***Live Updates*** Dems Square Off in Iowa Town Hall Event

Associated Press
Associated Press

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley will participate in a Monday evening town hall event in Iowa as Sanders closes in on Clinton in the Hawkeye State. Clinton is once again having trouble closing the deal with Iowa’s progressive voters.

The trio will take audience questions in the town hall event that CNN’s Chris Cuomo will moderate at Drake University just a week before Iowans go to caucus.

Unlike her husband (who may have won the 1992 presidential race against President George H.W. Bush with his performance in a town hall debate), the mechanical Hillary Clinton can seem awkward and aloof in unscripted settings. But she has been lucky this election cycle since O’Malley may be more of a stiff plodder than she is. And Sanders has shown that he has no political sense whatsoever by letting Clinton off the hook on numerous occasions during this election cycle. And neither Sanders nor O’Malley resonates with minority voters, which gives Clinton a significant firewall after New Hampshire when minority voters dominate in the party’s primaries.

The last-minute Iowa town hall event (not scheduled opposite important football games), though, may once again expose the weakness of the all-white Democratic field composed of two uninspiring career politicians and an unabashed socialist. Democrats may face a significant enthusiasm gap in the fall, largely because of the country’s dissastsifaciton with President Barack Obama and the inability of their contenders to connect with regular voters.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates.

The most interesting part of the town hall for me was Cuomo asked Sanders, who seems much more fit than Clinton, about his health while completely giving Clinton a pass on the issue just hours after she had a coughing fit on the trail. That’s why they call it the Clinton News Network.

10:59: Brett asks Clinton which president has inspired her the most and she answers Abraham Lincoln.

10:58: When asked about Sanders’s campaign ad, Clinton claims she loves it (completely fake). She then says you “campaign in poetry and govern in prose,” sending a not-so-subtle message that Sanders will not be able to implement his ideas.

10:56: Cuomo treats Clinton with white gloves on the email issue, merely asking if the Des Moines Register’s criticism of her handling of her private email scandal was fair. She says the criticism was “fair” and claims she had no other way of communicating. Clinton says she is not willing to say it was an error of judgment because “nothing I did was wrong.” She says she is happy people are looking at her emails even though some of them are “embarrassing.”

10:54: Clinton says Benghazi is only an issue because Republicans want to keep it an issue. She adds that “she answered every question” at the Benghazi hearings and says “there was nothing new to learn” from her testimony. Except she had a coughing fit then like she had today and Cuomo, who asked Sanders about his health, has ignored any questions about Clinton’s health.

Clinton says the Benghazi hearings make her sad because the country has had plenty of terrorist attacks and Democrats, she claim, never made them partisan issues. She still seems awfully defensive about Benghazi, though.

10:50: A questioner asks what Clinton would say to Republicans if she becomes president.

“That I want to be the president of everyone,” the candidate who said she was proud to have Republicans as “enemies” claims. She says she intends to “find common ground” with Republicans. She cites ex-Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.

Clinton now claims her comments about Republicans being her enemy were “tongue-in-cheek.” In what could be seen as a criticism of Obama, she says the hardest thing to do is build relationships in politics and will be giving all Republicans “bear hugs.”

Clinton on Benghazi hearings, “I came out pretty well.”

10:48: A Muslim questioner asks Clinton about how she would protect the Constitutional rights of all people without marginalizing a community. Clinton says one of the most distressing parts of the campaign has been “the language of Republican candidates, particularly their frontrunner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people.”

She says it has been “particularly harmful” the way Trump has talked about Muslims–American Muslims and Muslims around the world. She says it is “shameful” and “contrary to our values” for Trump to propose a temporary Muslim ban. Clinton also blasts Trump for his “dismissive” and “insulting” approach that is “insulting” and “dangerous in several ways.” She says “American Muslims deserve better” and now they are the “target of Islamophobia and threats.” She says we must stand up against the “bullying” and says she was recently in Minneapolis meeting with Somali-Americans who were on the front lines of protecting their children against radical Islam. Clinton says “our Muslim friends and neighbors” need to be a part of us and with us. She says the same is true of Muslims around the world, and she says it will be tough to put a coalition of Muslim nations together to combat ISIS with Trump’s rhetoric.

