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Before There Was a Democrat Debate, There Was a Debate About the Democrat Debate

Ryan Mahoney - April 14, 2016

The gloves are off in the Democrat primary as Clinton and Sanders prepare to take the stage for Thursday night’s Democrat debate in Brooklyn ahead of New York’s pivotal primary vote.

As the fight for the Democrat nomination has dragged on, we’ve witnessed the race devolve into bitter squabbling. After losing eight of the last nine contests to Sanders upstart campaign, Hillary has lost her patience with the so-called “revolution.” And Bernie, emboldened by his victories and his fervent fan base, has gone as far as to raise speculation about a contested Democrat convention.

Tensions high, both campaigns have been ratcheting up attacks ahead of what promises to be a Brooklyn Brawl.

#ToneDownForWhat: The Debate About the Debate

To understand how combative it has become between the Clinton and Sanders camp, consider the fact that Thursday’s debate almost didn’t happen.

Initially the Clinton campaign refused to set a New York debate, insisting that Sanders change his “tone” calling his campaign “too negative.”

Clinton’s defensive and condescending posture elicited a twitter firestorm and the hashtag #ToneDownForWhat. For many, it was the pot calling the kettle black, with the Clinton camp itself running a “dishonest and petty campaign.”  


​Questioning Qualifications, No Apologies

The political drama only intensified after “Tone”-gate with both sides trading personal attacks and cheap shots.

After Clinton suggested that Sanders was not qualified to be President, accusing him of being “unable to answer basic questions,” Sanders fired back, attacking Clinton for being unqualified to be president because of her Wall Street ties and foreign policy record.

The series of exchanges reached a low point when Clinton shamelessly suggested that Sanders apologize to the victims of Sandy Hook for his stance on holding gun manufacturers liable for gun crimes.  

Sanders responded in kind, calling on Clinton to “apologize to the families who lost their loved ones in Iraq.”

At time of publication, there are no apologies on record.  
 

What to Watch For Thursday Night

With the pressure high, how low will the Democrats go in their deepening feud? Here are some of the rifts that could take center stage in Brooklyn.

Wall Street

Clinton’s relationship to big financial firms has been a continual sore spot for her. Back in February she insisted she would release the transcripts of her closed-door remarks to financial firms for which she charged hundreds of thousands of dollars. But she’s resisted calls to release them; just another example of the shameless stonewalling the Clinton camp has used to evade accountability time and again.

The issue has taken on new life as it was revealed that Clinton is using money from her Wall Street speeches to literally bankroll her campaign. As Yahoo News reports, the timing of Clinton’s paid speeches “raise questions about whether her lucrative speech fees effectively amount to a ‘pass through’ of money” from special interests.

There’s also her insulting comments from a November debate in which she invoked the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an attempt to explain her ties to her wealthy donors.

Hillary Clinton portrays herself as a crusader against big banks but her pandering just isn’t credible. New Yorkers deserve to be spared hypocrisy from a candidate who has taken in millions from the financial sector and personally made over $3 million in 2013 alone giving speeches to the same.
 

Guns

Clinton has attacked Sanders aggressively on guns, pitting Sanders against the families of victims of Sandy Hook and blaming Vermont laws for gun deaths in New York.

The attack has been debunked again and again, but that hasn’t stopped Clinton from peddling the false claim, even as she fundraises with an NRA-friendly governor.

Expect the issue to come flare up once again, as Hillary tries to position herself to the left of Sanders on gun control, hoping people forget she attacked Obama in 2008 for being too strict on guns.


​Fracking

Sanders has frequently taken Clinton to task on her unclear position on fracking. While Sanders has categorically rejected fracking and called for a national ban, Clinton has given answers designed not to give a clear answer.

As Secretary of Sate, Clinton supported fracking globally and lauded natural gas development as an economic boon.  Yet now, Clinton says she supports New York State’s ban on fracking.

The question is likely to come up again. The answer might depend on which Hillary shows up. 


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