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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 15
Gloves come off in Dem primary battle:

Sanders and Clinton trade punches
Section One
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Gloves come off in Dem primary battle:

Sanders and Clinton trade punches

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In the wake of Bernie Sanders' 14-point primary win in Wisconsin on April 5, Sanders and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton got into a slugfest over their respective qualifications for high office.

Clinton struck first, exploiting a less-than-stellar Sanders interview with the pro-Clinton New York Daily News, in which the Vermont senator seemed to fumble a question about how exactly he would break up the big banks.

Sanders 'hadn't done his homework,' Clinton told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on the morning after the Wisconsin primary, and had 'been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn't really studied or understood.'

'Like a lot of people, I am concerned that some of his ideas just won't work because the numbers don't add up,' she repeated to the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. 'Others won't even pass Congress. In a number of important areas, he doesn't have a plan at all.'

Clinton also tried to cast doubt on Sanders' embrace of the Democratic Party.

'He's a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I'm not even sure he is one,' Clinton said in an April 6 interview in Politico. 'He's running as one. So I don't know quite how to characterize him. I'll leave that to him.'

'I am also a Democrat and have been a proud Democrat all my adult life,' Clinton repeated at a campaign rally later that day. 'And I think that is kind of important if we are selecting someone to be the Democratic nominee of the Democratic Party.'

Sanders describes himself as a 'democratic socialist' and has previously run for office as an independent.

While Clinton had already tried to pivot to general election mode after a string of primary election victories in March - concentrating her fire against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump - Sanders' better-than-expected performance in Wisconsin apparently rattled her campaign.

'The Clinton campaign has been watching these Wisconsin results come in,' CNN reported, 'and the delegate race of course is tight there, but the reality is they're running out of patience. So they're going to begin deploying a new strategy; it's going to be called 'disqualify him, defeat him,' and then they can unify the party later.'

Sanders struck back in a speech later on April 6.

'Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little bit nervous,' he told a crowd in Philadelphia. 'And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am 'not qualified' to be president.

'Well, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don't believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don't think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC.

'I don't think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don't think you are qualified if you have supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs,' he said to applause.

'I don't think you are qualified if you've supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed and, which as all of you know, has allowed corporations and wealthy [people] all over the world ... to avoid paying their taxes to their countries.'

An April 3 story in the New York Times cited unnamed Sanders campaign officials who wanted him to get tougher with Clinton, blaming his loss in the Nevada primary on his initial reluctance to go negative on her.

Perhaps motivated by the Times story, Sanders struck an aggressive note in an April 7 press conference at an AFL-CIO gathering in Philadelphia, warning Clinton that 'this campaign will fight back,' against attacks on his credibility.

'When you have headlines in the Washington Post, 'Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president,' my response is, 'Well, if you want to question my qualifications, let me suggest this. Maybe the American people might wonder about your qualifications, Madame Secretary,' Sanders said.

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