San­ders, Clin­ton: Flint needs our help

Demo­cratic hope­fuls de­bate trade, guns and Trump, while vy­ing for votes in Michi­gan

Chicago Sun-Times - - ELECTIONS 2016 - Richard Wolf

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.

SCOTT OLSON, GETTY IM­AGES

Hil­lary Clin­ton joined Bernie San­ders in call­ing for Gov. Rick Sny­der to re­sign.

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