I'll be live-blogging the Democratic debate here. Keep reloading this post for more updates.
This is the last debate before the Michigan primary.
For more live-blogging, check out the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and Variety.
As always, I'll be writing down quotes on the fly, so they might not be verbatim, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate. If you need an exact quote, check the transcript.
8:01 — Bernie Sanders says what he's heard and seen in talking to the people of Flint "literally shattered" him.
8:03 — Hillary Clinton says she's glad they're having the debate in Flint, as she requested. Both candidates call on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to resign.
8:06 — A Flint resident in the audience describes how she and her children have had to drive long distances to wash their fruit, brush their teeth, and drink water. She asks how she'll ever regain the trust of her government. Clinton: "Everything that is done has to be triple-checked to regain your trust."
8:08 — Sanders calls for the federal government to get involved in Flint. "You are paying more for poisoned water than I am paying in Burlington, Vermont, for clean water! First thing [we should] do is say people are not paying for poisoned water."
8:10 — Sanders sarcastically says: "Maybe we should let Wall Street come in and run Flint, because we know their honesty and integrity has done so much for America!"
8:15 — Anderson Cooper tells us the next audience member to ask a question was one of the first Flint residents to report a problem with the water — after her son stopped growing and her daughter lost her hair. She wants to know about what should be done about lead pipes throughout the country. Clinton says this was a higher priority in the Clinton administration.
8:17 — Clinton calls for "absolute accountability" for whoever's responsible — including "civil" or "criminal" liability.
8:24 — The candidates are asked what they'll do to keep jobs in Michigan, or bring back jobs there. Clinton calls for taxing companies that move jobs overseas. Sanders: "I am very glad that Secretary Clinton has discovered religion on this issue. But it's a little late." Sanders attacks her for supporting trade agreements like NAFTA. Clinton comes back: Sanders was against Obama's auto bailout, which "ended up saving the auto industry." Sanders retorts that Clinton supported "the Wall Street bailout — where some of your friends destroyed the economy!" Clinton interrupts, but Sanders snaps: "Excuse me, I'm talking!" Clinton shoots back: "Well, tell the whole story!" Sanders: "Let me tell my story — you tell yours!" Clinton: "I will!" The initial Kumbaya atmosphere of this debate has dissipated. [VIDEO.]
8:29 — Clinton calls Sanders a "one-issue candidate." Clinton knows "you have to make hard choices!" Sanders embraces the "one-issue candidate" label: "My one issue is trying to rebuild a disappearing middle class! That's my one issue!"
8:33 — Clinton lists the ways she was tough on Wall Street in 2008, including proposing a moratorium on foreclosures.
8:34 — Anderson Cooper brings up Clinton's "Shakespearean" statement that she'll release the transcript of her Wall Street speeches if all the other candidates do. Sanders points out that he's her one Democratic opponent, and he'll release all his speeches to Wall Street. He does it right then and there: "Here it is! There's nothing!" (Sanders is right — in the Democratic primaries, there's no reason for Clinton to condition her release of records on the Republican candidates' agreement.)
8:38 — Clinton lays down the gauntlet on the Export/Import Bank — she's for it, Sanders is against it. Anderson Cooper explains that the Export/Import Bank is "the federal agency that gives loans to companies that import/export American products." Sanders calls the Export/Import Bank "the Bank of Boeing." He explains that 75% of that money "goes to large corporations" — and the remaining 25% is only as large as it is because of a law that Sanders got passed. Cooper points out that Sanders agrees with Ted Cruz on the Export/Import Bank, but Sanders doesn't try to disavow that association: "I hate to break the bad news — Democrats are not always right! . . . Democrats have supported corporate welfare." [VIDEO.] Politico calls this "That time Bernie Sanders agreed with the Koch brothers."
8:44 — Somehow, the debate over the Import/Export Bank meanders into Sanders calling for European-style universal health care; Clinton says we've already gotten closer to that goal with Obamacare.
8:53 — Anderson Cooper introduces a man in the audience by showing us a photo of his 14-year-old daughter, and telling us the heart-wrenching story of how she was shot in a mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, wasn't expected to survive, but is now recovering. The dad (who's leaning toward Sanders) says his daughter has been laughing, which is great — but, of course, this never should have happened. He asks what they'd do to stop this kind of thing from happening, and asks them not to mention background checks or mental health, since the person who shot his daughter had a clear background and no mental illness. Clinton says we need to have more liability for gun makers and sellers. Sanders calls for expanded background checks — exactly what the dad said would not have stopped his daughter from being shot.
8:58 — Sanders raises the concern that if the law holds gun manufacturers liable for anyone who uses a gun to do a mass shooting, even if the shooter bought the gun legally, this could mean "ending gun manufacturing in America," which he disagrees with.
