Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the sixth Democratic debate
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the sixth Democratic debate

Good evening, and wel­come to NPI’s live cov­er­age of the sixth Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial debate of the 2016 cycle. I will be watch­ing and shar­ing impres­sions of the debate as it pro­gress­es. The debate is being orga­nized and broad­cast by PBS affil­i­ates like KCTS 9, and simul­cast by CNN. If you don’t get PBS over the air, or you don’t have cable, you can livestream the debate online with YouTube.

PBS will post peri­od­ic updates as the debate pro­gress­es on NewsHour’s Face­book page and on its @NewsHour Twit­ter feed.

There are two can­di­dates left seek­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States: Hillary Clin­ton and Bernie Sanders.

This sixth over­all debate will be the sec­ond one with just Clin­ton and Sanders on stage, going head to head. Tonight’s debate will be the only debate held between the New Hamp­shire Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry and the Neva­da Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus­es on Feb­ru­ary 20th. The next debate is sched­uled for March 6th, in Flint, Michi­gan, fol­low­ing the South Car­oli­na Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry and Super Tuesday.

The mod­er­a­tors will be PBS’ Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.

We will begin our live cov­er­age at 6 PM, when the can­di­dates take the stage.

UPDATE, 6 PM: Here we go! Our mod­er­a­tors have arrived.

UPDATE, 6:04 PM: Bernie Sanders is giv­ing his open­ing state­ment first. He’s reit­er­at­ing his cam­paign themes — blast­ing income inequal­i­ty, mon­ey in pol­i­tics, estab­lish­ment pol­i­tics, and estab­lish­ment economics.

UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Hillary Clin­ton has now deliv­ered her open­ing state­ment, stress­ing her com­mit­ment to build­ing on the progress that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has made (though she did not men­tion Oba­ma by name).

UPDATE, 6:11 PM: We’re back from a brief break. First ques­tion goes to Bernie Sanders — and sad­ly, it’s root­ed in right wing fram­ing: How big you believe gov­ern­ment should be? (Bad ques­tion, Judy. The big/small dichoto­my is not what’s impor­tant. What pro­gres­sives are after is gov­ern­ment that is effective.)

UPDATE, 6:12 PM: Sanders responds by point­ing out that we need to pool our resources to tack­le our gap­ing infra­struc­ture deficit and live up to our moral respon­si­bil­i­ty of pro­vid­ing health­care for all.

UPDATE, 6:13 PM: Clin­ton jumps in and sug­gests that imple­men­ta­tion of Sanders’ plan would make the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment 40% bigger.

UPDATE, 6:15 PM, “In my view, health­care is a right for all peo­ple,” Sanders says, defend­ing the idea of Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:16 PM: “I’ve set forth very spe­cif­ic plans on how to get costs down,” Clin­ton says, argu­ing that it makes more sense to incre­men­tal­ly build on the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act than to try to move quick­ly towards Medicare For All.

UPDATE, 6:18 PM: Sanders respond­ed by point­ing out the Unit­ed States is the only major devel­oped coun­try on Earth that does­n’t guar­an­tee health­care to its peo­ple as a right. Want­i­ng the last word, Clin­ton declares that we’re not France, the Unit­ed King­dom, or Cana­da, and again assails Sanders’ plans as unrealistic.

UPDATE, 6:24 PM: The can­di­dates are agreed on the prin­ci­ple of low­er­ing the cost of col­lege, but each claims the oth­er’s plan is infe­ri­or to theirs.

We’ve heard much of this exchange before…

UPDATE, 6:29 PM: “I’m not ask­ing peo­ple to sup­port me because I’m a woman,” Clin­ton says, after lis­ten­ing to Sanders field anoth­er sil­ly ques­tion about how he feels about his can­di­da­cy poten­tial­ly pre­vent­ing Amer­i­ca from elect­ing the first woman pres­i­dent in 2016.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM: Sanders just deliv­ered one of his finest debate answers yet, slam­ming Repub­li­cans for hyp­o­crit­i­cal­ly want­i­ng the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to dic­tate wom­en’s repro­duc­tive deci­sions while non­sen­si­cal­ly push­ing for 1790s-size, 1890s-size, or 1950s-sized fed­er­al government.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM: Final­ly, a decent, sub­stan­tive ques­tion: How would you address the dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly high black male prison population?

UPDATE, 6:34 PM: Sanders and Clin­ton agree: we need to demil­i­ta­rize our police and insist on crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms (polic­ing, sen­tenc­ing) that will end prej­u­di­cial prac­tices by law enforce­ment per­son­nel. Sys­temic racism needs to be com­bat­ed more broad­ly as well, as Hillary Clin­ton not­ed. “We have to talk about jobs, edu­ca­tion, hous­ing,” Clin­ton noted.

UPDATE, 6:38 PM: Stick­ing with the same theme, Judy Woodruff asks, “What would you do to improve race relations?”

UPDATE, 6:40 PM: Clin­ton prais­es Pres­i­dent Oba­ma for his work dig­ging Amer­i­ca out from the ditch Pres­i­dent Bush left the coun­try in, but notes we can’t rest. The advent of social media, she points out, has helped expose a lot of the dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices in our coun­try that have con­tin­ued, even in the wake of the civ­il rights vic­to­ries of the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Sanders draws the con­nec­tion between dis­as­trous trade and eco­nom­ic poli­cies and under­em­ploy­ment, income inequal­i­ty, and eco­nom­ic injustice.

UPDATE, 6:47 PM: Mov­ing on to com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform…

UPDATE, 6:48 PM: Sanders says new Amer­i­cans would not need to fear depor­ta­tion under a Sanders pres­i­den­cy. “I dis­agree with his recent depor­ta­tion poli­cies,” Sanders says of Oba­ma, after prais­ing Oba­ma for his exec­u­tive order on immi­gra­tion, which is being lit­i­gat­ed right now at the Supreme Court.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM: Clin­ton agrees… “I’m against the raids,” she says. “I was one of the orig­i­nal spon­sors of the DREAM Act,” she adds.

