Bernie Sanders gets one last chance to save his lagging New York primary campaign against Hillary Clinton — and possibly his national campaign as well — when the two face off on a debate stage for the first time since March 9 and the ninth time since October 13, 2015 on Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York, in a debate that will also stream live online.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) April 14, 2016
Debates between the top two Democratic candidates — the field was actually five strong at the start — began as rather friendly and respectful affairs. In the first debate, Sanders was given a chance to attack Clinton over her State Department email controversy, but Sanders angrily dismissed the opportunity, saying he was “sick of hearing about [her] d*** emails!”
But since then, especially in recent weeks as even a series of Bernie Sanders wins in western states failed to make a significant dent in the delegate lead held by Hillary Clinton, the campaign has taken a far nastier turn, with Sanders even denouncing Clinton as “not qualified” to be president — a statement that he later attempted to retract.
The latest controversy arose at a Bernie Sanders rally held on Wednesday, the eve of the New York debate, in the city’s historic Washington Square Park. At the rally, speaker Paul Song — an oncologist who is also executive chair the California-based activist group Courage Campaign — appeared to condemn Hillary Clinton as a “corporate Democratic wh***.”
Here’s the moment when Dr. Paul Song implored people to stop electing “corporate Democratic whores.” pic.twitter.com/FGJlJHwZc6
— Alan Kestrel (@AlanKestrel750) April 14, 2016
When Sanders took the stage, he thanked Song and other speakers for their “great introductions.” But on Thursday morning, the Sanders campaign posted a statement on Sanders official Twitter account, appearing to disavow the “wh***” remark, but stopping short of an apology.
Dr. Song’s comment was inappropriate and insensitive. There’s no room for language like that in our political discourse.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 14, 2016
Watch a preview of the Thursday New York Democratic debate from CBS News Online in the video below.
To watch a live stream of the Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton New York Democratic debate, try the following video, or use the streaming links in the final paragraph of this article. The debate, carried live by CNN and moderated by the network’s on-air personality Wolf Blitzer, gets underway at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 6 p.m. Pacific.
Will Sanders be pressed further on the “wh***” remark, or on his claim that Clinton is “not qualified” to be president? Probably. But there may be other important issues discussed in what is likely to be a contentious two hours.
WALL STREET: New York is, of course, home to Wall Street, the symbolic center of the financial industry that Sanders has been unrelenting in attacking throughout his campaign. Sanders has repeatedly pressed Clinton about speeches that she delivered to executives from the top Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs, speeches for which she was reportedly paid a total of $675,000.
Sanders will certainly continue to hammer Clinton about those speeches, insinuating that she is somehow bought out by Wall Street. How Clinton defends herself against that line of Sanders attack in New York could prove decisive in the Thursday debate.
GUN CONTROL: Clinton has made Sanders’ record on regulating firearms a central issue of her campaign. On Thursday, a judge in Connecticut ruled that the families of victims of the Sandy Hook schoolhouse massacre may proceed with a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer who produced the rifle used to cold-bloodedly gun down 26 children and adults in December 2012.
Sanders has opposed allowing the families of gun violence victims to sue the large corporations that manufacture the weapons. If Clinton can press Sanders on the issue, forcing him to admit that he was wrong, or to criticize the Thursday court decision, she could gain a significant advantage in the debate.
FOREIGN POLICY: In an interview last week with The New York Daily News, Sanders appeared to stumble with his answers on several topics, perhaps most of al on foreign policy issues. At one point, Sanders even claimed that in the 2014 Gaza war, Israel killed “10,000 innocent people.” The United Nations says that about 1,400 civilians were killed in that war.
On Thursday, Clinton released a letter signed by 19 former United States diplomats who expressed concern about Sanders’ apparent lack of interest in foreign policy. Look for the former Secretary of State to portray Sanders as a dangerous choice for president due to his foreign policy inexperience.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) April 14, 2016
Sanders needs to do something drastic in the debate on Thursday, because nothing he has tried has reversed his continued poor performance in the New York polls. There have been 10 polls taken in New York in the first two weeks of April, all of them showing Clinton with a double-digit lead.
MORE ELECTION COVERAGE FROM THE INQUISITR:
- Who Will Win New York Primary? Polls Show Bernie Sanders Lags Behind Hillary Clinton
- Bernie Sanders Polls: Huge Opportunity In New York — Black And Hispanic Voters Are Undecided
- New York Polls: Donald Trump Dominates, Bernie Sanders Struggles To Catch Hillary Clinton In Crucial State
- Watch Bernie Sanders Washington Square Rally Full Replay: Spike Lee, Vampire Weekend, Crowd Of Thousands
- Bernie Sanders Curtails Hillary Clinton’s Lead In Delegate-Rich California And New York
- Bernie Sanders Turnout: Young Voters Say They Back Sanders But Don’t Show Up To Vote For Him
- National Polls: Clinton’s Lead Against Bernie Sanders Is Almost Gone
A new poll on Thursday by NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College showed Clinton with a commanding 17 point lead, an increase of two points from a poll released just four days earlier by the same polling agency.
To watch a live stream of the Thursday, April 14, Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton Democratic debate five days before the New York primary, use this link to CNN Go, which will stream the Town Hall. An alternative live stream can be found at this link.
[Photos by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Spencer Platt/Getty Images]