A day before their only debate before the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton will participate in a CNN town hall event tonight after they essentially tied in Iowa. Sanders and Clinton have gone back and forth today debating Clinton’s progressive credentials. Sanders called Clinton out for pleading guilty to being a moderate, saying one cannot be a “moderate” and a “progressive.” Sanders said he did not have “progressive” friends who would take so much money from Wall Street like Clinton. Sanders said Clinton was a “progressive” on “some days.” A livid Clinton called Sanders’s attack a “low blow” and then, taking a page out of George W. Bush’s “reformer with results” playbook from 2000, cited her 40-year “progressive record” while also lowering expectations in the Granite State, saying she had no plans to abandon it even though Sanders has a significant home-field advantage.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate the two-hour event, and Breitbart News will be providing live updates.
Clinton tells New Hampshire voters that she loves campaigning in New Hampshire and “you’re going to have to put up with me.” While lowering expectations, she says that some thought it would be best if she skipped New Hampshire because of Sanders’s huge lead. Clinton says she “will not raise middle class taxes” and “we’re going to stick with the Affordable Care Act.” She says we’re going to defend a women’s to an abortion, defend Planned Parenthood, defend marriage equality and end discrimination against LGBT Americans. Clinton says “and we’re going to take on the gun lobby.” She says “I will fight for you every single day in the White House.”
Clinton’s closing hit all of Sanders’s weak points in thirty seconds.
10: 52: Cooper asks what would Clinton be if she could be anonymous for one day. She says “I would put on a baseball cap and sunglasses and sweatpants and a sweatshirt” when she was in the White House and walk around on the Mall and had the best time doing so. She says “there is nothing I like better than being anonymous.” She says she would spend the time in nature, stopping in a bookstore, stopping in a cafe. She says she is fortunate she has her friends from grade school who keep her grounded and “deflate her head.” She gushes about her granddaughter.
Cooper asks what advice she thinks her late mother would give her. She says her mother is her inspiration because of her resilience and life’s experience. Clinton’s mother has been a key part of her campaign this year, so Cooper’s question allows her to hit it out of the park. She says her mother would be encouraging her, be very proud, but be a “little apprehensive” because people say things about her loved ones in politics. She told her mom not to listen to the political chatter but she says her mom says she had to to know what people were saying.
10: 50: Julie says her children are “feeling the bern” asks Clinton what she would say to get them to vote for her.
She wants them to take a look at her record and talks about her work with the Children’s Defense Fund. Clinton uses the time to tout her biography. She points out she was a legal services provider. She speaks about her Children’s Health Insurance Program, her work with foster children, getting healthcare for the National Guard.
She says she has the highest respect for Sanders but, citing the Concord Monitor, points out that it is hard to see how any of his proposals could be achievable. She accuses Sanders of over-promising and talks about restoring trust in America.
She says “I am a progressive who gets results and I will be a progressive president who gets results.”
She says it is “still the case that there are challenges to young women’s ambitions” and vows to break the ‘highest and hardest glass ceiling.” She adds, “I hope it splinters completely.” She says she hopes it will open doors for her daughters.
10: 48: Clinton says she will do a lot to “decriminalize marijuana” for medicinal purposes when asked about the issue. She wants to move it from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug so people can use it while the government does more research.
Clinton wants to accelerate the research because she has no doubt there are real benefits to people if they “use the right amount of the right kind of marijuana.”
Clinton also uses the moment to talk about the addiction problem in New Hampshire. She says she has been working with the state’s elected officials to figure out a new approach to combat drug/alcohol addiction.
10: 41: Cooper asks Clinton to respond to those who think she represents corporations/Wall Street.
“Look, that’s just not the case,” she claims.
Clinton says the best answer to this is “everybody that I know… sees the same thing– the Wall Street interests, the monied interests, the Republican interests… are spending a lot of money to defeat me.”
