Clinton drives home her point against the Bern

2016-03-07 18:05
People chant before the Democratic presidential primary debate in Flint. (Rachel Woolf,The Flint via AP)

People chant before the Democratic presidential primary debate in Flint. (Rachel Woolf,The Flint via AP)

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Washington - The Democratic contest for the presidential nomination returned to the headlines as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed in the latest debate over their records, with the former secretary of state defending her Wall Street ties and the Vermont senator fighting off accusations he abandoned the American auto industry in the Great Recession.

The change in tone signalled Sanders' increasingly difficult effort to slow the party's front-runner. But the debate was nothing like the show the Republicans put on in their last debate, which was marked by a steady stream of personal attacks and even sexual innuendo.

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

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

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 added, "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."

In her most pointed thrust, Clinton said Sanders had voted against a 2009 bailout of car makers, adding, "I went with them. You did not. If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking 4 million jobs with it."

They debate took place in Flint, Michigan, one of the cities badly damaged by the near-collapse of the major car manufacturers.

Sanders countered that the money for the auto industry was part of a larger bailout package for Wall Street, adding, "I will be damned if it was the working people of this country who have to bail out the crooks on Wall Street."

Ultimately, President George W Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson agreed to provide $23.4bn for the auto industry from the federal bailout money for the financial sector.

Both Clinton and Sanders made a case for being the best candidate to defeat Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the November general election.

Clinton said she's got 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 said polls show "Sanders versus Trump does a lot better than Clinton versus Trump."

In the race for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has at least 1 130 delegates to Sanders' 499, including super delegates - members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice. It takes 2 383 delegates to win the nomination.

Read more on:    bernie saunders  |  hillary clinton  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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