FLINT, MI – After the March 3 Republican debate, the 11th of the primary season, each a raucous event but none like that one – where the incessant namecalling devolved into bragging about the size of hands, among other body parts – the two remaining Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, debated in Flint, MI, and created some fireworks of their own.
It is all matter of perspective, though: Clinton and Sanders would have to go a long way to equal the vitriol spewed among some of the Republican candidates as of late – namely, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz – but Clinton seemed to have borrowed a page from Trump’s and Rubio’s playbooks insofar as she interrupted Sanders routinely, though he shouted her down each time: “let me finish!”
Sanders railed against Clinton, saying he has consistently fought against “your pals on Wall Street,” whom he referred to as crooks repeatedly.
Moderated by Anderson Cooper, the CNN debate in Flint, which gained national attention earlier this year at the height of a drinking water crisis.
A number of audience members – predominantly African-Americans, asked questions ranging from race relations to education and earned supportive applause, as did the frontrunner Clinton.
More than in any other debate to this point, though, Sanders drew sharp distinctions between himself and Clinton, portraying her as the establishment candidate – also a stance that has worked well for anti-establishment contenders on the Republican side.
When Clinton’s opposition to fracking was nuanced, Sanders offered distinct contrast, by replying: “my answer is a lot simpler: I am against fracking.”
Both candidates took potshots at the March 3 Republican debate: Clinton noted the superior civility of her debate with Sanders, and he quipped that we need to invest more in mental health “and in watching the Republican debate,” you can see why.
As it is virtually impossible to get through a political discussion nowadays – even a Democratic debate – without mentioning Donald Trump, Cooper asked the candidates about him: Clinton repeated her Super Tuesday line that “America never stopped being great,” in response to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” That line certainly makes a statement, one that may help or hurt her down the road. Sanders, in turn, emphasized that in national polls, he beats Trump more handily than Clinton does.
Earlier in the day, Sanders won the Maine primary contest, making that three out of four over the weekend. Clinton, though, maintains a strong total delegate lead over Sanders.