Tags: Democrats 2016 | debate | sanders | clinton | wall | street | climate

Clinton and Sanders Dominate Debate Dealing with Wall Street, Middle East, Climate Change

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 11:25 PM

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton clashed sharply on which presidential candidate has the tougher plan to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, putting financial reform at the center of a gripping and, at times, passionate first Democratic debate. 

"My plan is more comprehensive and frankly it's tougher," Clinton said, referring to Wall Street reform proposals offered by Sanders.

Sanders quickly responded: "Not true."

Clinton continued that shadow banking is the next area of potential concern and that "you may be missing the forest for the trees" by targeting big banks, as Sanders and O'Malley have urged. Her administration would not only give regulators authority to go after big banks, they may also pursue "sending the executives to jail" if needed, she said.

Sanders said the 2016 presidential election is about "whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires" and said Americans will vote for a democratic socialist—how he describes himself—if they understand what it means and that he is not part of the "casino capitalist process."

In a later exchange, Sanders called out a former treasury secretary to elaborate on the point. "You know what I said to Hank Paulson?," he said. "I said, 'Hank, your guys, you come from Goldman Sachs, your millionaire and billionaire friends caused this problem. How about your millionaire and billionaire friends pay for this bailout?'"Sanders Shake

Between clashes over policy, there was also a moment of camaraderie between the former secretary of state and the senator, as Sanders sided with her over the scrutiny of the private e-mail account she used while at the State Department. "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails," he said. Clinton responded by extending her hand toward Sanders, who grabbed it and shook it.

Under fire from the first moments of the debate, Clinton volleyed the attacks energetically. She frequently alluded to her history-making ambition of becoming the nation's "first woman president" and emphasized her own extensive resume.

"I am certainly not running for president because my last name in Clinton," said the wife of the nation's 42nd president, Bill Clinton.

Responding to a question about charges that she’s a flip- flopper, Clinton maintained that she has "been very consistent over the course of my life" in her positions but that she does "absorb new information–I do look at what’s happening in the world." One of her most recent shifts came last week when she voiced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for which she’d helped lay the groundwork while serving in the Obama administration. When she was secretary of state, "I did say that I hoped it would be the gold standard," she said. The deal announced last week "did not meet my standards," she added.

During the debate, Clinton repeatedly praised Obama and sought to associate herself with his agenda, calling him a "great moral leader" on criminal justice reform and backing his policies on climate change and the financial reform law. It may be a clever strategy as Obama is immensely popular with Democrats—83 percent approve of his job performance; just 10 percent disapprove in a recent CBS News poll. It is also notable given that Senate Democrats facing reelection in 2014—many campaigning in red states—actively steered clear of Obama.Benghazi Committee

Asked about her upcoming testimony before a House committee that was formed to investigate 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the death of an American ambassador but has begun to focus on Clinton's use of a private email server, the former secretary of state call it "basically an arm of the Republican National Committee" that was designed to disrupt her campaign. "I'm still standing," she said to applause from the partisan audience.

Along with Sanders, O'Malley, who has at times been sharply critical of Clinton, also downplayed the e-mail controversy, saying "we don't have to be defined" it when there are other issues to discuss.

Only Chafee, who began the night noting that his public career has been scandal free, disagreed, saying there is "an issue of American credibility" and that "I think we need someone that has the best ethical standards" in the next president.

Clinton suggested she's looking forward to her Oct. 22 appearance before her House inquisitors. "I'll be there; I'll answer their questions," Clinton said. "I never said it wasn't legitimate," Clinton said, when moderator Anderson Cooper noted there was an FBI investigation into the emails and that President Barack Obama has raised concerns. "I said that I have answered all the questions."Taking on Wall Street

The argument over which Democratic candidate would be best able to reduce income inequity continued later in the debate. Sanders said billionaire Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his wealthy friends will "pay a hell of a lot more" in taxes if he is president and called Wall Street a place "where fraud is a business model."Foreign Policy

One of the most marked differences among the candidates came during a lengthy discussion about foreign policy. Clinton, defended her foreign policy acumen in light of her vote, as a senator, for the Iraq war, accusing rivals of "loose talk" and saying her support of a no-fly zone in Syria is a way to give the U.S. leverage against Russia.

She said if President Barack Obama doubted her judgment he would not have made her his first secretary of state. "He valued my judgment," she said, adding that she spent a lot of time in the Situation Room.

Sanders and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said Clinton's support of the invasion of Iraq as a U.S. senator reflects on her judgment. It's an indication of "how someone will perform in the future," Chafee said. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, asked whether Clinton was too quick to take military action, said "I would not be so quick" to support a no-fly in Syria, and called it a "mistake."Gun Showdown

Gun control may be the one issue on which Clinton can damage Sanders with the left, and she made the most of it. Asked if the Vermont senator is tough enough on guns, Clinton's answer was swift.

"No. Not at all," she said.

Clinton argued that mass killings have "gone on too long and it's time the entire country stood up against the" National Rifle Association. She attacked Sanders for voting against the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability if their firearms are used criminally.

"He was going to give immunity to the only industry in America—everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers," she said.

Sanders noted that he has supports a ban on assault weapons and instant background checks, but noted that views on guns are different in his rural state of Vermont. "All the shouting in the world" won't keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, he said.

He said gun laws would only pass "when we develop that consensus."

Sanders reiterated that he's willing to "take another look at" at his 2005 vote to shield gun makers and dealers, a measure that Clinton, then a U.S. senator from New York, noted that she voted against that bill.

O'Malley, who enacted gun control as governor of Maryland, also attacked Sanders over his gun record and said he instead led "with principles, not by pandering to the NRA."Chasing Clinton

The debate, hosted by CNN and Facebook, was shorter and more manageable than the two Republican debates that have been held so far, which have featured a field of candidates more than three times as large that had to be divided into two separate time-slots.

As top performer in polls, Clinton had the center spot on stage at the Wynn hotel and casino. She was flanked by Sanders, her closest challenger and former Maryland governor O'Malley, with former Virginia senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island governor Chafee on the wings. Sanders has also done some ideological tacking in the days leading up to the debate to bring his position on guns closer in line with that of his party's mostly pro-gun control constituency.

Clinton began preparing for the debate in early August. Her mock sessions have been led by Ron Klain, a former Biden chief of staff who remains close to the vice president and who helped prepare President Barack Obama for general election debates against Mitt Romney in 2012. Washington attorney Bob Barnett, who is Clinton's book lawyer and has been involved in Democratic presidential debate teams since 1976, played Sanders. Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan, a former Biden national security adviser, played O'Malley. Clinton did not prepare as intensively for Webb, Chafee or Biden.

Clinton had led Democrats in fundraising this year. But in the third quarter, Sanders came much closer to Clinton than expected, raising $26 million to her $28 million according to figures that both candidates have made public. Third quarter campaign finance reports from all of the presidential campaigns are due at the Federal Election Commission on Thursday. In Iowa, where the first ballots of the 2016 contest will be cast in Feb. 1 caucuses, Clinton leads the Democratic field in Iowa by 6.3 percentage points, according to an average of recent polls in the first caucus state tracked by Real Clear Politics. Sanders leads the field in New Hampshire by 9.2 percentage points in the latest RCP average of polls from the first primary state.

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton clashed sharply on which presidential candidate has the tougher plan to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, putting financial reform at the center of a gripping and, at times, passionate first Democratic debate. It's our job to rein in...
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015 11:25 PM
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