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Guns, Obamacare and Bill's transgressions: Things got heated in last night's Democratic debate

Hillary Clinton is feeling Bernie Sanders snapping at her heels.

Image: Mic Smith

IT WAS THE last debate before the first vote and it showed.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went at it last night, clashing over big issues including gun control and healthcare ahead of a vote in Iowa in a fortnight’s time.

The pair were also joined on the NBC stage by Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

Clinton, although still the clear frontrunner, is coming under some pressure from Sanders so the exchanges became heated throughout the live broadcast.

All three seemed very aware that their performances were an important opportunity to reshape the race ahead of Iowa, which votes two weeks from today.

Here were the three most-talked-about moments from the evening’s fighting:

Guns, guns, guns

Ahead of Sunday night’s debate, Clinton had labelled her rival Sanders as a supporter of the NRA.

She reiterated the point on stage.

“He has voted with the NRA, with the gun lobby, numerous times,” she said.

“He voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for what we call the ‘Charleston loophole’. He voted for immunity from gun makers and sellers, which the NRA said was the most important piece of gun legislation in 20 years. He voted to let guns go on the Amtrak, go into national parks. He voted against doing research to figure out how we can save lives.”

Sanders hit back at her, calling the statement disingenuous and claiming he has a D- voting record with the gun lobby.

Source: NBC News/YouTube

Obamacare

Since being introduced, Obama’s healthcare reforms have led to 19 million US residents getting health insurance.

“To tear it up and start over again… I think is the wrong direction,” Clinton said last night in relation to Sanders’ just-released ‘Medicare for All’ proposal.

We finally have a path to universal healthcare. I don’t want to see the Republicans repeal it and I don’t want to see us start over again with a contentious debate.

His plan would raise taxes across the board and require a 6.2% health care payroll tax on businesses, while slapping taxpayers with a 2.2% “premium” based on income.

Source: NBC News/YouTube

Sanders defended his programme, calling Clinton’s arguments against it ‘nonsense’.

“What a Medicare for all programme does is finally provide in this country healthcare for every man, woman and child, as a right.

“No one is tearing this up. “We’re not going to tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to build a Medicare-for-all system.”

The elephant in the room

DEM 2016 Clinton Source: AP/Press Association Images

When you’re hoping to become the next president of the United States, it is probably fair enough that your husband – who was once the President of the United States – comes up once or twice.

Last night, Clinton used questions about Bill to her advantage – pointing out how she was his right-hand woman during his healthcare reform efforts, for one – while Sanders refused to be drawn into dirty debating.

When asked what her husband’s possible role in her administration would be, she said to much applause:

It will start at the kitchen table. We will see how it goes from there…

However, she did hint that it might go further than just a “kitchen table role”.

“I’m going to have the very best advisers that I can possibly have,” she added.

And when it comes to the economy and what was accomplished under my husband’s leadership in the ’90s, especially when it came to raising incomes for everybody and lifting people out of poverty more than any time in history, you bet I’m going to ask for his ideas, I’m going to ask for his advice, and I’m going to use him as a goodwill emissary to go around the country and find the best ideas we’ve got.

Meanwhile, Sanders was asked about previous remarks he made about Clinton’s husband. Commenting on the Monica Lewinsky affair, he had described the past transgression as “totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable”.

However, he would not be drawn on the issue again – something that pleased Clinton immensely. 

clinton

Sanders said:

I was asked a question… You know, one of things Andrea, that question annoys me. I cannot walk down the street – Secretary Clinton knows this – without being told how much I have to attack Secretary Clinton. Want to get me on the front pages of the newspaper? I [have] to make some vicious attack. I have avoided doing that, trying to run an issue-oriented campaign.

He continued:

Yes, and I mean this serious… [turning to Clinton] You know that, we’ve been through this. Yes, his behaviour was deplorable. Have I ever once said a word about that issue? No I haven’t. I am going to debate Secretary Clinton and Governor O’Malley on the issue facing the American people, not Bill Clinton’s personal behaviour.

Source: NBC News/YouTube

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