NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Liveblogging the fifth 2016 Democratic presidential debate from the great Northwest

Good evening, and wel­come to NPI’s live cov­er­age of the fourth Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial debate of the 2016 cycle. I will be watch­ing and shar­ing impres­sions of the debate as it pro­gress­es. The debate is being broad­cast by MSNBC.

If you don’t have cable, you can livestream the debate online.

Cour­tesy of MSNBC, here’s how you can participate:

  • The debate will air live on MSNBC, begin­ning at 6 PM Pacific
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There are two can­di­dates left seek­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States: Hillary Clin­ton and Bernie Sanders.

This fifth over­all debate will be the first one with just Clin­ton and Sanders. As with Clin­ton and Oba­ma eight years ago, there will be two can­di­dates at two podi­ums… and that’s it. Tonight’s debate will be the only one held between the Iowa cau­cus­es and the New Hamp­shire pri­ma­ry next Tuesday.

Orig­i­nal­ly, this debate was not on the sched­ule put togeth­er by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, but the DNC yield­ed to the cam­paigns’ desire for more debates.

Rachel Mad­dow and Chuck Todd will be the moderators.

6:02 PM: The can­di­dates have tak­en their places onstage!

6:03 PM: Sanders opens first, and wastes no time assail­ing the rigged econ­o­my that Wall Street has constructed.

6:05 PM: In her open­ing state­ment, Clin­ton acknowl­edges eco­nom­ic injus­tice and income inequal­i­ty, but adds we have oth­er prob­lems we need to deal with, like sys­temic racism in our crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

6:06 PM: Chuck Todd asks Clin­ton whether Sanders’ pro­pos­als are too ambi­tious. Clin­ton says, “I want to build on the progress we’ve made. I don’t want to rip away the secu­ri­ty that peo­ple have.” It should be not­ed: Even in the wake of the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act, not not every­one has health­care, Madam Secretary…

6:07 PM: “I haven’t quite run for Pres­i­dent before,” Sanders quips, before begin­ning to answer Chuck Tod­d’s ques­tion regard­ing the scale of his pro­pos­als. “I do not accept the belief that the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca can’t stand up to the ripoffs of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try,” he declares.

6:09 PM: This debate has been incred­i­bly live­ly and fun to watch.

6:13 PM: Clin­ton’s on a tear here, sug­gest­ing that under Sanders’ def­i­n­i­tion, every­one from Joe Biden to Paul Well­stone would­n’t qual­i­fy as a pro­gres­sive. Clin­ton may think she’s being clever, but we doubt Sanders would say that a sin­gle vote or pol­i­cy posi­tion dis­qual­i­fies some­one from being a progressive.

6:15 PM: We need to stand up to the big mon­ey, and when we do that, we can trans­form Amer­i­ca, Sanders says.

6:18 PM: “I know a lot of hard-fight­ing pro­gres­sive in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty… and that’s what we ought to be cel­e­brat­ing, Clin­ton says.

6:19 PM: Sanders says he agrees with Clin­ton about focus­ing on a pos­i­tive vision for the coun­try… and goes on to say, “I am proud to be the only can­di­date up here that does not have a Super PAC.”

6:21 PM: “I am run­ning for Pres­i­dent as a Demo­c­rat,” Sanders says, earn­ing big applause for say­ing that we need a fifty-state strategy.

6:22 PM: Clin­ton jabs at Sanders by not­ing she has the sup­port of Gov­er­nor Howard Dean (the orig­i­na­tor of the fifty state strat­e­gy) and two oth­er Ver­mont gov­er­nors. (Ver­mont is Sanders’ home state.)

6:23 PM: Asked about Clin­ton’s endorse­ments, Sanders points out his cam­paign is of, by, and for the peo­ple, with an aver­age dona­tion of around $27, and has drawn tens of thou­sands of peo­ple to events all around the country.

6:26 PM: “I think it’s time to end the very art­ful smear that your cam­paign has been car­ry­ing out,” Clin­ton says, con­clud­ing a rant about Sanders’ com­ments regard­ing who and what represent.

