Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are facing off tonight in the CNN Democratic debate taking place in Brooklyn ahead of the New York Primaries next week. Clinton is far ahead of Sanders in both state polls and national delegate counts, but Sanders has claimed his momentum and strong support from his home state will bring him a big win next week.
The event began with both candidates coming out swinging. Wolf Blitzer first asked the candidates about the increasingly bitter rhetoric between them, and Clinton addressed recent claims from Sanders that she is unqualified.
"Sen. Sanders did call me unqualified. I've been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first," Clinton said.
9:30 p.m. - The candidates address minimum wage and the conversation gets heated. “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you,” Blitzer says.
9:33 p.m. - The candidates address gun control. Clinton comes out hard against Sanders, who has a record of voting in favor of protecting gun manufacturers. Blitzer notes that a family member of a Sandy Hook victim said the Senator owes all victims an apology due to his voting record and asks Sanders if he agrees. Sanders says he does not.
9:40 p.m. - The candidates address race. Clinton is asked whether she regrets her husband's policies that led to mass incarceration, she says she regrets the consequences. This is the closest the candidate has come to apologizing for the policies, which have been a major source of criticism during her campaign.
9:55 p.m. - Clinton addresses Sanders's assertion that she is beholden to the fossil fuel industry, which she denies. She focuses on her plans to switch to clean energy. Sanders says he has introduced the most comprehensive climate change legislation, including a carbon tax, which he said Clinton has not.
Clinton points to her experience of getting China in climate change negotiations with the Obama administration. Sanders responds by criticizing Clinton's record of expanding fracking around the world through her work as Secretary of State. Clinton claims Obama has moved forward on clean energy and other green initiatives in the face of "implacable hostility" from Republicans and deserves more credit.
Sanders claims "little steps" are not enough, hammers on Clinton for her support of fracking once again. He asks if she would support a carbon tax like he does, Clinton does not. She said she wants to focus on policies that can actually get passed, unlike Sanders (sick burn, Clinton!)
10:00 p.m. - The debate turns towards foreign policy. Clinton is asked about Obama's policies in Libya, which the president counts as one of his biggest mistakes. Clinton defends her decisions and says as president she will continue to work towards a democratic and free Libya. Sanders criticizes her regime change policies in Libya as well as her support of a no-fly zone in Syria.
10:15 p.m. - Sanders is asked about his proposal to send less money to NATO and how it is different from Trump's proposal to do the same. "You'll have to ask Trump," he said. He claims the U.S. pays more than its fair share.
Clinton supports NATO and agrees other countries should be asked to pay more. "We need to modernize it and move it into the 21st century," Clinton said of NATO, adding that she would stay in the alliance even if other countries do not agree to pay more. "Of course they should be paying more but if they don't, that doesn't mean we leave."
Sanders and Trump are both right about NATO - which is why it's causing such horror & terror among guardians of DC foreign policy orthodoxy.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2016
10:20 p.m. - The candidates are being asked whether Israel has "a right to defend itself as it sees fit." Sanders defends Israel, saying he spent much of his childhood there, but adds that the country overreacts to Palestinian attacks: "We must treat the Palestinian people with dignity," he said.
Clinton defends Israel, and advocates for reaching a two-state solution. "I don't know how you run a country when you are under constant terrorist threat, you have a right to defend yourself," she said.
10:35 p.m. - Sanders is asked about how he would execute his healthcare plan, he reiterates his support of Medicare expansion and said he will pay for it "by eliminating student loan debt."
Clinton said she will continue to implement universal healthcare plans she has already worked on with the Obama administration. She calls Sanders's free college plan too good to be true.
Sanders says, "Please don't tell me we can't do what many other countries do," adding that students shouldn't leave school in debt .
10:43 p.m.- Clinton supports extending social security. "I happen to support Democrats," a mild dig at Sanders who she has accused of not representing the party throughout the election. "If Senator Sanders doesn't agree with what you're saying, you are 'a member of the establishment.'" she said in response to boos over her social security extension plan.
10:47 p.m. - Clinton takes the discussion of the Supreme Court as an opportunity to bring up reproductive rights and how little they have been discussed this election cycle. "We haven't had one question about a woman's right to make her own decisions about reproductive healthcare," she said. She brings up that Sanders called Trump's comments about making abortion illegal "a distraction." It is not a distraction, Clinton said, "it gets to the heart of what is important to us as women."
Sanders brings up his "100% pro-choice" voting record.
10:50 p.m.- Sanders is asked about Clinton saying he is not a Democrat, he says of course he is.
Clinton said it is important to unify the democratic party.
10:56 p.m. - Sanders is asked about how much support Clinton is winning, he blames his losses on the South being conservative. Clinton names the many states, in the South and outside the region, that she has won.
11:04- Closing statements! Sanders (surprise!) talks about big banks. He reiterates that taking money from Wall Street will influence Clinton's policies. As Sanders closes his statements the audience chants "Bernie!" repeatedly and won't allow Clinton to speak.
When Clinton can talk, she ends by thanking the people of New York for electing her in the past. She promises to "take those New York values and implement them in the White House." She said she will actually deliver results rather than make promises she can't keep (implying this is what Bernie's campaign is based on).
11:09- The debate is over! It was definitely the most contentious yet, but did it change anything? Sanders dropped the ball of many issues, including gun control, which Clinton has a stronger voting record on. Clinton held strong to her allegiance to Israel, and Sanders claimed it often overreacts to aggressions. After being asked about her husband's crime bill that led to a major rise in incarcerations, Clinton offered somewhat of an apology, saying she is sorry for the "consequences" of the legislation. Sanders is lagging far behind Clinton in the polls and did not perform great tonight, but the candidate still claims his momentum will bring him through on primary day. We will see on Tuesday.