshire he beat her in both categories
And thanks to social media and smartphones, ‘we also know a lot more than we did,’ Clinton stated. ‘So, we are seeing the dark side of the remaining systemic racism that we have to root out in our society.
‘I think President Obama has set a great example. I think he has addressed a lot of these issues that have been quite difficult, but he has gone forward. Now, what we have to do is to build on an honest conversation about where we go next.’ she said.
BERNIE AND HILLARY’S HE-SAID, SHE-SAID ON HENRY KISSINGER
‘I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.’ – Bernie Sanders
‘Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.’ – Hillary Clinton
‘Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger. That’s for sure.’ – Bernie Sanders
‘I think it is fair to say, whatever the complaints that you want to make about him are … his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America.’ – Hillary Clinton
‘Kissinger was one of those people during the Vietnam era who talked about the domino theory …. if Vietnam goes, China, da, da, da, da, da, da, da [goes too.] And then, after the war, this is the guy who … pushed various type of trade agreements, resulting in American workers losing their jobs as corporations moved to China.’ – Bernie Sanders
‘Not my kind of guy.’ – Bernie Sanders
The criminal justice system must be reformed, she said, and more should be done ‘to provide employment, housing and education.’
‘I think what President Obama did was to exemplify the importance of this issue as our first African American president, and to address it both from the President’s office, and through his advocacy, such as working with young men, and Mrs. Obama’s work with young women,’ she said.
But Clinton added, ‘We can’t rest. We have work to do, and we now know a lot more than we ever did before.’
‘So, it’s going to be my responsibility to make sure we move forward to solve these problems that are now out in the open. Nobody can deny them.’
The discussion over who would do more to improve the fortunes of the nation’s African Americans dominated the first half of the debate, followed by a question about the size of government that threw Sanders for a loop.
He struggled to say how much his proposals will grow the government, twice ducking the issue, at the start of the Milwaukee debate.
Sanders ran down the list of challenges the U.S. faces – crumbling infrastructure, soaring college tuition – but was not able to able to put a number on it.
Hillary Clinton used the opening to point out that progressive economists say he’ll expand the role of the federal government by 40 percent.
And, the numbers on his healthcare plan don’t add up – families will not pay $500 in place of the $5,000 they are paying now, as he’s claimed, she said.
‘That is a promise that cannot be kept,’ Clinton charged. As she put forward her own plans for when she’s in the White House, Sanders countered and said, ‘Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet.’
WAITING IN THE WINGS: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is licking his chops to face either Democrat in a general election matchup – both brough t him up tonight as he rallied his own supporters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
MINORITY REPORTING: Bernie Sanders needs help from black and Hispanic voters and he’s getting a boost from meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday
Another heated moment came about because of one of Sanders’ favorite talking points, Clinton’s Wall Street donations.
Clinton proclaimed that she was not bought and paid for by Wall Street, despite bankers throwing money at her presidential campaign.
‘The people aren’t dumb,’ Sanders said. ‘Let’s not insult the intelligent of the American people. Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it, they want to throw money around.’
PBS anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderated the debate in Milwaukee.
Immigration and financial regulations were among the issues also touched upon in the first hour of the debate, with the later half focusing on foreign policy, with the candidates engaging in a colorful back-and-forth about Hillary Clinton’s boast that she’s advised by Henry Kissinger.
Clinton and Sanders both jumped behind President Obama’s directives on illegal immigration, and Sanders said he’d issue even more if Congress remains stalled on reforms.
‘We’ve got to stand up to the Trumps of the world who are trying to divide us up.’ he said, and provide a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Sanders was referring to GOP front-runner Donald Trump who was rallying his own supporters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the time and unable to respond in real time via Twitter.