CNN Democratic Presidential Debate: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton On Gun Control, Wall Street, Middle Class

The CNN Democratic Presidential Debate, hosted by Anderson Cooper, was held at the luxurious Wynn Las Vegas casino hotel yesterday evening. Topics such as fighting for working class families, gun control, and the economy were addressed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, from Vermont; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee; former U.S. Senator, from Virginia, Jim Webb; and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

During his two minute debate introduction, Bernie Sanders did not mince words.

Sanders described an “unprecedented crisis” in America with a “campaign finance system that is corrupt and is undermining American democracy.” Sanders spoke with conviction and also took issue with Super PACs and the taxation of the top one percent earners. Sanders then cited a “moral responsibility” to take action on climate change and to make a concerted effort to make a move away from a fossil fuel-based economy.

Hillary Clinton’s opening two minutes began with a long-winded introduction. Anderson Cooper seemed to momentarily prod Clinton for something a little more substantive. Clinton then talked about job creation, infrastructure investment, sustainable energy, accepting the challenge posed by climate change to spur the U.S. economy, raising wages, and “finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who help to make them.” Clinton also expressed a belief that the “wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. ” Clinton further pledged to work toward paid family leave for Americans each year, bringing the U.S. in line with other countries. Clinton also discussed inequality in America.

When asked if she was a progressive or moderate, Hillary Clinton responded “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”

Bernie Sanders then fielded a question asking about his “democratic socialist” leanings.

Sanders emphatically explained that “it is immoral and wrong that the top tenth of one percent in this country own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” Then Sanders spoke of living “in a rigged economy” and “that 57 percent of income is going to the top one percent.” Sanders spoke of Wall Street’s “greed and recklessness.”

“Save capitalism from itself,” Hillary Clinton stated. “So it doesn’t run amok.”

“Of course we have to support small- and medium-sized businesses,” Sanders agrees, “the backbone of our economy.”

Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley at the CNN Presidential debate.

Martin O’Malley was questioned about his zero tolerance policies and the fact that some point to this causing civil unrest in Baltimore, the city where he was mayor. O’Malley responded that, at the time of the Baltimore riot, arrests in the city had fallen to a “32-year low.” He described a family being “firebombed” after calling the police about drug dealers on a Baltimore street corner.

“We saved lives and we gave our city a better future,” O’Malley stated with regard to Baltimore.

Anderson Cooper spoke of “100,000” arrests and the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union suing the city. O’Malley spoke of bringing “peace” to Baltimore.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton then spoke to gun control. Sanders summarized his position, explaining that if a gun shop owner sold a gun to someone legally, and then the person went and committed a criminal act, he feels that the gun shop should not be held liable. Sanders then noted that, if gun shop owners are selling guns illegally, then, “of course” they should be prosecuted.

Debate moderator Anderson Cooper then asked Hillary Clinton if she agrees with Bernie Sanders. Clinton responded “No.”

Sanders reiterated that he believed in “instant” background checks and mental health checks among other measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. O’Malley called for tougher gun controls.

O’Malley and Sanders traded jabs about what Sanders sees as a rural/urban U.S.-divide on gun control. Jim Webb stated that guns should be available for families to protect themselves. Lincoln Chafee described the “gun lobby” fear-mongering the U.S. Congress by stirring panic with talk of “they’re coming to take away your guns,” and attempting to find common ground with them.

Sanders referred to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as the “worst foreign policy” decision of all-time. Lincoln Chafee was then asked what he thinks of Hillary Clinton voting for the U.S. invasion, where he reiterated Sanders’ “worst foreign policy” remarks and that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Clinton spoke about how President Obama, knowing that Clinton had voted for Iraq, still appointed her Secretary of State.

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” Sanders said, sticking-up for Clinton on her ongoing e-mail scandal, as discussed by the Inquisitr, drawing applause from the debate audience.

“Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?” Bernie Sanders was asked. “Black lives matter,” Bernie Sanders answered. He responded that cases like Sandra Bland’s should never happen. O’Malley echoed Sanders’ thoughts, “we have a lot of work to do.”

The participants in the CNN Presidential debate.

Martin O’Malley spoke about reinstating Glass-Steagall legislation. Clinton and Sanders professed a belief that big banks need to be broken up.

“Fraud is a business model,” Sanders bellowed and cited his opposition to Wall Street deregulation.

“Quit foreclosing on homes, quit engaging in these these kinds of speculative behaviors,” Hillary Clinton stated were her words to Wall Street shortly before the 2008 financial meltdown.

“Break up these banks!” Sanders’ baritone echoed through the Las Vegas debate hall.

Free public college education, current student debt, the middle class paying for the TARP bailout, expanding social security and Medicare, undocumented immigrants, immigration reform, health care for children, differences with Republicans, the treatment of veterans, the Patriot Act and the NSA, Edward Snowden, war, woman’s rights, prescription drug costs, President Obama, political outsiders, and climate change were among many other topics in discussed in substantive debate.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Martin O’Malley stated.

“The only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution!” Bernie Sanders declared to applause from debate audience members.

Searches for “Bernie Sanders” more than doubled searches for “Hillary Clinton” during the democratic presidential debate.

[Feature Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images]