Clinton rails against “inversion” (she says “we’re going to go right after” companies like Johnson Controls) and calls it a “perversion” and says we should go after those companies. She wants to go after Pharmaceutical companies for price gouging. She wants to respectfully say that Sanders’s target is too small re: going after big banks and hypes Dodd-Frank.
Cooper asks why “big banks” are paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches. When asked if this was an “error in judgment,” she punts and says she gave speeches to a lot of groups. When Cooper asked if she had to be paid six figures, Clinton “well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered.”
She claims that she “wasn’t committed to running.” When an incredulous Cooper asks she didn’t think she was going to run for president, Clinton says she thought “she was done” and decided to do so when so many people asked her to fight against Republicans who wanted to destroy her husband’s legacy (things Democrats accomplished in the 1990s.)
Clinton asks “name anything they’ve influenced me on. Just name one thing.” She claims because she talks about breaking up banks, etc. she cannot be influenced. Cooper did a great job pressing her on the speeches.
Clinton says she doesn’t regret having given those speeches for $600,000 a pop.
Hillary Claims She Never Thought She Would Be Running for President
10: 33: Rabbi Jonathan, an independent, says that another Rabbi once said that every person must carry a note in one pocket that says “the universe was created for me” while the note in the other pocket says “I am just dust and ashes.” He asks how she cultivates the ego we must have to be the leader of the free world/humility to recognize you can’t be wise about all the things the president needs to be responsible for.
She says she thinks about this a lot because she is a “person of faith.” She says she has had to deal/struggle with issues of ambition/humility.
“This is hard for me,” she says. Clinton claims she never thought she would be running for president (really?). “I never thought I would do this,” she insists.
She says she has had to come to grips re: talking about herself and what she wants to do for people she meets on the campaign trail.
10: 30: Clinton is asked what she will do to make Americans trust her again.
She claims that when you have been subjected to the level/velocity of attacks that come every day, it’s normal for people to wonder if there may be something to them.
She says Obama picked her to be his Secretary of State because he trusted her judgment. She says she trusts the America people/people of New Hampshire to see her “lifetime of work and service” and to “sort out all of the static.”
Hillary Still Believes in ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’ Against Her
10: 27: A Clinton supporter from Derry asks how she would defend herself from right-wing attacks if nominated.
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” she says.
Clinton says “I was unrecognizable to myself” when Republicans and talk radio attacked her during the 1990s health care debate. She says she has learned how to take criticism “seriously but not personally.”
“My understanding of the political tactics that the other side uses is pretty well-versed,” she says. “They play to keep. They play to destroy. They are constantly doing whatever they can to win.”
She again claims that hedge-fund Super Pacs are running ads against her and she says it is flattering that those Pacs and Karl Rove are running ads against her.
Re: “untrue, terrible attacks,” Clinton says, “it’s unlike anything you’ve ever gone through.”
“I’m still standing and I’m still standing,” she says.
Cooper asks if she believes if there is a vast right-wing conspiracy.
“Don’t you?” she asks while cackling. “It’s gotten even better funded. They’ve brought in new multi-millionares to pump the money in.”
Clinton says they want to destroy unions and go after any economic interest they can’t control while destroying our “balance of power” while “going after our political system” and fill it with “people who will do their bidding.”
She blasts the Koch Brothers for controlling Republicans and says the “conspiracy” is now “out in the open.”
It’s worth nothing that one of Trump’s great selling points is that he is beholden to nobody while Clinton has accepted millions from various interests at home and abroad.
10: 25: Rebecca, a former NH state legislator, asks Clinton what she has learned from her Iraq vote. Clinton says she admitted that she made a mistake and it “arose from… the Bush administration’s approach to what they thought they could accomplish in Iraq” and the “very explicit appeal” that Bush made before announcing the invasion re: completing weapons inspections.
