Sanders, Clinton: Flint needs our help
Democratic hopefuls debate trade, guns and Trump, while vying for votes in Michigan
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tangled over trade, guns, the auto industry and the water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Sunday in their seventh Democratic presidential debate.
With Clinton seeking to put away the race for the party’s nomination during the next few weeks, Sanders targeted her support for previous trade agreements, which he said “resulted in the shrinking of the American middle class.”
The attack in the heart of the industrial Midwest was intended to wrest Tuesday’s upcoming primary away from Clinton, who had a 56%- 31% lead in a Detroit Free PressWXYZ poll released late Saturday.
Michigan boasts the 8th- largest trove of delegates in the Democratic race.
After Michigan and Mississippi voters cast ballots Tuesday, the race shifts to five big states voting a week later: Florida, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri.
The former secretary of State responded to Sanders’ attack on trade instantly, accusing him of opposing the 2001 auto bailout
“I voted to save the auto industry. He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry.”
Hillary Clinton referring to Bernie Sanders
— which Sanders noted was incorporated into the Wall Street bailout that he opposed.
“I voted to save the auto industry. He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry,” Clinton said. If Sanders’ position had succeeded, she said, the auto industry would have collapsed, “taking 4million jobs with it.”
Even as the pair debated at Flint’s Whiting Auditorium, voters were caucusing in Maine on Sunday, which Sanders won. Clinton has a lead in delegates of 1,130 to 499, thanks in part to party super- delegates.
Clinton and Sanders will have only three days to recover from the Michigan debate before their next one in Miami on Wednesday night. But they took time Sunday to look ahead to the general election contest — possibly against Donald Trump.
“I think that Donald Trump’s bigotry, his bullying, his bluster, are not going to wear well on the American people,” Clinton said.
Sanders said polls show him beating Trump by more than Clinton would. Noting both he and Clinton have talked about investing in mental health, he said, “When you watch these Republican debates, you know why.”
The candidates came together in a city struggling for the past two years with lead infested water that city, state and federal officials recognized and overlooked.
The two Democrats both visited Flint recently to call attention to the water crisis, criticize local officials and vow assistance. On Sunday, Clinton for the first time joined Sanders in calling for Gov. Rick Snyder to resign or face a recall election.
“It is raining lead in Flint, and the state is derelict in not coming forward with the money that is required,” Clinton said.
Sanders said Flint residents should not have to pay for the lead- polluted water, and he said the Centers for Disease Control should test everyone in the city.
Both Clinton and Sanders said people should be fired for the Flint fiasco, but they stopped short of saying that should include top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency. Rather, Sanders said, he “would fire anyone who knew what was happening and did not act appropriately.”
The candidates agreed on many domestic issues but differed once again on crime and guns. Clinton criticized Sanders for voting to grant immunity to gunmakers in a 2005 vote. “We should very seriously move to repeal that,” she said.
Sanders said that suing a gunmaker whose weapon ends up in the hands of someone who is mentally ill would shutter gun manufacturing in the nation.
Clinton and Sanders have engaged in a topsy- turvy race. Clinton narrowly won the Iowa caucuses, the Vermont senator took neighboring New Hampshire, and then Clinton began to stretch her lead by capturing Southern states before, during and after last week’s Super Tuesday contests.
On Saturday, Sanders won contests in Kansas and Nebraska, while Clinton won Louisiana. She is approaching the halfway point toward the 2,382 delegates needed to win the nomination.
Now the two Democrats are waging an intense battle across the Midwest, with major primaries coming in Ohio and Illinois as well. Sanders seeks support from working- class residents, while Clinton relies on labor unions and minorities.
Hillary Clinton joined Bernie Sanders in calling for Gov. Rick Snyder to resign.