Democratic Primary Debates

Republican Primary Debates

9th Democratic Presidential Primary Debate

April 14, 2016 9PM ET

Duggal Greenhouse
Brooklyn, New York


Sponsored by:  CNN and Time Warner Cable’s NY1
Moderated by:  CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, with Dana Bash and Errol Louis
Broadcast by:  CNN
   
Participants:  Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders











The ninth Democratic primary debate took place at the Duggal Greenhouse on the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York. It was hosted by CNN and Time Warner Cable Company's NY1. Veteran moderator and journalist Wolf Blitzer once again stepped up to oversee the contest, with Dana Bash and Errol Louis contributing questions.

This was the first debate since the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, and the last before the important New York primary, which many – including the frontrunner herself – considered crucial to the success of Hillary Clinton's campaign. By sheer political momentum, Clinton could be argued to have been on the defensive going into this debate, as rival Bernie Sanders had won eight of the last nine primaries and caucuses. Nevertheless, reaping the benefits of a combination of earlier wins at the polls and sweeping support from the Democratic party's superdelegates, Clinton went to New York with a commanding lead that most analysts had deemed virtually insurmountable.

The contest was passionate and animated, with the candidates challenging and criticizing one another without reservation or restraint. Each contender proved more willing to exceed their time and talk over their opponent as compared to previous debates, occasionally rolling into heated exchanges that were barely intelligible for the level of simultaneous speaking. “If you're both screaming at each other,” moderator Wolf Blitzer sternly told both candidates in an attempt to restore order, “the viewers won't be able to hear either of you.”

Sanders called out some old weapons against Clinton tonight, referring to the second Iraq war (for which Clinton had voted) as “the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history.” He also summoned previous criticisms of Clinton's willingness to accept large campaign donations from monied interests on Wall Street, and cited his assertion that she had failed to act against big banks during the financial crisis as evidence that she was bought by the contributions. Clinton defended herself by declaring that she had indeed stood up to and “called out” the banks, prompting Sanders to slash at her sarcastically: “Secretary Clinton called them out? Oh my goodness, they must have been crushed by that!”

Clinton, meanwhile, seemed to adopt a strategy of redirecting some of Sanders' attacks and previous political positions into perceived criticisms of President Barack Obama. When the Dodd-Frank bill was brought up, for instance, Clinton spoke of Sanders' opposition, and declared that the person he was truly opposing was the president. She also implied that Sanders lacked substance in his strikes against her, pointedly stating on more than one occasion that he could not provide concrete examples of the failures of which he accused her. Some analysts later assessed that Sanders had been left staggered by this.

It was one of the moderators who seemed to deliver a hard blow against Clinton, however, when Dana Bash brought up Sanders' criticisms of her persistent refusal to release transcripts of speeches she had made to wealthy corporate entities for strong pay. Clinton noticeably deflected the moderator's question, offering no answer as she instead asked to see Sanders' tax statements. Dana Bash pressed her, soon drawing loud applause from the audience each time she demanded a direct response. Clinton eventually agreed that she would release her transcripts when “everyone else” who had made speeches released theirs. Sanders immediately pounced, challenging her to release her high-paid speeches, as he himself had none. He also answered her request for his taxes, pledging to disclose a full year of them the day after the debate.

The “Fight for $15” movement, pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, was discussed, with both candidates expressing their support. Clinton advocated a $15 minimum wage for the state of New York, while saying the federal minimum should be raised to at least $12. Sanders called for $15 across the board, and wondered how Clinton could claim to support Fight for $15 when she really only wanted $12 for most of the country. Clinton responded that she would indeed back a $15 federal minimum wage if she had a Democratic congress behind her to approve it. She returned fire on the issue of gun control, slamming Sanders for his opposition to the Brady Bill and his calls for legislated immunity of firearms manufacturers when their weapons are used in the commission of crimes.

Other subjects brought up included climate change, political turmoil in Libya, and the severity of Israeli responses to Palestinian attacks. The candidates later went on to discuss their mutual electability, with each claiming that he or she was the better choice against the Republicans.

The evening concluded with the usual closing statements. Sanders returned to his previous attacks on Clinton's acceptance of big money, asking how she could truly support working families when she was so closely aligned with the rich, and delivered an inspirational message of unity in the Democratic party. To the Brooklyn audience, Clinton spoke of herself as a member of the New York community, thanking her audience for electing her twice as their Senator and reminding them that she had worked with them during such crises as the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


9th Democratic Presidential Primary Debate










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