I'll be live-blogging tonight's Democratic debate — the first debate since the Iowa caucuses revealed how close the race is between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and the only Democratic debate between then and the New Hampshire primary.
Keep reloading this post for more updates. For more live-blogging, check out TPM.
9:03 — This is the first debate with just the two of them. Unlike in previous debates, when each candidate would walk out one by one, this time we see them both walking toward the camera, side by side.
9:05 — Sanders gives an opening statement hitting his familiar notes: the economy is "rigged"; campaign finance is "corrupt."
9:06 — In her opening statement, Clinton says "yes, of course" those things Sanders said are true — but we also need to focus on racism, sexism, and discrimination against LGBT people (implying that Sanders is less concerned about those issues since he didn't mention them in his opening statement).
9:07 — Clinton says she and Sanders "share big progressive goals." But she doesn't "believe in free college." This is an implicit response to Sanders's recent comments that Clinton can't call herself both "progressive" and "moderate." She cleverly argues that "a progressive is someone who makes progress," and Sanders's agenda isn't "achievable."
9:11 — Clinton repeats her usual argument that she'd "improve" Obamacare, but Sanders would scrap the system. Sanders points out that he participated in writing Obamacare — "The idea that I would dismantle health care in America, while we're getting ready to have Medicare for all, is just not accurate."
9:14 — Clinton lists other Democrats who wouldn't be considered "progressive" under Sanders's definition — including Obama, Biden, and Senator Paul Wellstone (who died in 2002) — because Wellstone "voted for DOMA." The point about Wellstone and DOMA seems like an odd one for Clinton to make. The Defense of Marriage Act is now universally reviled among liberals, and Clinton has to worry that Democratic primary voters will be turned off by the fact that she used to be passionately opposed to same-sex marriage, and was pretty late in coming around to the right position.
9:22 — Rachel Maddow asks Sanders about the fact that he's not really a Democrat. Sanders proudly declares: "I am the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress." Maddow says Sanders was a spoiler in a race in the '80s that was won by a Republican, but Sanders points out that he only lost that race by a few points — "the Democrat was the spoiler!"
9:25 — Sanders says "almost the entire establishment" is supporting Clinton, while millions of "people" have supported Sanders by giving him contributions averaging $27. Clinton says Sanders is the only person who'd describe Clinton as "exemplifying the establishment" when she's "a woman running to be the first woman president."
9:28 — Clinton says "it's time" to end Sanders's "artful smear" and "innuendo" about her donations and speaking fees from Wall Street. "If you've got something to say, say it, directly!" The audience gets riled up, going "Ooooh!" when Clinton says the word "smear." [VIDEO.]
9:31 — Clinton says Sanders voted for financial deregulation in 2000 which led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Apparently she realized that she's seemed too defensive on this issue and she needed to go on the offensive.
9:40 — Clinton is asked again about her Wall Street speaking fees. She says Wall Street clearly knows where she stands since Wall Street has been spending millions of dollars against her primary campaign, at which point Sanders rolls his eyes.
9:42 — Sanders goes on a diatribe against Wall Street. "Kid gets caught with marijuana — that kid gets sent to jail. A Wall Street executive destroys the entire economy — $5 billion settlement, no criminal record."
9:43 — Clinton tries to move to Sanders's left by saying she'd "take us further" in taking action against "corporate power."
9:46 — Chuck Todd asks Clinton if she's release all the transcripts of all her paid speeches. Clinton seems slightly little taken aback by that sweeping request, which she quickly brushes off — "I don't know, I'll look into it" — before using the rest of her time to get back to her talking points.
Bill Scher responds to the question about transcripts of Clinton's speeches:
Pro-tip: conspiracies don't have transcripts9:49 — Sanders: "The business model of Wall Street is fraud."
9:57 — Clinton says it's "off the table" to deploy ground troops against ISIL. She agrees with President Obama's current strategy except that she'd give "more support for the people on the ground."
9:59 — Sanders "agree[s] with much" of what Clinton said about ISIL. In fact, he doesn't suggest that there's any difference between them on that. Instead, he switches to reminding us that he was against the Iraq war and Clinton voted for it.
10:00 — Todd asks Sanders how long he'd leave the 10,000 troops in Afghanistan which Obama will leave for him. He doesn't specifically answer the question. He goes back to talking about ISIL, saying we need "Muslim troops on the ground" to fight ISIL; American ground troops would be targets.
