Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Clinton, Sanders spar in NY debate

DEMOCRATIC SHOWDOWN:The debate came ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New York, a high-stakes contest with a huge cache of delegates at stake

AP, NEW YORK

Democratic US presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Bernie Sanders speak simultaneously during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Democratic US presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Thursday aggressively challenged each other’s judgment to be president in a Democratic debate, wrangling over Wall Street banks, the minimum wage and gun control just days before the critical New York primary.

The showdown in Brooklyn came at a pivotal moment in the party’s primary campaign, with Clinton leading in the delegate count, but Sanders generating huge enthusiasm for his surprising candidacy.

Clinton has accumulated 1,289 pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses, while Sanders has 1,038. Her lead grows significantly when the superdelegates are added in: 1,758 for Clinton and 1,069 for Sanders.

It takes 2,383 to clinch the Democratic nomination. Sanders would need to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates to reach that figure.

The Vermont senator took a biting and often sarcastic tone as he sought to chip away at Clinton’s credibility. He cited her support for the unpopular Iraq war and for free trade agreements, as well as her willingness to accept money through a super political action committee, as evidence that she lacks the needed judgment to lead the nation.

Still, Sanders backed away from previous statements questioning Clinton’s qualifications, saying the former secretary of state does have the “experience and intelligence” to be president.

Clinton made little effort to hide her irritation with Sanders’ challenging of her qualifications, saying that while she has been “called a lot of things in my life, that was a first.”

She also cast Sanders as unprepared to implement even his signature policy proposals, including breaking up big banks.

“I think you need to have the judgement on day one to be commander in chief,” she said.

The debate was the first for the Democratic candidates in five weeks. It came ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New York, a high-stakes contest with a huge cache of delegates at stake.

For Clinton, a win in her adopted home state would blunt Sanders’ recent momentum and put his pursuit of the nomination further out of reach. A Sanders upset over Clinton would shake up the race, raising fresh concerns about her candidacy and breathing new life into the Vermont senator’s campaign.

On the Republican side, protests raged outside a state party gala as Republican frontrunner Donald Trump delivered an impassioned defense of the city he calls home. The billionaire businessman praised the city’s response to the nation’s deadliest terrorist attacks in remarks designed to jab leading rival Ted Cruz, a Texas senator who has repeatedly condemned “New York values” in his push to defeat the New York real estate mogul.

Trump was the target of rowdy protesters, who hung an effigy of the billionaire businessman and chanted: “How do you spell racist? T-R-U-M-P.”

The raucous scene came shortly after Florida prosecutors dismissed a criminal complaint against Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, two weeks after local police charged him with grabbing a reporter.

The Democratic primary has been fought for months on familiar terrain. Clinton has cast Sanders’ proposals for breaking up banks and offering free tuition at public colleges and universities as unrealistic. Sanders has accused Clinton of being part of a rigged economic and political system, hammering her repeatedly for giving paid speeches to Wall Street banks and refusing to release the transcripts.

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