10:36: Dick Goodson says he was a “lukewarm” supporter before the Benghazi hearings and came away an avid Hillary supporter after them. He tees up a question about foreign policy for Clinton. She says that “it’s imperative that you do your very best to avoid military action… it should be the last resort not the first choice… to use diplomacy even if it is slow, boring, hard… to continue to persist and be patient to get results and that you should use the enormous capabilities we have to project our values–our cultural values, human rights, respect for the dignity of all people.” Clinton then defends the administration’s Iran Deal and claims she forced them to ultimately deal with the U.S.

Cuomo says her critics will say that the world is less stable re: terrorism under the Obama/Clinton and her Iraq vote. She says her vote for the Iraq War was a “mistake” and he says Obama trusted her judgment and that is why he asked her to become his Secretary of State. She says “there is no time in human history where everything is going well” and we live in an “interconnected world” where people look to the United States to help. She says “we have to be leading” and that means “we have to be smart” in how we “assert our power.” She says she is “very proud of my record as Secretary of State.” Another rambling/spinning answer.

10:35: Elena asks Clinton about Joe Biden’s remarks about her being a “newcomer” to the income inequality issue. She says she has a 40-year record combating racial inequality, sexist inequality, and homophobic inequality. She says since she was a young lawyer, she took on the problem of juveniles in adult jails. She says she was in the “income inequality” fight during her husband’s time in office. Clinton seems awfully defensive/somewhat angry/pedantic in answering the question. Not likable.

10:32: Taylor asks Clinton why young voters are not enthusiastic about her candidacy. He says quite a few people think she is “dishonest.” Clinton says “it depends upon who you are… talking to.” She says she spent time with 10 high school students who are enthusiastic about supporting her. She says she is happy about seeing young people being involved in any way. She says she’s been around a long time and she keeps going forward as people throw more things at her. Clinton says Democrats need a “proven fighter” and hopes the Sanders supporter will “reconsider.”

“I’m still standing,” Clinton says, laughingly claiming that there’s nothing to any of the criticisms directed at her. Trying her best to play victim again, Clinton says she has had  millions spent against her and she “kept going” and talks about the healthcare fight she has been involved in for decades.

10:30: First fake laugh/cackle from Hillary when asked how she is virtually tied with a self-described Socialist. Clinton says the GOP is “talking insults” while Democrats are “talking issues.”

“It’s a tough campaign, and it should be because it’s the hardest job in the world,” she says, saying Iowans really want to vet the people who are running. She claims she is “having a great time” campaigning.

10: 27: Here’s Hillary. Cuomo butters up Clinton by reading Obama’s praise of her. Clinton says she wouldn’t be running for president if she didn’t think it was absolutely necessary for her to do so to build on the progress Obama has made. “We need to build on it and go further,” she says, though the presidency has been her lifelong goal.

10:20: Benjamin asks O’Malley about his dismal standing in national polls and asks how what is the last thing he would say to undecideds to convince them to vote for him. He says Iowa lifted  up Barack Obama to lead our country forward and “we need to build upon his good work” by continuing to move the country forward. O’Malley says he is the only person in the race who has not been a “divider.” O’Malley blasts the “fascist rhetoric” being spewed by Donald Trump and against repeats his barbed wire/Statue of Liberty line. This guy has canned politician written all over him and it says a lot about him/his candidacy that he has not gotten close to receiving the significant chunk of anti-Clinton voters that has always been on the left.

10:18: O’Malley is asked whether is the most important person in the room because of the 15% rule in the Iowa caucuses. I don’t think O’Malley will be this election cycle’s Bill Richardson. He tells his supporters, the few of them that exist, to “hold strong at your caucus” because America is looking for a new leader.

10:15: Jana asks O’Malley about family farming. O’Malley says the issue is a big part of the future of rural America. He says he would like to work with Congress to reduce the barriers to entry to new farmers.

10:13: Brian asks O’Malley about LGBT issues and employment/housing discrimination. O’Malley, after speaking more platitudes, talks up his record in LGBT issues while he was governor of Maryland. He says the “common ground we found” was these issues “being about all of our kids.” He says he will “do everything in my power” to move the nation forward on LGBT issues.

