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Highlights from Brooklyn: Clinton and Sanders face off in ninth debate

USA TODAY USA TODAY 15/04/2016 Heidi M Przybyla

Five days before the New York primary, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off in Brooklyn on Thursday night in the ninth Democratic debate.

Here are all the highlights; all times are Eastern.

11:03 p.m.: Closing statements. Sanders cites his family roots in Poland and the fact that he was born in Brooklyn. He said the country has great potential "if we have the guts" to take on powerful interests, while hitting Clinton over the notion that candidates can accept money from those interests and still challenge them. He listed all the goals of his campaign, such as breaking "up the large financial institutions." 

“When millions of people stand up, fight back and create a government that works for all of us not just the 1%. That is what the political revolution is about. That is what this campaign is about," he says, as chants of "Bernie! Bernie!" erupted as he concluded.

Clinton said New York voters "took a chance" on her in 2000, her first Senate election, and re-elected her by a large margin.

"I tried to have your back, and time and time again, you had mine," she said. She cited the challenges they faced during 9/11. 

"I'm asking for your support again in the primary on Tuesday to "take those New York values to the White House. She also seemed to take one final swipe at Sanders, saying she wouldn't just make promises that she couldn't keep. "We'll deliver results," she said. 

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders speak during the CNN Democratic presidential debate. © Seth Wenig, AP Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders speak during the CNN Democratic presidential debate.

Track the Democratic delegate count

10:55 p.m. Sanders is asked whether he's taking the campaign to the convention floor. "I think we're going to win this nomination, to tell you the truth," he responds. He points out he did very poorly against Clinton in the deep South — "We got murdered there," he said, adding that the campaign, however, is moving to other parts of the country. "I believe we're gonna obliterate Donald Trump" or anyone who's the GOP nominee, he argues. 

Clinton notes that she has a "considerable lead in pledged delegates" and lists the states she's won beyond the South, saying her team is "very confident and optimistic" and that she's hopeful for a "unified convention."

10:53 p.m. Is Sanders, in fact, a Democrat? That's the question posed to the longtime independent. "Well, why would I be running for the Democratic nomination?" he asked. He cites polls showing he'd fare better in November than Clinton and notes the importance of independents. Saying it might be a "shock" to Clinton to hear, he says: "There are a whole lot of independents in this country."

Clinton says she's building a "broad base, inclusive coalition" and is running "a campaign that will defeat whoever the Republicans end up nominating."

10:47 p.m. The Supreme Court nomination fight comes up and Senate Republicans resistance to considering Merrick Garland. Clinton is supportive of President Obama's position, saying he's "on the right side" of the Constitution and that the "Senate needs to immediately begin to respond." As for what she'd do if the matter is still pending and she's elected: "I will take stock of where we are and move from there."

Meanwhile, Sanders isn't nearly as supportive of the Garland pick. In fact, he says if elected he'd ask the president to withdraw the nomination, hitting Garland as insufficiently supportive of overturning Citizens United

10:40 p.m. Sanders challenges Clinton to answer whether she’s open to lifting the cap on the amount of income subject to Social Security tax. She seems to dance around the answer and says the U.S. will extend the trust fund, and Sanders gets increasingly irritated as Clinton continues to hedge about making the right decision to extend the life of the trust fund.

10:32 p.m. Sanders is asked how his Medicare and college tuition proposals — which would add up to $15 trillion to the national debt — are fiscally responsible. Sanders says his Medicare plan will save many families thousands of dollars a year and his college plan will be funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation. Clinton says she agrees “with the diagnosis” that we have to make health care and college more affordable. But when you’re running for president “you should be accountable for whether the numbers add up” and the plans are going to work. She launches into a series of specific critiques of his plans. Sanders says every other industrial nation manages to guarantee free health care, so why can’t the U.S.?

10:20 p.m. Sanders is asked about his position on Israel and its right to defend itself. He says of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but at some point, “we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity,” he says.

Clinton is asked whether Sanders is right that Israel “overreacts” to Palestinian attacks. Clinton cites her role as secretary of State negotiating a cease fire in 2012. “They do not seek these types of attacks” and seek “constant incitement” by Hamas. “I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant attack,” she says. Sanders accuses her of evading the question. It’s not whether Israel has a right to go after terrorists. “Was their response disproportionate?” he said. “I think it was.” Clinton says “of course precautions have to be taken.” She also defends her role in negotiations, saying “I was absolutely focused” on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.  

10:16 p.m. Sanders says he believes European countries should pick up more of the costs of NATO’s, a similar position to what Republican Donald Trump has taken. “Of course they should be paying more,” said Clinton. “But that doesn’t mean if they don’t, we leave.” The moderator asks what she will do if they don’t pay more. “I will stay in NATO” and look for the types of missions they will support.

10:06 p.m. Clinton is asked whether she, like Obama, also bears a responsibility for instability that ensued after the overthrow of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. She defends all of the efforts the U.S. made in the aftermath to try and stabilize the country. Sanders pounces: “We didn’t think thoroughly about what happens the day after we get rid of these dictators," he said. Now ISIL has “a very dangerous foothold” there. Clinton responds by invoking a Senate vote in favor of going to the United Nations Security Council to support the efforts of European and Arab allies who had requested the action in the first place. Clinton says the alternative is Syria, which is in far worse shape because no one stood up to Bashar al Assad. Back on Libya, she says, at the end of the day, the decision to overthrow Gadhafi was the president’s. 