10: 22: Cooper asks Clinton whether women should have to register for the draft, and she says, “if we are going to open combat positions to qualified women… then we have expanded the definition of the all-volunteer military.” She says she has to think about whether it is necessary to go as far as our military officers are recommending. She says the idea of having everybody registers “concerns me a little bit” but says she wants everyone to be able to register at 18 to be able to vote.
10: 19: A questioner asks whether Clinton will “not expand our military involvement abroad.”
“No, I can’t, Michael,” she says. “I’d like to be able to say I could.”
Clinton says she has been in the crucible of making a lot of hard decisions. She says military force must always be the “last resort” and says that’s a big difference between her/Republicans even though Clinton voted for the Iraq War.
She says she will do everything she possibly can to avoid sending American troops abroad. But she says there may be a time where it may be in America’s “national interest” to send combat troops abroad. She vows not to send American troops to Iraq/Syria.
She vows to a “careful, deliberate” decision-maker when facing “hard choices.”
10:15: A questioner with colon cancer asks Clinton about end of life decisions. Clinton says this is the first time she has been asked this question and “I thank you for it because we need to have a conversation in our country.” She says there are more states that are trying to advance decisions while the camera accidentally/creepily ZOOMS in on Clinton’s face.
She says many people are living longer with very serious illnesses and says she doesn’t have an easy answer. She wants to immerse herself in ethical/religious/health/scientific writings and learn what other countries like the Netherlands deal with the issue. She says we have to make sure nobody is coerced so it is a “difficult line to draw.”
10:10: A high school English teacher asks Clinton about litmus tests for Supreme Court Justices.
“I have a bunch of litmus tests,” she says. Clinton says the next president may appoint three Justices and she wants someone who doesn’t have a “knee-jerk” reaction to support business and the idea that “money is speech.” Voting rights is another. She has “we have to preserve marriage equality,” “preserve Roe v. Wade,” and do more to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community. She wants people “rooted in the real world” who understands the “balance of power” that makes America’s political system great. Another rambling answer that tries to check off all of the boxes.
10:03: Cooper asks Clinton whether she really is a progressive. Clinton says she is a “progressive who likes to get things done.” She says she was amused that Sanders set himself up as the “gatekeeper on who is a progressive” because under Obama, Biden, Shaheen and even the late Paul Wellstone would not be a progressive under the standards being thrown around on social media and by the Sanders campaign. She says Sanders’s comments don’t help and she says that it not appropriate for groups like Planned Parenthood to be thrown out of the progressive wing and be put into the establishment for endorsing her.
“You think so?” Clinton responds when Cooper says it obviously would be historic if she is elected. Cooper says that young women are not rallying to her historic candidacy and Sanders trounced her by 70 percentage points in Iowa among women voters under 30.
“That’s amazing!” she responds. Clinton says she knows she has work to do to convey what she stands for and what she wants to do for young people. After saying she has no idea why young people are not supporting her, she says “they don’t have to be for me. I’m going to be for them.”
Clinton says she gets the sense that young people in this generation are feeling “disadvantaged” with stagnant wages and student loans. But she says she has been impressed by the level of commitment of Millennials in going after sexism, racism, economic injustice and fighting for LGBT issues and climate change issues.
She says “good ideas on paper are important” but you “you’ve got to be able to translate them into action. To get results for people. I have a lot of experience doing that.” She thinks she can deliver “positive change” for young people.
When asked what is wrong with a “revolution,” Clinton says that that is for Sanders to explain.
She sets herself up as the defender of Obama’s legacy by saying she wants to defend the Affordable Care Act. She says Obamacare was called “Hillarycare” before it was called Obamacare and claims that she knows what it is like to go against the special interests. She says she doesn’t agree with Sanders’s plan to “start over” for his “Medicare for All” program.
10:oo: Cooper says New Hampshire has always been great to the Clintons and asks how it has been in the Granite State. Clinton says she has seen a lot of old friends and meeting a lot of new people. She says she “has an uphill climb” and “I’m going to climb as high and hard as I can” because she wants to make her case to the people of New Hampshire. She says the New Hampshire primary is truly a great opportunity to “get vetted by the people of New Hampshire.”
