Democratic Debate: Five Most Memorable Moments

Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Matt Baron/REX Shutterstock

With two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over issues like healthcare, gun control and Wall Street on Sunday at the NBC News/YouTube Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, S.C.

The attacks were more biting, more pointed, even louder than they were in past debates — albeit still short of the raucous atmosphere of recent GOP encounters.

Clinton, facing the very real threat that Sanders could beat her in Iowa and New Hampshire, presented herself as a pragmatist who knows what’s possible. Sanders, characterizing his campaign as a revolution, didn’t shy from his idealism and didn’t divert from his focus on a “rigged” economy and corrupt campaign finance system.

There is good reason for the candidates to try to put their differences in relief: This was the last debate before Iowa and New Hampshire, although it remains to be seen how much of an impact it will have given its scheduling on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend.

As for Martin O’Malley, he struggled for airtime, even more so than in past debates. When moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates to answer in 30 second, he said, “Can I get 30 seconds too?”

Guns blazing

Clinton blasted Sanders for reversing his position on giving gun manufacturers immunity from prosecution. “There is no other industry in America that has been given the total pass that gun makers and dealers were,” she said, and noted that the debate in Charleston was taking place less than a block away from the church where nine African Americans were killed in a shooting rampage last June.

Sanders, who noted that he comes from a state heavy in gun ownership, tried to defend himself by citing his low score from the NRA. He called Clinton’s attacks “disingenuous.”O’Malley pointed out that both candidates have been inconsistent. He got in his best line of the night, a dig at the Republicans for their lock-step opposition to gun control legislation. “I have never met a self-respecting deer hunter who needs an AR-15 to hunt down a deer.”I love ObamacareClinton gave a full embrace of Obamacare, while warning that Sanders’ proposal for Medicare-for-all is too great of a risk after the divisive, decades-long debate to establish universal health care. She knows by experience.”I do not want to see the Republicans repeal it and I don’t want to start all over again with a contentious debate,” she said, adding that he planned to build on the Affordable Care Act by reducing out-of-pocket costs and prescription drug prices.But Sanders is still stinging from Clinton attacks that his health care plan would jeopardize current entitlements. “No one is tearing this up,” Sanders insisted, his voice sounding indignant as he called her attacks “nonsense.”This is probably not the end of it, particularly as Sanders’ plans for paying for a single-payer system get extra scrutiny.Speaking feesSanders campaign is built on anti-Wall Street populism, and he came to this debate with a line of attack on Clinton, for taking $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”I have doubts when people take huge amounts of money from Wall Street,” he said.Clinton pointed to Sanders past criticism of President Obama, as “weak” and “disappointing.””I am going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, taking on the finance industry and getting results,” she said.

If she becomes the nominee, Republicans will inevitably use such lines as fodder to make the case that Clinton would mean a third Obama term.

Iran deal

With the Iran nuclear agreement now in effect, Sanders spoke of a needing to move to “normalize” relations with Tehran. As she has in past debates, Clinton tried to showcase more sophisticated instincts when it came to foreign policy.

“We still have to carefully watch them,” she said of the Iranian regime. “We have had one good day over the past 36 years.”

She did the same when the topic turned to the situation in Syria. Sanders talked of enlisting more Arab countries to send military assistance to the war-torn region. Countries like Qatar, he said, have got to put “skin in the game.” Clinton, however, pointed out just how difficult it has been to build coalitions in the Middle East.

What Will Bill Do?

Sanders defended an answer he gave at an Iowa town hall, in which he called former President Bill Clinton’s infidelity “disgraceful and unacceptable.”

When asked about it at the debate, he said that he was responding to a question — not bringing up the issue himself.

“I was asked a question, and that question annoys me,” Sanders said, adding that he has tried to avoid attacking Hillary Clinton even as the media has tried to goad him.

Moderator Andrea Mitchell noted that he didn’t have to answer the question that way.

“Then if I don’t, there’s another front page. I mean this seriously. We’ve been through this. His behavior was deplorable. Have I ever once said a word about that issue? No I have not.” He said that he was going to debate on the issues, not Bill Clinton’s “personal behavior.”

Asked what her husband would do if she got elected, and whether he would have a “kitchen table role,” Clinton drew laughs when she said, “It’s start at the kitchen table and we’ll see where it goes.”

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  1. Iron Mountain Report says:

    An AR-15 is used for self-protection from Democide, aka Genocide by Government! It isn’t used to “Hunt Deer.” Guns are used for citizens protecting themselves. Like when China invades the USA! Or a Tyrannical Government steps on the weak, the elderly and disabled. The >Right< to bear arms shall not be infringed! < IN PLAIN ENGLISH! Where do you see, the "Right" to have an Abortion in the Constitution? People on the Hard-Left Globalist side of things follow the Georgia Guide stones and want "Population Control" by any means! That's why guns need to be out of the picture. It's not about saving someone's son! You may be, someone killed by the radical NWO ideals! Many eggs have to get cracked! Even those who are the followers! The useless idiots who say…"Stop watching FOX NEWS!" To create a brave new world for Ruling Elites, many have to die in the process!

    • Frank says:

      There is a lot of truth in what you say Iron Mountain Report.

      No matter what Democrat might get elected, it will be the final blow to this once great country. Obama has effectively destroyed the United States during his two terms, and another democrat will just put the final nails in the coffin. The Democratic gun-control agenda is just about disarming the people, setting us up for the Socialist-bordering-on-Communist administration that will come with either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the White House. If you’ve ever wondered what living in a Communist country is like, you’ll find out under another Democratic administration.

      Also, I really have to laugh at how “Variety: The Journal of Left Wing Hollywood Bullshit” just loves to side with the Democrats, and is so blatantly anti-Republican. It would be nice if a publication like Variety would just stick to news about the Entertainment Industry, or at least be non-bias in it’s reporting, and not constantly spout it’s own political agenda. It’s just poor journalism, not just in how bad the writing and reporting in Variety is, but also how self-serving it’s reporting is.

    • cadavra says:

      Are you a member of a “well-regulated militia?” Because if you’re not, your gun ownership is Constitutionally illegal. Think about that before indulging in your paranoid fantasies, especially as you’re more likely to shoot a family member, friend or neighbor than an enemy agent.

      • cadavra says:

        The Founding Fathers intended for militias to protect the citizens against foreign invaders, not their own government, as well as patrolling border states to shoot runaway slaves. In any event, the Militia Act of 1903 disbanded militias and replaced them with the National Guard, so technically the Second Amendment was nullified, but nobody chooses to bring that up. Of course, you’d know all this if you’d ever cracked open a book once in a while.

      • Frank says:

        You’re an ignorant moron Cadavra. The ordinary PEOPLE are The Militia. That is what the Founding Father’s intended. Gun ownership is a Constitutional right. You’re just too stupid to understand what it’s really about.

    • joy karen says:

      W H A T?

  2. Mark says:

    “We have has one good say over the past 36 years.”

    … should read “We have haD one good Day over the past 36 years.” Running a quick spellcheck is no substitute for a good copy editor. Yeesh.

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