10:08: O’Malley says “economy is not money” and it is the “people.” He also says his story is not that of a “Democratic conversion” and is one of a “Democratic upbringing.” An indirect (and ineffective” shot at Hillary Clinton, who had supported Barry Goldwater. He also says “we are the only species on the planet without full employment.”

10:05: The president of the Des Moines NAACP asks O’Malley about PTSD and the military draft. O’Malley says he will cut youth employment by mandating national service. Re: veterans, O’Malley says another one of his strategic goals is “full employment for veterans” returning from Afghanistan/Iraq. He says a lot of our veterans become “ghost people” and “we’re a better nation than this.”

10:02: Jenna, a Drake University law students, asks O’Malley what issue should be most important to young voters. O’Malley talks about debt-free college. He says the biggest issue young voters should be concerned about is climate change. “Climate change is the greatest business opportunity to come to the United States in 100  years,” he says without irony and not mentioning the numerous crony capitalism scandals associated with “green energy” companies. He touts his plan for “clean energy” jobs and says it is a “big differentiator among the three of us.” No “incrementalism” and no “splitting the loaf” on climate change, says O’Malley.

9:57: Joy asks O’Malley about his zero-tolerance policing as mayor of Baltimore and accuses him of not having fought “structural racism.” He says in 1995, Baltimore had become the most violent and addicted city in America. O’Malley says “yes, Black Lives matter” and argues that he wanted the police to respond to poor black neighborhoods as quickly as they do to white neighborhoods. He says he restored voting rights and decriminalized possession of marijuana and “banned the box” for people with criminal records applying for state employment. He says he made his state the first below the Mason-Dixon line to repeal the death penalty. I have a feeling that black voters are not hearing what O’Malley think they are though.

9:55: O’Malley tells voters that he’s “in this to win this.” The candidate who helped tore Baltimore apart says he can bring the country together and “heal divisions.”

Martin O’Malley takes the stage. CNN hopes that voters do not fall asleep or tune out the town hall.

9:44: Cuomo says Sanders’s brother said he was a great athlete back in the day. Sanders says he was a “pretty good” basketball player and took third place in the NYC indoor one-mile race. Cuomo asks Sanders since he would be the oldest person ever elected president, should he release his medical records before Iowans go to caucus. He says he will.

It will be interesting to see if Cuomo asks Clinton about her health issues since he brought it up with Sanders, who seems a lot healthier than Clinton.

9:45: Sanders says that though Hillary Clinton is a very good person, we have to go beyond establishment politics to combat the challenges America (inequality, poverty, obscene and unfair campaign finance system) is facing.

9:37: Carrie Crawford asks Sanders about gun control. Another question that helps Clinton. He acknowledges that Clinton has focused on the issue and says “that’s politics.” Sanders says that Clinton thought that Obama was “too strong” on gun issues in 2008 and she has changed her stance yet again in 2016. Sanders points out that Clinton is not running her gun control commercials in rural Iowa and is instead saturating the New Hampshire market. Sanders says he has supported instant background checks for two decades and believes “we have to deal with this gun-show loophole.” He says the “strawman situation” should be made a “federal crime.” Cuomo asks Sanders about his shift: gun-manufacturer liability. He says he initially voted for it because the bill prohibited ammunition that would pierce the vests that police wear from being sold and also protected small gun-shop owners from being held liable for the criminal action of their customers.

When Cuomo asks Sanders if he is trying to have it both ways, he says “I don’t think so.” He insists that small gun-shop owners should not be liable for the crimes their customers commit.

Carrie says he likes Sanders’s answers.

9:31: Sanders is asked to respond to Clinton’s campaign commercial, which is conveniently given significant airtime on CNN. Cuomo asks whether Clinton is better prepared than he is. Sanders stands up and says he will “shock everybody” by saying he “likes Hillary Clinton, respects Hillary Clinton.” Sanders says he has tried to keep the discussion at a “high level” and not attack Clinton.

