Hillary Clinton and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders ramped up their attacks on each other at the Democratic debate hosted by ABC News in Charleston, S.C. on Sunday. While Clinton, the former secretary of state and current frontrunner, attempted to paint herself as the heir to protect President Obama’s legacy, Sanders called for a “political revolution” to break the power of big corporations.
“Let me give you an idea of how corrupt this system is,” Sanders said. “The leader of Goldman Sachs is a billionaire who comes to Congress and tells us we should cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Secretary Clinton, and you’re not the only one, I don’t mean to just point the finger at you, you’ve received over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year.”
Sanders has been gaining on Clinton in the early state of Iowa in the polls and is currently leading in New Hampshire. Seeing her lead evaporate in the two early states, Clinton pivoted to the role of Obama’s heir apparent with the aim to hold her minority coalition in South Carolina and beyond. She accused Sanders of betraying the president when he searched for an alternative nominee in 2012 and wanting to “dismantle” ObamaCare, his signature healthcare law.
But Bernie shot back when Clinton was asked by Andrea Mitchell whether it was fair to accuse him of “forcing” Democrats to “start all over again” on healthcare.
“Secretary Clinton didn’t answer your question,” Sanders said. “Because what her campaign was saying: Bernie Sanders, who has fought for universal health carefor my entire life, he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the children’s health program, that is nonsense! What a Medicare for all program does is finally provide in this country health are for every man, woman and child as a right.”
Meanwhile, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is placing a distant third in the polls, tried to distinguish himself from the two top candidates in the field on guns. Clinton has tried to tie Sanders’ 2005 vote to grant gun manufacturers immunity from liability lawsuits around his neck. O’Malley pounced on his flip-flop on the issue after Sanders vowed he “will support stronger provisions.”
“They’ve both been inconsistent when it comes to this issue,” Gov. O’Malley said, citing his track record of forcing through strict gun control legislation during his eight years as governor.
“Can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals?” he said. “It’s easy to say I’m going to do this and do that, but I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street.”
Despite her recent legal troubles, Clinton still has a large lead nationwide on the PPD aggregate average of polls. PPD’s senior political analyst Rich Baris said Clinton is still the clear favorite to win the nomination barring an indictment from the Justice Department.
“Unless Mrs. Clinton is indicted or Sanders figures out how to expand his base of support beyond white liberals, it’s all downhill for Bernie after New Hampshire,” Baris said. “The next two states are Nevada (Saturday, Feb. 20) and South Carolina (Saturday, Feb. 27), where the share of white voters will drastically decrease.”
In 2008, Hispanic voters in Nevada backed Clinton over Obama by a 64–26 percent margin, and represented roughly 15 percent of the vote. Considering their growth to 20 percent in the overall electorate, it is more than expected we will see rapid growth in their share of the primary electorate in 2016. But that’s not the end of Bernie’s troubles.
“Even if he does [expand his appeal], roughly one-sixth of the estimated 4,483 delegates up for grabs in 2016 will be ‘superdelegates,’ who have already lined up behind Clinton,” Baris added. “They will have a say in who the party’s nominee will be, whether voters like it or not.”
Superdelegates are party leaders able to pledge delegates not bound by voting outcomes in their state. Clinton is currently dominating the superdelegate primary and race for endorsements.