Democratic Debate 2015 Highlights

Weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the last Democratic Debate of the year 2015, hosted by ABC News at St. Anselm College, New Hampshire, discussed issues such as national security, Donald Trump, gun control, the recent DNC data breach.

Towards the beginning of the debate, the issue of a squabble with the DNC over data breach, during which Sanders campaign staffers had downloaded some Clinton campaign data, cropped up. Sanders acknowledged the breach, both data and ethical, and when brought up, apologized to both Clinton and his supporters. He said as follows.

"This is not the kind of campaign that we run. If I find anybody else involved in this, they will be fired."
Nevertheless, he contended, that it was the DNC and their data vendor who were principally at fault for the breach. He also denounced the DNC's one-day suspension of his campaign's data access.

The CNN reported that Clinton made it short and said the following.

"We should move on. Because I don't think the American people are all that interested in this."
Later, everyone on stage buried the hatchet and the topic did not come up again.

Hillary targeted Donald Trump throughout the debate. She slammed his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, calling him "ISIL's best recruiter." She alleged the following.

"ISIS is showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadist."
Sanders contributed his fair share by alleging that Trump supporters only cared about rich people, and added that the GOP candidate's inciting remarks were designed to take advantage of a very dangerous moment in American history. He said as follows.
"Somebody like a Trump comes along and says: 'I know the answers! The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they're criminals and rapists. We gotta hate the Mexicans, those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims, because all the Muslims are terrorists, we gotta hate the Muslims.' Meanwhile the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
The debate witnessed an awkward moment when ABC returned from a commercial break with Hillary Clinton missing on stage. According to a report on the USA Today, moderator David Muir resumed with the question for Bernie Sanders, merely suggesting that she would join them shortly. Clinton eventually arrived, amid applause. Acknowledging the odd moment, Clinton simply said, "Sorry."

Though she has not won a nomination yet, Clinton gave the audience an idea about how her campaign would look like. The frontrunner argued as follows.

"We have to prevent the Republicans from rolling back the progress that we've made. They would repeal the Affordable Care Act, not improve it. They would give more tax breaks to the super-wealthy and corporations, not to the middle class. And they would, despite all their tough talk about terrorism, continue to let people who are on the no-fly list buy guns."
Tax hikes on the middle-class, Clinton said, were "off the table." She said that she would not hike taxes for families making less than $250,000.

When asked by David Muir whether corporate America love Hillary Clinton, she responded as follows.

"Everybody should."
This was in sharp contrast to Sanders, who said the following.
"CEOs ain't going to like me and Wall Street is going to like me even less."
Regarding Obamacare, Clinton brushed off the troubles as "glitches," reiterating her support for the President's controversial health care reform.

Clinton also offered a quick glimpse at how she might manage questions about her 2011 decision to support regime change in Libya. Challenged by Sanders on her policy there, the former secretary said the following.

"With all due respect, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya."
Democratic president candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate.[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]
Democratic president candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate. [Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]Minimum wage, college cost and debt, criminal justice reform, and race relations made big on the debate, and did not continue to the addendum they were during previous elections. This may not be good news for the liberals, but the progressives sure are hoping to tilt the balance to the left this time.

Sanders said his plans would help middle- and working-class families. His promise of tuition-free college, single payer health insurance, and $15 minimum wage seemed too good to be true. Clinton criticized him for proposing expensive government programs without providing details of how to fund them. She said the following.

"I think we've got to be really thoughtful about how we're going to afford what we propose. Which is why everything I propose, I explain exactly how I'm going to pay for it."
Clinton and Sanders were joined onstage by former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. He made heated exchange on gun control, accusing Clinton and Sanders of having a "flip-flopping, political approach" to the contentious issue. Sanders responded as follows.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa… let's calm down a bit, Martin."
He also tried to interrupt the participants, only to be repeatedly asked to stop by the moderators. Though he did not make a big mark, he continued to engage in the debate enthusiastically.

Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton greet people following the debate. [Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]
Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton greet people following the debate. [Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]Towards the end of the debate came the question on potential first-spouse duties. Asked by moderator Martha Raddatz whether the role of presidential spouses should be redefined, the former first lady said that while she would still choose the flowers and china for state dinner, she expected to turn to Bill for advice on important policy issues, particularly "how we are going to get the economy," an appealing proposal for Democratic voters for whom the 42nd president remains quite popular.

Clinton sure came out to be the winner of the Friday's debate, with her witty answers and sharp focus on the issues, though Sanders, too, gathered support on the issues that matter in everyday life.

[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]