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Flint, Michigan was the host of Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s seventh debate, which featured the exchange of open hostility and showed us that Clinton’s not as immune to emotions as one might think and that Sanders definitely has no problem with sticking up for himself. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, so here are the basics:
- They agreed on the root causes of the city’s drinking water crisis and have both called for a massive federal intervention and investigation of the lead poisoning crisis there. They also agreed that the state’s Republican governor Rick Snyder should either be recalled or resign.
- However, the two Democratic candidates clashed over the role of trade deals as far as Michigan’s economic deterioration is concerned, as well as how useful the Export-Import Bank and the state of manufacturing are in the country in general.
- Secondly, they openly disagreed about gun control issues and about finding the best way to expand health care coverage to a maximum number of Americans.
- Finally, as expected, they had completely opposite views of whether President Bill Clinton helped or hurt African-Americans while in office.
It is normal for candidates to show sparks of tension from time to time, but the atmosphere in Flint was, according to some, on the brink of becoming a real hassle. When Clinton mentioned cracking down on U.S. companies that move jobs overseas or move their corporate HQs in order to dodge U.S. taxes, Sanders was scornful. To quote him:
“I am very glad that Secretary Clinton discovered religion on this issue. But it’s a little bit too late.”
Clinton is already quite famous for being completely unable to handle any kind of criticism, which she openly displayed when she made numerous attempts to interrupt a part of Sanders’ speech that followed.
Sanders began with:
“If you are talking about the Wall Street bailout where some of your friends destroyed this economy…”
But Clinton was quick to react, attempting to steal the spotlight away while Sanders calmly reminded her that he was the one talking.
Clinton then said:
“If you’re going to talk, tell the whole story”
To which Sanders responded with:
“Let me tell my story, you tell yours.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. There were also hostile exchanges regarding Sanders’ greatest weakness in the primaries, according to Clinton – she noted that Sanders is openly against making gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their products, calling it a blanket immunity that no other industry can possibly enjoy. Sanders responded by saying that Clinton was talking about a position whereby the U.S. couldn’t produce any guns, with which he completely disagrees.
However, the two candidates didn’t spend the entire evening arguing over trivialities. Both Clinton and Sanders admitted they did not and could not possibly know how it feels to be a person of color in the U.S., with each relating to experiences in their youth that brought them into conflict with the racial schism of their time. Sanders was arrested for protesting discrimination in housing in Chicago while Clinton spoke about the exchanges between her suburban church and the youth of inner-city churches, also in Chicago.
And if you think that this was a squabble, just compare their way of discussing to that of the Republican Party when they have public debates. What Democrats treat as a conflict is something Republicans use to greet each other during public debates. Clinton capitalized on the matter near the end of the evening. Here’s what she said:
“I just want to make one point: 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.”
Sanders agreed with her. If you watched any of the past six Republican debates, you know exactly what they are talking about. At first, the Democratic National Committee wanted to host only four debates. However, the growing pressure to expose the candidates and create more competition between them prompted the National Committee to host additional debates.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders weren’t the only ones on the stage at first – former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland were also there. Webb dropped early, blaming his scant speaking time while O’Malley lasted until the Iowa caucuses, where the voting results indicated he wasn’t really connecting with voters. Since then, Sanders and Clinton have met several times and all their encounters have been progressively less amicable – Sanders had been generous toward the former Secretary of State in the initial debates and even openly helped her deflect criticism for keeping official business on her private server while in office.
As Sanders’ campaign grew into a serious competitor for Clinton, he became more challenging and even went as far as to make hostile remarks, reminding her once that she’s ‘not the president yet.’