Clinton, Sanders exchange shots in heated fifth debate
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT) faced off in New Hampshire this Thursday during MSNBC’s fifth presidential debate. According to CNN, Thursday’s debate was highly praised by political observers, but poorly received by its 4.5 million ordinary viewers, earning by far the lowest ratings of the debates in the 2016 election cycle.
Thursday’s debate exhibited the key differences between the two Democratic candidates. Although both showed their weaknesses, they presented convincing arguments that were met with applause from the audience.
Sanders clearly placed economic reform at the top of his priorities as the democratic nominee, whereas Clinton stated that she wanted to build on the progress the United States has made under Obama’s presidency and continue reforming healthcare, immigration policy, climate regulations, and gun laws with equal priority.
Sanders emphasized that the United States’ current economic structure is the greatest weapon working against democracy, speaking to the national concern about the political system’s representation of wealthy individuals and large corporations instead of the American people.
“There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. It is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country,” Sanders said.
Clinton, who has received millions of dollars in speaking fees and donations from Wall Street, addressed Sanders’ implication of her own corruption. She noted that Obama had also received donations from Wall Street during his campaign, and asked that Sanders directly speak to the issue of her donations.
“The root of that word, progressive, is progress, but I’ve heard Senator Sanders’ comments and it’s really caused me to wonder who’s left in the progressive wing of the Democratic party,” Clinton said.
Clinton previously received $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, but hedged away when asked if she would release the transcripts of her speeches.
Clinton maintained that, as a progressive herself, she wants to build on the education and healthcare reforms that have already been initiated in the country. In previous years, Clinton herself pushed for these reforms and promised that she would continue fighting to improve them. She argued that Sanders’ plans for free higher public education and free universal healthcare would dismantle the progress that has already been made and force the country to start the fight over.
Sanders, however, proposed a plan for providing American people with the right for free healthcare and higher education. He noted the nations large income gap and how little large corporations are currently taxed, and implied that the money that would come from taxing these corporations would be able to pay for both healthcare and higher education.
Sanders also stated that free, public, secondary school education was no longer enough for Americans. He denied that his plan to provide working class Americans with affordable healthcare and education would dismantle any sort of previous progress.
Clinton stood out in her foreign policy arguments. She highlighted her experience as secretary of state and demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the subject than Sanders. Sanders himself stated that Clinton was the best qualified candidate of the two to handle foreign affairs.
Clinton listed her qualifications for addressing foreign affairs as president, emphasizing the importance of foreign policy during a time of international crisis.
Both candidates expressed a desire to withdraw American troops from the Middle East but their opinions on the greatest potential military threats differed. Clinton explained her concern about increased tensions with Russia, while Sanders expressed a great deal of unease about North Korea.
Another notable difference between the two candidates is their opinion on capital punishment. Clinton contended that the death penalty should be permissible under extreme circumstances, but Sanders argued that the penalty should never be used due to issues of racial injustices and discrepancies between states.
“In a world of so much violence and killing, I just don’t believe that government itself should be part of the killing,” Sanders said.
Clinton and Sanders are scheduled to debate again next Thursday in Wisconsin. The debate will be the sixth of the current primary season.