9:03 — Clinton grapples with a question about how she supported her husband's 1994 crime bill, which led to more incarceration. Don Lemon notes that as a black man, he statistically has a 1 in 3 chance of being incarcerated. Clinton points out that she and Sanders both voted for it. She says parts of the law "were a mistake," as Bill Clinton admitted last year in a speech to the NAACP. Lemon reads a quote from Sanders from 1994, warning of the horrible things that could result from it — so why did he vote for it? Sanders says his words were those of "a Congressman who was torn." He cleverly points out that if he had voted against it, Clinton would be saying: "Bernie Sanders voted against the assault-weapons ban! Bernie Sanders voted against the Violence Against Women Act!"
9:07 — A member of the audience begins his question by pointing out that opportunities often go disproportionately to "older Caucasian men and women." Sanders interrupts him with a self-effacing joke: "You're not talking about me, are ya?!" On a more serious note, Sanders says: "Most candidates wouldn't put this on their resume, but . . . I was arrested by the Chicago police for trying to desegregate the Chicago school system." [VIDEO.]
9:12 — Sanders is asked about his "racial blind spots." He says he was surprised to hear a colleague in Washington say he wasn't going to take a cab because the drivers pass him by because he's black. (That's always struck me as a somewhat tricky example of white privilege, since cab drivers aren't a group that's likely to be white and privileged — many are immigrants, for instance.)
9:16 — Don Lemon asks Clinton if she was wrong and used racially coded language in the '90s when she talked about "super predators." She says it was a "poor choice of words" and she wouldn't say it again — which doesn't really answer the question.
9:18 — Sanders criticizes Bill Clinton's welfare reform of 1996. Clinton responds: "If we're going to argue about the '90s, let's try to get the facts straight." She says she disagrees with how the law has been "applied." Sanders uses Clinton's reference to "the '90s" as a segue into railing against the financial deregulation of the '90s.
9:27 — An audience member asks about deteriorating public schools in Michigan. Sanders strikes a Rawlsian note: "A great nation is judged not by how many millionaires and billionaires it has, but how it treats the most vulnerable among us. . . . We should be ashamed of how we treat our kids and our senior citizens."
9:32 — Anderson Cooper asks Clinton if teachers' unions protect bad teachers, and the audience boos. Clinton says the problem is "scapegoating teachers" instead of increasing funding to schools. When Cooper follows up by asking if she agrees about unions protecting bad teachers, she gives an answer that's carefully worded to sound like she's unafraid to get tough on unions — without quite agreeing with Cooper's statement: she says we need to "look at this" and "eliminate that criticism."
9:37 — Clinton is asked about whether she supports fracking. She lists several requirements she would impose on any fracking, and concludes: "By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there are many places in America where fracking will take place." Sanders mocks Clinton's triangulating answer: "My answer is a lot shorter: No, I do not support fracking." (While Clinton's position is more complex, it also sounds more pragmatic and achievable.)
9:41 — Sanders says Clinton's Super PAC is "raising a huge amount of money — well, I hesitate to say 'YUGE'! . . . A lot of money from fossil-fuel companies." (Clinton seems to be trying not to laugh.) [VIDEO.]
9:50 — Anderson Cooper asks Clinton, if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, how she'll respond when he brings up her emails (as he's often done already, even in the primaries). Clinton seems a little coy and hesitant in responding. She starts by pointing out that Trump has won over 3 million votes — the most of any candidate except her. She talks about Trump's "bigotry and bluster," and repeats the line from her Super Tuesday speech: "We don't need to make America great again — America never stopped being great! We need to make America whole again." She doesn't address her emails. So I guess the answer is . . . that she'll have no answer to Trump. Maybe she just hasn't thought enough about her general-election strategy yet. Or maybe she does have a plan — and she doesn't want to tip her hand. (Thanks to a commenter for pointing out I had missed the crucial part about her emails — I went back and revised this.)
9:52 — Cooper points out that Trump has called Sanders "a Communist." "That was one of the nice things he said about me!" (Sanders, who has a pretty sharp sense of humor, has been on a roll in this debate — you could imagine Woody Allen saying that line.) Sanders says he almost always does better than Clinton in match-ups against Trump.
9:55 — Cooper asks Sanders about those who say he keeps his Judaism "in the background," to a fault. Sanders shakes his head. "I am very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being." "My father's family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust." [VIDEO.]
9:57 — Clinton is asked about her faith. She quips: "I am a praying person — and if I hadn't been, by the time I was in the White House, I would have become one!"
10:00 — They're doing the closing statements. Sanders: "It is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics."
10:01 — Clinton uses her closing statement to anticipate the general election (with the obvious subtext that she's the likely nominee): "I don't intend to get into the gutter with whoever they nominate, but instead to lift our sights, set big goals, and make it clear that America's best days are still ahead of us."
Sunday, March 6, 2016
I'll be live-blogging the Democratic debate here. Keep reloading this post for more updates.