UPDATE, 6:51 PM: After being crit­i­cized by Clin­ton, Sanders defend­ed his 2007 immi­gra­tion vote by point­ing out that the leg­is­la­tion con­tained an awful, immoral guest work­er pro­gram that was opposed by the AFL-CIO, South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, and oth­er pro­gres­sive groups.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM: “If elect­ed Pres­i­dent, I will do every­thing I can to expand Social Secu­ri­ty,” Sanders declares, answer­ing a ques­tion from Face­book (“How will you ensure the basic needs of senior cit­i­zens are met?”)

UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Clin­ton agrees that Social Secu­ri­ty should be expand­ed, but says she wants to focus on help­ing those who are most at risk first.

UPDATE, 6:59 PM: Sanders chal­lenges Clin­ton on her com­mit­ment to expand­ing Social Secu­ri­ty, not­ing that groups like the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee (PCCC) have asked Clin­ton to com­mit to scrap­ping the cap. Clin­ton reit­er­ates that she thinks she and Sanders are in “vig­or­ous agree­ment” about expand­ing Social Secu­ri­ty, but declines to endorse Sanders’ approach.

UPDATE, 7:03 PM: Next ques­tion… “What influ­ence will your cam­paign con­trib­u­tors have on your administration?”

UPDATE, 7:06 PM: We’re hav­ing quite a vig­or­ous debate about the influ­ence of mon­ey in cam­paigns affect­ing pub­lic pol­i­cy. Sanders is mak­ing the point that unfet­tered cor­po­rate elec­tion­eer­ing has had a neg­a­tive effect on our coun­try, and that Wall Street does­n’t donate to super PACs just for the fun of it. Clin­ton notes that Barack Oba­ma pushed for and signed Dodd-Frank into law even though he was the recip­i­ent of Wall Street’s largesse. Sanders retort­ed that while he sup­port­ed for Dodd-Frank and got an amend­ment into the bill, it did­n’t go far enough.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM: We’re head­ing to an intermission.

Clinton and Sanders at the sixth Democratic debate
Clin­ton and Sanders at the sixth Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate

UPDATE, 7:16 PM: We’re back. And to our dis­may, the first ques­tion is a lame fol­low-up from the bad first ques­tion that was asked at the begin­ning of the debate (Is there any aspect of gov­ern­ment you’d like to reduce or get rid of?) Sanders and Clin­ton both gave short answers at first, though Sanders wise­ly opt­ed to tack on to his by not­ing that our defense bud­get is bloat­ed and has many waste­ful programs.

UPDATE, 7:17 PM: Next ques­tion is about whether we are ready for the next attack against the Unit­ed States. Clin­ton has the first oppor­tu­ni­ty to respond.

UPDATE, 7:23 PM: The back and forth is get­ting more live­ly now. Clin­ton is lever­ag­ing her expe­ri­ence in her answers, respond­ing to Sanders’ crit­i­cism that she vot­ed to autho­rize the inva­sion of Iraq by say­ing, “I do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS,” Mean­while, Sanders con­tin­ues to points out that past Amer­i­can med­dling around the world has pro­duced unin­tend­ed consequences.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM: Wow. Sanders just unloaded, com­plete­ly, on Hen­ry Kissinger and attacked his record as Richard Nixon’s Sec­re­tary of State.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM: We’re still talk­ing for­eign pol­i­cy, dis­cussing what’s the best approach to Rus­si­a’s empire-build­ing ambi­tions and inter­ven­tion in the con­flict in Syr­ia. (Rus­sia has been mil­i­tary assist­ing the Assad regime in fight­ing the Syr­i­an rebels that nations in NATO and the West support.)

UPDATE, 7:40 PM: Next ques­tion is, “What more should the U.S. do to lead the effort to help refugees?”

UPDATE, 7:41 PM: Sanders is recount­ing his vis­it to a refugee camp in Turkey. He goes on to declare: “I very strong­ly dis­agree with those Repub­li­can can­di­dates who say, ‘You know, we’ve got­ta turn our backs on those women and chil­dren who are flee­ing’ ” from the vio­lence in Syr­ia and oth­er trou­bled places in the world.

UPDATE, 7:46 PM: Asked to name one Amer­i­can leader and one for­eign leader that would inspire his deci­sion­mak­ing, Sanders cites FDR and Win­ston Churchill.

UPDATE, 7:47 PM: Sanders and Clin­ton are going at it over Sanders’ sup­port (or lack there­of) for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

UPDATE, 7:50 PM: Sanders hit back at Clin­ton over her crit­i­cisms by not­ing he did­n’t run against Barack Oba­ma, then segued into his clos­ing state­ment, in which he explained why he believes a polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion is nec­es­sary to pre­vent our coun­try from head­ing down a very dark road.

UPDATE, 7:51 PM: Clin­ton’s turn for a clos­ing state­ment. She wast­ed no time in tak­ing an appar­ent shot at Sanders, say­ing she’s not run­ning as a sin­gle issue can­di­date. (Sanders would no doubt laugh at the crit­i­cism that he is a sin­gle-issue can­di­date.) “I’m going to keep talk­ing about tear­ing down all of the bar­ri­ers stop­ping Amer­i­ca from liv­ing up to its poten­tial,” she says.

UPDATE, 7:53 PM: And with that, we’re done. It was anoth­er feisty debate, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the end. We wish there had been ques­tions asked about edu­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion, and the cli­mate cri­sis, instead of how big gov­ern­ment should be.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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