9:54 p.m. Clinton is asked about her relationship to the fossil fuel industry and her contention that Sanders is telling “lies” about her. She says she tried as senator to get rid of subsidies for big oil. She says she has “relatively small contributions” from people who work for fossil fuel companies. “That is not being supported by big oil,” she says. Sanders clarifies that 43 lobbyists for the industry maxed out contributing to her and must have thought “she was a pretty good bet on this issue.” He warns of a bleak future caused by global warming. In a back-and-forth he also hits her for supporting “fracking” as secretary of State. Clinton defends Obama’s record of taking executive actions in the face of “implacable hostility from the Republicans.”

Clinton is asked why she’s changed her view on fracking, a way of extracting oil and natural gas. She says it was U.S. policy to try to help countries get out of the constant use of coal and that fracking “was a bridge.” Sanders confronts her about whether she will support a tax on carbon to transition to more sustainable forms of energy. She sidesteps. 

9:46 p.m. Clinton is asked about the 1994 crime bill that her husband signed into law and its relationship to the nation’s high incarceration rates. She focuses on decisions that were made “that we have to revisit and correct.” She also says she is “sorry” for some of the unintended consequences, said her husband has also apologized for it, and noted that Sanders voted for it. She pivots to the problem of “systemic racism.” Sanders is asked why she criticized Bill Clinton for defending his wife’s previous use of the word “superpredator.” Because "it was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term," he says to applause.

9:33 p.m. The issue is guns, and Clinton is asked whether she seriously thinks New York’s illegal gun problem is the fault of Vermont, as she recently suggested in a press release. Clinton says “no” but goes on offense over Sanders’ gun record, including her consistent support for the Brady Bill and his 2005 vote to grant gun manufacturers immunity from prosecution. “She didn’t answer your question,” Sanders said when it was over. He says it was a statement refuted by the governor of Vermont and addresses directly the Sandy Hook shootings.

He talks about the political fallout he’s taken in Vermont his gun control positions, including a D- voting record from the NRA. He has been “largely a very reliable supporter of the NRA,” Clinton contends. Sanders is booed before he even starts to defend himself. He stands firm on his position on immunity but says when a company “knowingly” sells weapons that are used in a crime they should be held accountable. He also says he doesn’t owe an apology to some of the Sandy Hook families who are asking for one. 

9:24 p.m. Sanders is asked how he would promote businesses around the world when he is so contemptible of them. He continues his assault on Verizon and says there are some companies that treat companies well and they are not one of them. He also says General Electric has outsourced hundreds of thousands of jobs around the world. Both Verizon and G.E. pay nothing in federal income tax, he contends. Sanders is also asked how he would bring jobs back. He says first the minimum wage should go up to $15 an hour.

Clinton is asked why she doesn’t support lifting the federal minimum wage to $15 and whether she’d sign such legislation as president. She says “of course I would.” Sanders takes a swipe, saying many people will be surprised to hear that is her position. Clinton again insists she’s supported the “fight for $15” from the beginning, with some audience members booing. “If we have a Democratic Congress we will go to $15,” she says.

9:19 p.m.: Clinton is asked why she doesn’t just release her transcripts of her speeches to big banks including Goldman Sachs. She pivots to her record in the Senate and takes another swipe at Sanders vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives. She says she’s released 30 years of tax returns and again turns the issue to Sanders. The narrator continues to ask her for a better explanation. She says if everybody does it “I will do it.” Sanders says “of course” we will release our taxes. “We’ve been a little bit busy lately,” he says, promising "they are very boring." He clarifies that tomorrow he will release his 2014 returns and says his wife, Jane, is usually responsible for them.

9:11 p.m.: Sanders is asked about his comments to the New York Daily News that the banks should decide how they should break themselves up instead of the government outlining that course. He said he’s not sure that is the role of the Treasury Department. Clinton jumps in to explain the intricacies of the Dodd-Frank law and says there should also be penalties on executives.

Sanders is asked whether there’s any evidence that Clinton made a decision in Congress that benefited the big banks. He said the “obvious response” to the Great Recession was to break up the big banks, something he proposed. Clinton pounced: “He cannot come up with any example because there is no example,” Clinton said. 

9:05 p.m. Sanders is asked whether Clinton is fit to serve as president.

He explained that he only said that in response to the attacks he was getting. Does she have the experience and resume to serve as president? Yes, he said. “But I do question her judgment,” including her vote for the war in Iraq, and “virtually every disastrous trade agreement,” as well as her campaign contributions from special interests including Wall Street. “I do not believe that is the kind of judgment we need.”

Clinton responds by immediately crossing swords, saying she’s never been called unqualified in her life. She then lobbed a series of attacks on Sanders, including her interview with the New York Daily News and said he had problems “under the bright light” of New York explaining some of his own proposals. Sanders counterattacked on Clinton’s relationship to super PACS. “This is a phony attack” without evidence, Clinton countered, and she also said it was an attack on Obama, who took money from super PACs.

9 p.m.: Sanders began by emphasizing the breadth of his support, including the fact that he won the last eight of the nine caucuses and primaries and his record contributions from individuals. He gave his standard pitch about a “rigged” economy that only works for the top 1%.

Clinton highlighted her record serving as U.S. senator from New York, including her leadership after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and efforts to bring jobs to places like Buffalo and Albany. She took a dig at Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz by touting the “New York values” that he has derided.

8:51 p.m.: Debate is minutes from kicking off. This will be the final debate before the New York primary on April 19. It's also likely Sanders' final opportunity to tangle in person with Clinton before a series of contests along the Eastern seaboard on April 26, including in Pennsylvania and Maryland, that could help her lock up the nomination. 

Contributing: Cooper Allen


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