6:31 PM: Bernie and Hillary are now tus­sling over dereg­u­lat­ing Wall Street.

6:33 PM: Head­ing to our first com­mer­cial break. “We’ve touched a nerve,” Rachel Mad­dow notes.

6:35 PM: We’re back. Chuck Todd is ask­ing about the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry financ­ing sys­tem. Sanders says he’s not using it because it does­n’t work well.

6:38 PM: Have you have been too dis­mis­sive of vot­er con­cerns over your ties to Wall Street? Rachel Mad­dow asks Hillary Clinton.

6:39 PM: “I went to Wall Street before the crash,” Clin­ton says, sug­gest­ing that she warned them their behav­ior was set­ting Amer­i­ca up for disaster.

6:41 PM: Not one Wall Street exec­u­tive has been pros­e­cut­ed for wrong­do­ing per­tain­ing to the onset of the Great Reces­sion and the coun­try’s eco­nom­ic col­lapse, Sanders notes, draw­ing mas­sive applause.

6:42 PM: Sanders invokes Eliz­a­beth War­ren’s name and argues we do need a mod­ern Glass-Stea­gall Act, and goes on to invoke the name of trust­buster Ted­dy Roo­sevelt. “Time to break them up,” Sanders says of the big banks.

6:45 PM: Sanders and Clin­ton have been doing their best to prac­tice mes­sage dis­ci­pline in this debate, return­ing repeat­ed­ly to their main themes.

6:46 PM: “Are you will­ing to release the tran­scripts of your paid speech­es?” Chuck Todd asks. On the defen­sive, Clin­ton says she’ll look into it.

6:48 PM: “The busi­ness mod­el of Wall Street is fraud,” Sanders declares, assail­ing the pow­er­ful finan­cial indus­try for its real­ly awful, no good, destruc­tive behavior.

6:51 PM: We’re tak­ing anoth­er com­mer­cial break.

6:56 PM: We’re back, and switch­ing gears to for­eign pol­i­cy. First ques­tion is about our lev­el of com­mit­ment to fight­ing the Islam­ic State. Clin­ton says she’s com­fort­able with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s strat­e­gy. “I sup­port spe­cial forces, I sup­port train­ers, I sup­port air strikes,” she says.

6:59 PM: Sanders takes the oppor­tu­ni­ty to point out that he dif­fered with Clin­ton about whether invad­ing Iraq was a good idea. (He vot­ed against the inva­sion, she vot­ed to autho­rize Bush to go in.)

7:02 PM: Asked what they would do with respect to troop lev­els in Afghanistan, Sanders and Clin­ton basi­cal­ly say they’d have to eval­u­ate what’s needed.

7:04 PM: Chuck Todd asks Sanders to artic­u­late what his for­eign pol­i­cy doc­trine is, and he replies by talk­ing about his belief that the Unit­ed States should work coop­er­a­tive­ly with oth­er nations to solve world prob­lems, includ­ing terrorism.

7:13 PM: Asked by Chuck Todd what nation-states he would be most wor­ried about (seri­ous­ly, Chuck? You want him to rank a list of coun­tries?) Sanders says he’s very con­cerned about North Korea because it’s so isolated.

7:15 PM: Clin­ton says she’s absolute­ly against pri­va­tiz­ing the VA (our vet­er­ans health­care sys­tem), cred­it­ing Sanders for his work to improve care for our return­ing vet­er­ans, and Sanders agrees: we need to keep our pub­lic VA system.

7:18 PM: Head­ing to break. When we get back, we’ll be talk­ing Social Secu­ri­ty… sup­pos­ed­ly. It might not be the first thing the mod­er­a­tors ask about.

7:24 PM: The first ques­tion is actu­al­ly about the Iowa cau­cus­es. Chuck Todd asks Sanders if he agrees with the Des Moines Reg­is­ter about the need for an audit. Sanders says he does, but says we should­n’t blow the sit­u­a­tion out of pro­por­tion, not­ing not that many del­e­gates over­all are at stake, and that his cam­paign and Clin­ton’s would like­ly end up with about the same num­ber of del­e­gates after any recount, “at the end of the day.”