Cooper asks whether Clinton does better when she is fighting from behind, and she avoids the question and says the goal has to be preventing Republicans from taking back the White House and turning back a lot of Obama’s accomplishments.
Clinton says she and Sanders are contrasting on issues while Republicans are “contrasting on insults.”
9:58: Hillary is on deck.
9:57: Sanders says that the “sad truth is we have a rigged economic system” where “people are working longer hour” for lower wages where wealth is going to the top one percent. He says if elected president, he will do his best to revitalize democracy, rebuild the American middle class and take on the billionaires who are corrupting the campaign finance system.
9:56: “Integrity” says Sanders’s wife when asked what one word describes him. Cooper said he thought he heard “anti-Greed.”
9:55: When asked what his proudest moment is, Sanders says “being married for 27 years and having four great kids” and seven “very beautiful grandchildren.”
9:53: Some “get-to-know-you” questions. Sanders says he drives a “small Chevrolet” and says “wouldn’t go that far” when Cooper asks if he chops his own wood. Cooper mentions that Sanders recored an album of folk classics when he was mayor of Vermont, and Sanders says “if you are looking at a president who can carry a tune, I’m not that guy.” Sanders says though it is selling well, “it is the worst album ever recorded.” Cooper wonders if Sanders does a Larry David impersonation. “I am Larry David… and you didn’t get it” Sanders riffs.
9:47: Raul asks Sanders about his electability in a general election. Sanders says in the real world, there are people who like Donald Trump and “we are a diverse political nation.” Sanders says he objects to people who say they like his ideas but won’t vote for him because he can’t win. Sanders says he is not a fan of polls but points out that he does better against Trump than Clinton because he appeals to independents in places like Massachusetts. Sanders says that Democrats “win elections when there is a large voter turnout. That’s what Obama did in 2008. Republicans win elections when people are demoralized and give up on the political process.” Sanders says that there is more excitement in his campaign than in Clinton’s because they are bring out working-class people who had given up on politics in addition to young people. He says he is the strongest candidate to bring in “new energy into the Democratic party” and give Democrats the best chance of winning in November.
When Cooper asks what he would say to independent voters who are deciding between Sanders and Trump, Sanders says to examine Trump’s record/rhetoric carefully and cites Trump’s “bigoted” statements about illegal immigrations and Muslims. Sanders says since Trump is not for raising the minimum wage and said that wages are “too high” in America, independents should vote for Sanders. Sanders also says that Trump the “brilliant scientist” has concluded that “climate change is a hoax brought to us by the Chinese.” Even though Trump’s immigration plan arguably will help the working-class Americans Sanders says he is fighting for (Sanders used to point out that mass immigration drives down the wages of minorities), Sanders accuses Trump of not being for working Americans.
“I want Trump to win the Republican nomination, and I would love the opportunity to run against him,” Sanders says. “I think we would win by a lot.”
9:45: A recovery coach asks Sanders about the state’s heroin problem. He says his main concerns is the availability of opioids and asks Sanders what he would do to secure recovery services for people who have fallen through the cracks. Sanders says it is a “terrible problem” and we have to “understand that substance abuse and addition is a health issue and not a criminal issue.” He then uses the opportunity to say that mental health/addiction should be part of his health revolution so people can be treated and not wait three months to be treated for addiction/mental health issues. Sanders says doctors may have to cut back on opioids and points out that his friend got strong painkiller after getting a mole removed and we need to talk to the pharmaceutical industry/doctors about what they are prescribing.
9:38: Sanders: Obama Let Progressives Down on TPP.
