Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did not shy away from harsh attacks during the debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Thursday night as they tried to distinguish themselves before the New York primary on April 19.
While Sanders retreated from his remarks last week that Clinton is not qualified to be president, he questioned her judgement on some decisions, including her votes for the Iraq War, trade agreements that he said cost the United States jobs, and her acceptance of campaign contributions from Wall Street.
Clinton fired back, questioning Sanders’ ability to enact the promises he has made throughout his campaign, citing his recent interview with the New York Daily News when he was questioned about how he would break up the banks.
They argued over whether Clinton has stood up to the big banks, which has been one of Sanders’ main critiques during his campaign.
“I spoke out against Wall Street when I was senator of New York," Clinton said.
Sanders responded with some sarcasm. "Secretary Clinton 'called them out,'" he said. "They must have been really crushed by this."
He also denounced Clinton for "giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000," and declared that he has never made a private speech to any Wall Street banks.
Sanders questioned Clinton’s commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 and expanding social security, which he said he has supported longer than she has. Clinton criticized Sanders’ plans for universal health care and free tuition for higher education, saying his numbers don’t add up.
Clinton also said Sanders “has been a largely, very reliable supporter of the NRA.” Sanders refuted that, saying he has received a D-minus voting record from the National Rifle Association. Sanders was recently criticized for saying he does not believe gun manufacturers should be sued when their weapons are used to kill people, but he said he does not believe he owes the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 an apology for that.
The two went back and forth about their positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sanders said Clinton had no concern for the Palestinian people in a speech she gave about the conflict, but Clinton argued that, as Secretary of State, she “was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.”
Both touted their successes throughout the campaign. Clinton reminded viewers that she has won the most votes out of any candidate, as well as received more endorsements from superdelegates. Sanders, however, reminded voters that he has won eight of the last nine primaries and caucuses and received the most individual campaign contributions of any candidate in America’s history.
The two also made sure to mention their individual ties to New York.
“The people of New York voted for me twice,” Clinton said, reminding the crowd that she was a senator for the state for eight years. She asked for their support again, promising to take “New York values to the White House.”
“I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the son of an immigrant” Sanders, who lived in what is now Midwood, Brooklyn, said. He reminded voters that he had a background similar to many middle class Americans.