Washington DC: Hillary Clinton has strongly defended her front-runner status in the US presidential race…
Democratic presidential aspirants Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed on the debating stage on Sunday night on economy, race relations, global trade, gun control, climate change, criminal justice system and campaign finance, with sharp exchanges and retorts, but there were some agreements too.
The debate took place in Flint, Michigan, an African American neighbourhood that recently discovered that its water distribution system had been poisoned by corroding lead pipes.
Agree their debate is unlike Republicans’
Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton were in agreement that their debate was in sharp contrast with the Republican debate last week, in which candidates talked little policy, exchanged insults and fought over their own anatomies.
“We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in mental health,” Mr. Sanders said, even as Ms. Clinton heartily laughed.
‘Rich in substance’
“We have our differences and we get into vigorous debate about issues. But compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week,” she had said earlier.
While Mr. Sanders pressed on with his theme of an economy that works for all, and repeatedly challenged Ms. Clinton on her connections with big corporations, she sought to turn the tables on him by bringing in the question of race relations and gun control, two issues that she hopes could put the senator on the back foot.
Comfortable lead over Sanders
Ms. Clinton maintains a comfortable lead in the nomination race nationally over Mr. Sanders, who pointed out that opinion polls showed him better placed to beat the Republicans than Ms. Clinton. Just as the debate was on, Mr. Sanders won the Democratic caucuses in Maine.
A discussion on climate change led to some heated exchanges between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Sanders.
She will allow fracking, he will not
Responding to a question, Ms. Clinton said she would allow fracking with conditions, but Mr. Sanders said his answer would be much shorter. “No.” He said fossil fuel companies were among the contributors to Ms. Clinton’s campaign fund and these companies were aiming to influence policies.
Seeking to underscore her track record in combating climate change, Ms. Clinton said she had helped President Barack Obama to put pressure on India and China to agree to a global pact.
Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton also explained their religious faith in response to questions from the moderator. Mr. Sanders said the essence of all religions was, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ “I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am,” he said, rejecting the criticism that he was muted about his religious identity.
Ms. Clinton said she prayed for people she knows and those going through difficult periods in their lives. “I pray for the will of God to be known so that we can know it and to the best of our limited ability try to follow it and fulfill it.”
Though Ms. Clinton herself found the debate substantive and civil, some amount of social media activity generated by her sympathisers suggested Mr. Sanders was occasionally disrespectful to her. One particular exchange in question related to their respective positions on the federal bailout for the auto industry.
Ms. Clinton said Mr. Sanders had opposed the bailout that would help millions of workers. “If you are talking about the Wall Street bailout, where some of your friends destroyed this economy…” Mr.
Excuse me, I’m talking
When Ms. Clinton started to interject, and Mr. Sanders cut her short, saying, “Excuse me, I’m talking.” Many Clinton supporters accused Mr. Sanders of sexism. “Sanders’ “excuse me I’m talking” may not be sexist but certainly was patronising,” tweeted Neera Tanden, President of the Centre for American Progress and a friend of Ms. Clinton.