7:35 PM: Rachel and Chuck have been ask­ing a bunch of ques­tions about elec­tabil­i­ty which don’t break any new ground. Why are we wast­ing time going over old con­tro­ver­sies like Hillary’s emails and the Sanders/DNC Vote­Builder dispute?

7:36 PM: Anoth­er com­mer­cial break? We nev­er talked about Social Security…

7:40 PM: We’re back. Hillary Clin­ton was just asked if she still sup­ports the death penal­ty. She says she does, with caveats. (Boooo… it should be abol­ished.) Sanders explains why he’s for abo­li­tion: “In a world of so much vio­lence and killing, I just don’t believe that gov­ern­ment itself should be part of the killing.”

7:43 PM: Rachel Mad­dow asks Clin­ton and Sanders about the Flint water cri­sis. Clin­ton says she would go in imme­di­ate­ly over state objec­tions to address the emer­gency. She says she’s going to Flint next week to get a briefing.

7:45 PM: Sanders says he does­n’t go around ask­ing for the res­ig­na­tions of gov­er­nors every day, but that he believes that Sny­der should resign. “One won­ders if this had been a white sub­ur­ban com­mu­ni­ty, what kind of response there would have been,” Sanders says to applause.

7:46 PM: Chuck Todd asks Clin­ton about her record on trade and whether Democ­rats can expect her to become sup­port­ive of TPP if she’s elected.

7:47 PM: Clin­ton notes she vot­ed against CAFTA while a sen­a­tor dur­ing the Bush error, and says that she reserved judg­ment on the TPP until it had been nego­ti­at­ed. Now that the text is final, she says she is opposed.

7:48 PM: “I believe in fair trade which works for the mid­dle class,” Sanders says, when asked about his posi­tion on trade. “The cur­rent trade agree­ments were writ­ten by cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca, for cor­po­rate America.”

7:50 PM: Chuck Todd says they’re going to fit in one more break.

7:51 PM: It’s worth paus­ing to note what top­ics have not been the focus of ques­tions dur­ing this fifth Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate. Here is a par­tial list:

  • Edu­ca­tion (and subis­sues like high-stakes testing)
  • Trans­porta­tion (and subis­sues like Amtrak funding)
  • Tech­nol­o­gy (and subis­sues like encryption)
  • Envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion (and subis­sues like fight­ing the cli­mate crisis)
  • Media con­cen­tra­tion (and subis­sues like own­er­ship rules)
  • Wom­en’s health (and subis­sues like attacks on Planned Par­ent­hood clinics)

7:54 PM: We’re back. Chuck Todd asks Clin­ton what she would focus on first: gun reform, immi­gra­tion reform, or address­ing the cli­mate cri­sis. Clin­ton rejects the premise of the ques­tion, say­ing she would work to plant the seeds of every­thing that our coun­try needs to have happen.

7:58 PM: Sanders points out that we’re just not going to get much done on any issue until we do some­thing about mon­ey in pol­i­tics, over­turn­ing bad U.S. Supreme Court deci­sions like Cit­i­zens Cor­po­ra­tions Unit­ed.

8:04 PM: Sanders has the line of the night: “On our worst days I think it is fair to say that we are one hun­dred times bet­ter than any Repub­li­can candidate.”

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shake hands and smile

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clin­ton shake hands and smile at the fifth Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate

8:06 PM: We’re on to clos­ing state­ments. Clin­ton is stick­ing to her theme of being a pro­gres­sive who gets things done. Sanders is remind­ing every­one that the sys­tem is cor­rupt and bro­ken, and we need a polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion to change it.

8:08 PM: We’re done. What a great debate! It was engag­ing, it was feisty, it was fun to watch. As has already been said on Twit­ter, it could be said that Clin­ton has the pol­ish, while Sanders has the pas­sion. What made this debate par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ing and inter­est­ing was that it was just Clin­ton and Sanders togeth­er on stage, going at it, with­out overzeal­ous mod­er­a­tors inter­rupt­ing at every turn.

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