Although Clinton is ahead in the delegate count and the popular vote, a loss in her home state of New York in Tuesday’s primary would be an embarrassment. Likewise, a loss in New York would make it all the more difficult for Sanders to stop media assumptions that his rival is the presumptive nominee.
Follow along below for updates:
9:01 pm ET. The polls, polls. Sanders starts by citing polling data — as he often does on the stump — including some polls that show him leading nationally. He may be second to Donald Trump when it comes to mentioning polling data. But Clinton’s backers answer by citing her lead in the delegate count and the popular vote.
9:14 pm ET. Comin’ out swinging. Sanders questions Clinton’s judgment, in answer to one of Wolf Blitzer’s questions about the increasingly acrimonious rhetoric between the two candidates. “I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” he says. Clinton answers by citing another Sanders quote, that questioned her qualifications. “Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I have been called a lot of things. That was a first,” she says, before pointing to Sanders’ tough interview with the New York Daily News editorial board.
9:20 pm ET. The Goldman Sachs speeches. Clinton avoids answering a question about whether she will release transcripts of speeches to Goldman Sachs. Then she is asked again. But she then diverts to her release of tax returns — which Sanders and Donald Trump have not released. A third time. “Let’s set the same standard for everybody — when everybody does it. OK.” That essentially falls into Sanders’ trap, as in stump speeches he often makes a big show of saying that he will release the transcripts of his paid speeches to Wall Street. It’s 0.
Sanders does say that he will release one year of tax returns — from 2014. Blitzer asks him why not more? “We will get to it,” Sanders says.
9:25 pm ET. Sanders and business. Sanders slams Verizon, a big issue in New York with workers on strike, by pointing to its bloated CEO’s salary while the company, he says, is trying to cut healthcare. But he also goes after Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, who has been critical of Sanders. “Doesn’t like me — that’s fine,” Sander says. “He has outsourced hundreds of thousands and decent paying jobs.”
9:31 pm ET. The fever. Blitzer steps in as both candidates shout over one another in a debate over Sanders’ claim that Clinton only recently supported the $15-per-hour minimum wage. “If you are both screaming at each other, the viewers will not be able to hear you,” Blitzer says. Given the amped up rhetoric in the month since the last debate, this is not all that surprising.
9:34 pm ET. Gun violence. Clinton’s campaign has been on offense when it comes to gun control, hammering Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill. Sanders chides Clinton by claiming that she said Vermont was to blame for New York’s gun violence. “What she said was totally absurd,” Sanders said. Clinton says that guns used in crime come from out of state. She says that Sanders has been “largely, a very reliable supporter of the NRA.”
9:43 pm ET. Are we getting anywhere? Much of this debate is covering the same territory as last debates. The difference is in the temperature of the rhetoric.
9:47 pm ET. ‘Superpredator.’ Sanders says that Clinton’s use of the word “superpredator” when she was first lady in the 1990s “was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term.” Clinton used the term in 1996 when she was talking about the impact that violent crime had on communities. She later said that she shouldn’t have used those words.
9:59 pm ET. Defending Obama. Hillary Clinton frequently defends President Barack Obama in debates — again to contrast her position with that of Sanders, who has been critical of the White House trade policy and, as she pointed out, expressed reservations about the UN climate pact for falling short. “I really believe the president has done a great job against incredible odds,” she says. She’s perhaps mindful that Obama’s approval rating is now above 50%.
“Incrementalism and those little steps are not enough,” Sanders says, which essentially defines many of their differences.
Sanders tries to get Clinton to answer whether she is for a carbon tax, but is unsatisfied.
“I don’t take a back seat to your legislation (on climate change) that you failed to get passed,” Clinton says.
10:08 pm ET. Libya. President Obama has acknowledged the failure to plan for post-Gaddafi Libya. Clinton, who supported U.S. intervention as secretary of state, says, “We were caught in a very difficult position.” Sanders seizes on it, “Regime change often has unintended consequences.” Clinton claims that Sanders voted for U.S. action, while he contends that the vote was actually whether there should be “democracy in Libya.”
10:18 pm ET. Syria. Clinton supports a no-fly zone in Syria, something that Sanders believes would get the U.S. mired in another war there. Diverging from Obama administration policy, Clinton says that safe havens are needed for Syrians who oppose Bashar al-Assad.
10:23 pm ET. Gaza. Sanders says he is “100% pro-Israel” and had “every right in the world to destroy terrorism,” but says its actions in Gaza were a “disproportionate attack,” noting that 100,000 civilians were wounded and 15,000 were killed. But Clinton says, “I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant attack.”
Sanders says that Clinton barely mentioned Palestinian people in her speech to AIPAC. “If we are ever going to bring peace to that region we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity,” adding that the U.S. had to take a more “even handed role in trying to bring people together.”
10:38 pm ET. Social security. “We are in vigorous agreement here, Senator,” Clinton says to Sanders, as he attacks her for not doing enough to protect social security. He presses her on whether she would support legislation to lift the cap on taxable income.
Clinton gets a bit frustrated, saying that whenever doesn’t hear an answer he likes, he says that they are a member of the “establishment.”
10:48 pm ET. Abortion. Clinton gets big applause when she notes that they are “never asked” about a woman’s right to choose. “We need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood,” she says. Groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America lobbied CNN to ask a question about it at the debate.
Sanders says that he would expand funding for Planned Parenthood.
10:50 pm ET. Sanders a Democrat? Sanders is asked about Clinton’s suggestion that he may not even be a Democrat, as he is a “Democratic socialist.” “Why would I be running for the Democratic nomination to be president of the United States?”
10:57 pm ET. To win or not. “I believe that we are going to win the nomination and that we are going to obliterate Donald Trump in November,” Sanders says. Clinton, however, notes that her campaign leads in not just delegates, but “pledged” delegates. “When we end up with the delegates we need, we will unify the party and go on to the general election,” she says.
11:10 pm ET. That’s it. Once again, there was no clear winner. Clinton did very well when talking about issues like guns and women’s reproductive rights, as well as calling attention to Sanders’ Daily News interview. Sanders had a pattern of pressing Clinton to answer questions, rather than evade, and it worked on issues like Social Security and the minimum wage. But this was a debate that essentially rehashed questions covered in past debates, leaving it to the candidates to turn up the volume to define their differences.