The Second Democratic Debate: Clinton v. Sanders

In the wake of the barbaric attacks in Paris, my birthplace, I would like to take a moment to reflect. What happened in Paris will fundamentally change the idea that the Mideast crisis is a regional conflict that we only understand passively through our screens.

It will also carry huge political repercussions.

The visceral nature of these events will be an impetus for additional stigmatization of immigrant groups, especially the millions of refugees streaming out of the Mideast and Africa. The wounds won’t heal quickly, but with compassion and resolve. we can stand strong against extremism of all walks.

Let us not allow this event to stoke hatred; let it force us to reflect as a global community on how we can defeat ISIL, while retaining our humanity and aiding those who have experienced this barbarism daily in their villages and cities. My deepest condolences to all affected by Friday’s tragedy.


The Democratic debate held on Saturday evening was initially slated to focus on immigration. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, it was agreed that the major topics of discussion would be the fight against ISIL and national security.



Parts of the debate also veered into discussions of campaign finance, the economy and college tuition among others.

CBS News polled viewers on who won the debate: Hillary Clinton 51%, Bernie Sanders 28% and 7% for Martin O’Malley. Clinton may have won the debate, but that might not be enough for such a well-positioned front-runner.

Despite nearly 7 million fewer viewers compared to the CNN debate in October, Sanders made sure to increasingly highlight policy differences.

On the national security front, Bernie Sanders went on the offensive. He forcefully made the distinction between his vote against the war in Iraq and that of then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who voted in favor of the war. When pressed by moderator John Dickerson on whether he was making a connection between Clinton’s disastrous vote on the Iraq war and the current status of ISIL, Sanders did not back down.

Sanders floundered slightly when trying to describe his more conservative approach to regime change. He was forceful when making the point that Middle Eastern countries, “Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan … they’re going to have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground.” Adding that, “this is a war for the soul of Islam.”

There was discussion about the minimum wage where Sanders came in at $15/hr and Clinton at $12/hr, but with higher minimums in big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Clinton faced criticism from Sanders on her closeness with the banks, which she responded to by saying that her time as New York's senator forced her to build those relationships.

She also questionably invoked 9/11 in the context of it having happened geographically close to Wall Street, a connection that did not sit well with many viewers.

Sanders brought up the issue of climate change, noting that it is the most significant national security problem and making a controversial connection between climate change and terrorism. He reiterated that concern on "Face the Nation" when questioned by Dickerson less that 24 hours after they both appeared on stage in Iowa.

Sanders is still significantly trailing Clinton in the polls and when asked Sunday morning on "Face the Nation" about whether he needs to draw a stronger distinction between himself and Clinton, he said: “Hillary Clinton and I have very substantive disagreements on a number of major issues. I think what democracy is about is letting the American people hear those differences.”
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