10:02 — Clinton gets into a lot more details of what's going on in Afghanistan. She also doesn't give a specific answer about how long she'd leave our troops there, but her answer on Afghanistan sounds much more impressive than Sanders's.
10:03 — Todd asks Sanders why foreign policy doesn't seem to be one of his big issues, and why he hasn't given a major foreign-policy speech. "I gave a speech about democratic socialism and foreign policy. Maybe I shouldn't have combined the two of them into the same speech!" Only the former part got any attention.
10:06 — Clinton brings up a couple of Sanders's past statements on foreign policy and says they're very questionable. Clinton says it's "not acceptable" for Sanders to say "I'll get to that when I can." Sanders: "I fully concede that Secretary Clinton, who was Secretary of State for 4 years, has more experience . . . on foreign affairs." But Sanders again reminds us . . . she voted for the Iraq war.
10:10 — Sanders bring up Clinton's dispute with Obama from 2008 about whether to "talk to our enemies." Clinton says she's going to "correct the record": the question in 2008 was about whether to meet with them "without conditions." It's unusual to see Clinton (implicitly) criticizing Obama like that now, 8 years later. Clinton points out that the Obama administration talked with Iran only after satisfying various conditions — effectively saying "Told ya!" to Obama.
10:14 — Clinton refers to the Iran deal with an incomprehensible string of jargon: "That's an enforcement consequence action-for-action follow-on."
10:18 — Sanders reels off his accomplishments on veterans' issues. This seems like an implicit comeback to Clinton's line that only she can get things done.
Bill Scher makes a good point:
Everyone who says Elizabeth Warren would be winning this primary, ask yourself how she'd be doing with these foreign policy questions10:25 — Sanders is asked about the results in Iowa, and Sanders emphasizes that he got 20 delegates to Clinton's 22 — and they need about 2,500 to get the nomination. "This is not the biggest deal in the world." He does point out that some of the results were based on coin flips, but he hastens to add: "I love and respect the caucus process in Iowa. And I don't have to say it, because they've already voted! And I love the New Hampshire primary, because they haven't voted yet!"
10:27 — In response to a question for Sanders about how he'd do in the general election, he cites some general-election polls that have him doing much better than Clinton against Donald Trump.
10:29 — Clinton tells Sanders she's "thrilled by the numbers of people . . . who are coming to support your campaign," which is a little hard to believe. As for the general election, Clinton says: "I've been vetted. There's hardly anything you don't know about me."
10:33 — Todd asks Clinton if she's "100% confident that nothing is going to come" of the FBI investigation into her email practices. Clinton says yes, "I'm 100% confident! . . . This just beggars the imagination!"
10:34 — Todd asks Sanders if he still feels the same way about Clinton's emails as he did in the first debate, when he famously said: "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Sanders says: "I'm feeling exactly how I felt at the first debate. There's a process underway — I will not politicize it."
10:41 — Clinton is asked if she still supports the death penalty. She says she does, but she has much more confidence in it at the federal level than the state level. As an example, she says she's glad that Timothy McVeigh was executed for blowing up 168 people, "including 19 children in a day-care center."
10:43 — Sanders is firmly against the death penalty: "There is so much killing out there. I don't believe that government should be part of the killing. . . . We should lock them up and throw away the key."
10:47 — Todd points out that Clinton has taken stands against trade agreements (NAFTA and the TPP) while campaigning in 2016 and 2008, but has supported them at other times. And Todd points out that Sanders has "never supported a trade deal" in the decades he's been in Congress! Sanders says he believes in "trade" — but not "free trade."
10:56 — Todd asks Clinton which of three issues she'd prioritize — immigration, guns, or climate change. "History shows, whichever you pick first, you have the best shot of getting." Clinton simply rejects that premise. Sanders says Todd missed the most important issue: campaign finance reform.
11:00 — Maddow asks Clinton if she'd eliminate any government agencies — or create any new ones. Clinton says no, she'd just make the existing ones work better.
11:02 — Todd asks Clinton if she'd pick Sanders as her running mate — which is a dumb question, since she's obviously not going to answer it. But if she is the nominee, "the first person" she'll call "will be Senator Sanders."
11:04 — In her closing statement, Clinton urges voters to use their "head" and their "heart." "We have a lot of work that can only come because your heart is moved."
11:06 — Sanders, in his closing statement: "I'm running for president because I believe it is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. We need a revolution."