He says the most significant vote regarding foreign policy in modern times was the vote on Iraq and he voted against it. He says “Hillary Clinton voted for the War in Iraq.” He says he fought against the deregulation of Wall Street (does not mention Bill Clinton’s role in deregulating it) and his side lost. He says he led the effort against Wall Street deregulation but again does not explicitly attack Clinton on the issue and just tells voters to look up where Clinton stands on the issue. He says the “Keystone Pipeline” is a dumb idea and wonders why it took Clinton so long to oppose it. Sanders says he didn’t have to think hard before opposing the TPP while it took Hillary Clinton “a long time to come on board” in opposition.

Sanders says experience is important but so is judgment re: his comments about Dick Cheney having “a lot of experience too.”

9:22: Sanders is asked how he is going to fight for women’s rights if he antagonizes Planned Parenthood as the “establishment” in another question that seems to be helping Clinton and highlighting Sanders’s weaknesses. Sanders argues that sometimes the base of an organization looks at the world differently than its leadership and touts his 100% Planned Parenthood voting records. He says Planned Parenthood “does a fantastic job” in defending women’s rights and “talking about sexuality in America.” When asked how he would fight for women better than the first female president, Sanders again cites his record in Congress. He says it is “sexism” that women are making 79 cents on the dollar and calls for more “pay equity.” He says the level of “pay inequality” is extraordinary and talks up raising the minimum wage to a living wage… Sanders says it will impact women more than men.

Sanders says “Hillary Clinton and I have a disagreement on a very important issue.” He says he believes in lifting the cap on taxable Social Security income.

9:20: Ron Edwards asks Sanders about what he would do to overcome GOP resistance to implement his agenda. He says though he is the most progressive person in the race, he has worked with Republicans to get amendments/bills passed. Sanders is sounding a bit like Trump in talking up his deal-making. Quite different from Hillary, who said she was proud to have Republicans as her “enemy.”

9:15: Sanders says he will provide free tuition for college students with a Wall Street “tax on speculation.” He then says the country has an infrastructure that is crumbling (he now mentions Flint, Michigan) and again talks about how corporations cannot stash their earnings in the Cayman Islands and how he’ll force them to bring that money back to help build up the country’s infrastructure.

Sanders says we have more wealth and income inequality in America since 1928 and again talks about the “massive transfer of wealth” from working families to the 1/10 of 1%. He says he demands that Wall Street pays its fair share of taxes. Again, Sanders often seems like a one-trick pony in this race against the “billionaires.”

Americans who happened to tune in to this town hall have seen Sanders argue in favor of extreme tax increases for about ten minutes. Not helpful for Democrats.

9:10: Renea asks Sanders about his “Medicare for all” program, and Sanders says the U.S. is the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare as a right. Sanders uses the opportunity to blast the pharmaceutical industry for making billions of dollars in profits after lobbying/making lavish campaign contributions. Sanders says his “Medicare for all” program will save “middle class people thousands of dollars a year on their healthcare bills.” Sanders doesn’t mention the taxes that would be required for  his proposals until Cuomo mentions that that is one of the criticisms. Sanders says that is “unfair” because “if you are paying $10,000/year to a private insurance company” and will pay $5,000 more in taxes while not paying for insurance, people will not complain. He doesn’t argue whether Americans will get better choices/quality.

“We will raise taxes,” Sanders says. “Yes, we will.”

9:03: Sanders is up first. The candidates will answer questions one at at time, which gives Clinton the advantage because another candidate will not be able to steal the spotlight from her and highlight her weaknesses re: connecting with voters.

Sanders says his message has resonated much “faster and further” than he had thought. He rails against the “rigged economy” that is sustained by a “corrupt campaign finance system” that allows billionaires to spend as much money as they want. Same message from Sanders about needing a “political revolution.”

Sanders reminds Iowans that he opposed the Iraq War.

Gerri Ohde, an “undecided” voter, asks Sanders why he doesn’t seem troubled by being labeled a “socialist.” Sanders said “Democratic Socialism” means that economic rights should exist in the United States and it means to him that there’s something wrong when millions of senior citizens are trying to get by on $11,000 of Social Security benefits. He says government should play a role in ensuring that everyone gets a free education. Sanders says that his ideas are not radical in Scandanavia and other European nations.

CNN promises “tough” questions from voters. We’ll see. The network’s “impartial” analysts often gush over Clinton and Sanders and seem like they are yearning for Sanders or Clinton to be in the White House.


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