Cooper asks Sanders, “do you believe Hillary Clinton is a progressive?” Sanders says he has tried his best not to attack Clinton even though the media have been urging him to do so. He says he has never run a negative ad in his life. He says that Clinton has a “long and distinguished public career” and says she did a “good job” as Secretary of State. Sanders says there are just some issues where she is “just not that progressive.” Sanders says he doesn’t know any progressive who has a Super Pac and takes $15 million from Wall Street. Sanders says Clinton voted for the Iraq War when progressives were united against Bush. Sanders says progressives think corporate America is writing trade deals in order to “throw American workers out on to the street” and that is one of the reasons why the middle class is struggling so hard. Sanders says Clinton has supported NAFTA and other trade deals but she reluctantly came out against TPP. Sanders says Clinton used to support the Keystone Pipeline and he says “there are no benefits” to it. He says he led the opposition to the Keystone Pipeline while Clinton was supporting it. He says those are just some of the areas where Clinton is not progressive.
Sanders is asked about the blurb he wrote for Bill Press’s Buyer’s Remorse (a book that argues that President Obama left progressives down.” Sanders says Obama let progressives down on TPP.
9:33: Mark Viens asks Sanders whether he sees any limitations re: serving two terms. Sanders says “we’ll take one term at a time” and he kiddingly accuses Cooper of being an “ageist” when Cooper points out that Sanders would be 83 at the end of his second term. Sanders says he used to be a long-distance runner and has always had endurance.
9:30: A former New Hampshire state legislator says Sanders’s “deeply held philosophy” means a lot but points out that Sanders often thinks it’s “my way or the highway.” She asks Sanders how he will work with a Congress that may not share his Socialist views. Sanders says it is not accurate to portray him as a “my way or the highway” candidate. He says he compromised significantly with people like John McCain to pass legislation for veterans. Sanders says that when he was in the House, he reached out and received support for his amendments more than other members because he reached out to Republicans when there was common ground.
But Sanders says that in his view, “we have a Congress today that is much more interested in doing the bidding” of the powerful interests like Wall Street and the Fossil Fuel industry instead of helping average Americans. Sanders says change comes from the bottom up and that is what the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement, and the environmental movement have been about. He says we need another movement to bring about real change in country.
9:25: Keith Howard, the director of Liberty House (the Trump campaign donated some of the funds it raised to this organization), a transitional facility for former veterans, says that Republicans have contacted them but to date they have not heard from any Democrats. He asks, “have you ceded the support of veterans to Republicans. And if you’re answer is no, what is the evidence?” A tough question for Democrats, who are still viewed by many as being weak on security/veterans issues.
Sanders cites his work on the Veterans Committee and talks up healthcare legislation for veterans, which Sanders says only got two Republican votes. Sanders says he has worked throughout his career to ensure veterans get care when they need it not years down the road. “If you check my record, it will tell you that I… received the highest award from the American Legion and the VFW” for work on veterans issues.
When Cooper asks Sanders about the VA scandal, Sanders says that Cooper’s point is fair that Congress/federal government should have acted sooner in Phoenix. He says Congress did pass a post-9/11 GI Bill and a Caregiver’s Act to provide support to people who have to stay at home with disable vets.
9:21: Sanders is asked a police brutality/racial injustice question. Sanders says she has asked an important question that is on the minds of everyone, not just African-Americans. Sanders says that he used to be a mayor and says that the “vast majority of police officers in this country are hard-working, honest and are trying to do their best” in a difficult job.
But he says that “if a police officer breaks the law, like any other public official, that police officer must be held accountable.” Sanders says we have to demilitarize local police departments that look like occupying armies. Sanders says “we have to make police departments look like the communities that they serve.” Fourth, Sanders says that the federal government can play an important role in setting guidelines, like when it is appropriate to use lethal force, which Sanders says should be the last resort. Cooper points out that Sanders was arrested in his twenties trying to desegregate a schoolhouse in Chicago. Sanders said he resented big kids picking on little kids and “injustice bothered me very very much,” when Cooper asked what a white kid from Brooklyn was on the front lines in the desegregation fight.
