New rancor in Clinton-Sanders debate

  • 07/03/2016
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Reuters)
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tangled aggressively in a Democratic presidential debate over trade, Wall Street influence and more, with Clinton accusing him of turning his back on the car industry and Sanders countering that Clinton's friends on Wall Street had "destroyed this economy".

It was a marked change in tone for the two Democrats, signalling Sanders' increasingly difficult effort to slow the party's front runner.

Both candidates frequently interrupted one another and accused each other of misrepresenting their records at the debate in Flint, Michigan, on Sunday night (local time).

"Let's have some facts instead of some rhetoric for a change," Clinton snapped at Sanders at one point.

"Let me tell my story, you tell yours," Sanders shot back at another. "Your story is voting for every disastrous trade amendment and voting for corporate America."

More than once, Sanders chafed at Clinton's interruptions, saying, "Excuse me, I'm talking" or "Let me finish, please."

Their disagreements were clear, but still the debate's tone was nothing like that of the Republican debate in Detroit just three days earlier, a four-way face off that was marked by a steady stream of personal attacks, insults and even sexual innuendo.

The Democrats' face off, in comparison, was a more civil if heated affair.

Clinton said that while she and Sanders have their differences on policy, "compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week".

Sanders chimed in, "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."

Both had a good laugh at that.

Each made a case for being the best candidate to defeat Republican front runner Donald Trump in a November match-up.

Clinton said she's gotten more votes than Trump in the primaries, and predicted that his "bigotry, his bullying, his bluster are not going to wear well on the American people".

Sanders declared: "I would love to run against Donald Trump," adding that polls show "Sanders vs Trump does a lot better than Clinton vs Trump".

Sanders also took direct aim at the former secretary of state's paid speeches to Wall Street banks and other financial companies. She promised to release transcripts of her private remarks only if all her opponents -- Democratic and Republican -- did the same.

"I'm your Democratic opponent, I release it," Sanders said, throwing imaginary speech transcripts into the air. "Here it is. There ain't nothin'. I don't give speeches to Wall street for hundreds of thousands of dollars."

In the race for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has at least 1130 delegates to Sanders' 499, including superdelegates -- members of congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice. It takes 2383 delegates to win the nomination.