By Amanda Moses and Pamela Stern
Tensions were at an all-time high during the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 14th. Just a few days shy of the New York Presidential Primary, April 19th, New Yorkers were given the opportunity to determine which candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont State Senator Bernie Sanders, would be the best candidate to represent the Democrats on the Presidential ballot.
Both candidates were vying for votes in New York during the ninth and final debate before the New York Primary. The gloves were off and they were puling out all the punches to get ahead in the polls. However, Tuesday night’s polls revealed that Clinton won New York’s Democratic Primary and Donald Trump won by a landslide in the Republican Primary. Next week, Presidential Primaries will be held in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island on Tuesday, April 26th.
The New York Debate unfolded with an intense verbal sparring session between both candidates regarding breaking up the banks on Wall Street, healthcare, foreign policy, gun control, climate change and transparency, and at some points, causing CNN debate moderator Wolf Blitzer to intervene, stating: “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.”
During the debate, when the topic of qualifications for presidency and planning arose, both candidates battled it out. Clinton said, “So, look, we have disagreements on policy. There’s no doubt about it. But if you go and read, which I hope all of you will before Tuesday, Senator Sanders’ long interview with the New York Daily News, talk about judgment and talk about the kinds of problems he had answering questions about even his core issue, breaking up the banks…”
In response to Clinton’s statement, Sanders said, “Let’s talk about judgment; and let us talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country. I led the opposition to that war. Secretary Clinton voted for that. Well, let’s talk about judgment. Let’s talk about super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, money which is completely undisclosed. Where does the money come from? Do we really feel confident about a candidate saying that she’s going to bring change in America when she is so dependent on big money interests?”
Another hot topic between the candidates was increasing the minimum wage. Sanders supports a $15 Federal minimum wage. “I think we have got to be clear, not equivocate, $15 in minimum wage in 50 states in this country as soon as possible,” Sanders said.
Clinton supported Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation to increase New York’s minimum wage to $15, however, she is opposed to a federal minimum wage increase of that same amount. “I have supported the fight for $15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for $15… But what I have also said is that we’ve got to be smart about it, just the way Governor Cuomo was here in New York. If you look at it, we moved more quickly to $15 in New York City, more deliberately toward $12, $12.50 upstate then to $15. That is exactly my position. It’s a model for the nation and that’s what I will do as president.”
Since both candidates have connections to Brooklyn (Clinton’s campaign headquarters are located in Brooklyn and Sanders is a Brooklyn native) they tried to convince New Yorkers that they would do what’s best for the state and the country. The common topic at hand was change—moving forward towards a better, greener future. For Clinton, these changes should occur incrementally, and for Sanders, on the other hand, these changes should happen immediately, sweeping across the nation.
In addition to Blitzer’s questions, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and NY1 “Inside City Hall” Host and CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis grilled the candidates with inquires that looked into their policy choices and political background.
Louis asked the candidates: “Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, you also pioneered a program to promote fracking around the world, as you described. Fracking, of course, is a way of extracting natural gas. Now as a candidate for president, you say that by the time you’re done with all your rules and regulations, fracking will be restricted in many places around the country. Why have you changed your view on fracking?”
“No, well, I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas,” said Clinton.
Sanders was unconvinced by Clinton’s statements because he believes fracking lobbyists play a large role in her decisions: “All right, here is–here is a real difference. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough,” Sanders said.
Annoyed with his response, Clinton fired back, “I don’t take a back seat to your legislation that you’ve introduced that you haven’t been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis. That’s exactly what I have proposed. And my approach I think is going to get us there faster without tying us up into political knots with a congress that still would not support what you are proposing.”
The back-and-forth responses between both candidates revealed much about their goals, plans and outlook for their potential presidency. For more coverage, visit the Spring Creek Sun’s website, www.springcreeksunonline.com, to see exclusive responses with local politicians and candidate representatives directly after the CNN Democratic Primary debate.