9:17: A Boston Bombing survivor asks Sanders about terrorism. Sanders says “we have to crush ISIS.” He mentions that he voted against the Iraq War and “we have to learn the lessons from that war.” Sanders says Muslims troops on the ground need to destroy ISIS because ISIS has hijacked their religion. Internally, Sanders says America must significantly improve its intelligence capabilities. He says though he believes America should accept refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, people have to be screened when they come into this country “absolutely thoroughly.” Sanders says we have to track Internet transmission of information. He thanks her for the question and says she is a symbol of courage.
Cooper asked why Iowans believe that Clinton is better able to handle terrorism issues than Sanders, and he mentions that they probably think she has “a great deal of experience.” Sanders says the foreign foreign policy vote in modern American history was whether we should go to war in Iraq and he says that he voted not to go to war, which he says history will judge as the right one. He says it gives him no joy at all re: destabilization of the region that much of what he predicted occurred and says his vote against Iraq is proof of his good judgment.
9:12: Jason says Sanders is his “dream candidate,” but he points out that most people don’t have the same class-based view of the world. He worries that Sanders cannot connect with those who see the world through racial/religious lenses. Sanders says it is a “very good question” and says “we are reaching out as strongly as we can to the African-American community and to the Latino community.” Sanders says he is getting more support from minorities, especially African-Ameriacns, by focusing on criminal justice issues. He says that blacks/whites do marijuana at an equal level but four times more blacks get arrested and blacks are more likely to get stopped in their vehicles. Sanders says “there will be no president who will fight harder to end institutional racism than I will.”
Cooper follows up on the faith question and asks what he would say to faith voters. He says everybody practices religion in a different way and says he would not be running for president if he did not have very religious and spiritual feelings. Sanders talks about empathizing with the elderly and the hungry and worries about a society that doesn’t care for the needy. He says when children/veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts him
9:11: Cooper points out that people may bet nervous hearing Sanders talk about “revolution” and Sanders says his will be different than the “Reagan revolution” or the “Gingrich revolution.” Sanders says when people do not vote, lobbyists and campaign contributors who could care less about the middle class and only about the wealthy fill the vacuum.
9:08: Sanders Vows to Raise Taxes on People ‘Somewhere in the middle of the Economy’
First questioner asks Sanders about raising taxes on the middle class and how that would help him (makes around $40,000 a year) and his family. Sanders says “we’ll raise your taxes” if you are somewhere in the middle of the economy. He says he will raise taxes $500 and claims healthcare costs will be lowered by $5,000. But the line about raising taxes on people who are “somewhere in the middle of the economy” will be a tough sell, though Chris, the questioner, replies that he will gladly pay more in taxes if he doesn’t have to pay healthcare premiums.
Sanders says this campaign is “not just about electing a president” but “creating a political revolution.”
9:06 PM: Sanders: You Can’t Be a Moderate and a Progressive.
Cooper asks Sanders if he is a “Democrat” in his heart and asks is Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) criticism of him as being a Democrat on “some days” is fair, and Sanders says he is proudly running as a Democrat and points out that he was merely quoting Clinton verbatim. He says “you can’t be a moderate and a progressive. There’s a difference.”
9:00 PM EST: Sanders is up first, and Cooper points out that the Sanders campaign has raised nearly $3 million since Iowa. He asks him, “are you feeling the bern?” Sanders replies, “yes, I am.” He says the his campaign message is resonating and goes right to his main issue–campaign finance. Sanders says while other candidates raise millions from Wall Street, he is moved that millions of people have donated an average of $27. Sanders says he is still an underdog in New Hampshire despite his lead, saying the Clinton organization is the most powerful in America and her family has a history of winning the state. Sanders says he was 40 points behind Clinton with no name recognition when the race started. He lashes out at the “media game” that has established him as the clear frontrunner in the Granite State.