Hillary Clinton arrived on the debate stage Sunday night well-prepped for a real fight with Bernie Sanders — a surging candidate her campaign virtually ignored for the first eight months of her campaign — on the issues of bankers, guns and money.
With less than two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses and polls showing a too-close-to-call race in Iowa, Clinton operatives have been launching intensifying and increasingly personal attacks against the surging progressive. But the debate stage, which throughout the campaign has provided Clinton with some of her strongest moments, was the first time over the past week that she was able to launch an offensive without her remarks seeming to boomerang….
Bernie Sanders repeated Sunday that Bill Clinton’s past infidelities are “deplorable,” but sent the signal that he isn’t interested in talking about them.
“That question annoys me,” Sanders said at the debate in South Carolina after he was asked if he regretted calling Bill Clinton’s past infidelities “totally disgraceful and unacceptable.”
“I cannot walk down the street — Sec. Clinton knows this -— without being told how much I have to attack Sec. Clinton,” Sanders said….
“I don’t take money from big banks,” Sanders said, aiming his barb at Clinton. “I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”
Clinton shot back, insisting that there was “no daylight on the basic premise that there should be no bank too big to fail, and no individual too powerful to jail,” and then took Sanders to task over perceived slights on President Barack Obama.
“The comments that Senator Sanders has made that don’t just affect me, I can take that, but he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street, and President Obama has led our country out of the Great Recession,” she said. “Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing; he in 2011 publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama.”
Sanders objected, noting that despite his “differences of opinion” with Obama, he helped him win re-election in 2012. He then turned it back on Clinton…..
With Mr. Sanders gaining ground on Mrs. Clinton ahead of the Iowa caucuses, just two weeks away, Mrs. Clinton charged that Mr. Sanders’s new universal health care plan and its high tax increases would play into the hands of Republicans who want to repeal President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
“We’ve accomplished so much already,” Mrs. Clinton said, painting Mr. Sanders as a threat to universal health insurance. “I don’t want to see the Republicans repeal it.”
“That is nonsense,” said Mr. Sanders, who pushed back sharply throughout the night. “What a ‘Medicare for all’ program does is finally provide health care for every man, woman and child as a right.” He noted that 29 million people still have no health insurance.
But Mrs. Clinton refused to stand down. “You know, I have to say I’m not sure we’re talking about the plan you just introduced tonight or the plan you introduced nine times in the Congress,” she said. “To tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate, I think is the wrong direction.”
“No one is tearing it up — we’re going forward,” Mr. Sanders said.
If Mrs. Clinton was trying to make Mr. Sanders look less than qualified for the presidency, Mr. Sanders repeatedly tried to address doubts about his electability, which a new Clinton television ad has questioned. At one point, he rattled off some of his strong poll numbers, not unlike the leading Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump….
Transcript of the Debate….
Almost ALL of the snap debate polls will show Bernie Sanders ahead….
The pundits seem to have Hillary Clinton as the winner…..
But we’ll have have to wait for a few to get how it plays….
image….Mic Smith/AP Photo