Clinton, Sanders Debate: "Obviously We've Hit A Nerve"

Despite Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd having a mere five days to put together questions for last night's Democratic debate, they easily found the pressure points in the first one-on-one debate this cycle.

Topics varied widely. Todd and Maddow covered the definition of the progressive label, the crisis in the Mideast, health care, electability, among other topics.

Both candidates reaffirmed their positions, and there was clearly some pent-up tension that they needed to fan.

Sen. Bernie Sanders reiterated his call for a “political revolution.”

When asked a question about the plausibility of getting his policies through Congress, the longest-ever-serving Independent in the Senate explained that his campaign thrust. It is not just about electing a president, it is about getting “millions of people … involved in the political process” who had not been in the past.

Sanders pointed to the correlation between higher election turnout and Democratic wins. He then connected that with the enthusiasm which has exploded around his campaign -- exemplified by his 3.5 million individual contributions.



Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a strong case for her electability, one point where she can seriously differentiate herself from Bernie Sanders. She was also able to pin Sanders as a candidate who doesn’t see the big picture, instead focusing on one or two issues.

Highlighting her strong relationships in the political sphere, Hillary Clinton invoked her closeness to President Obama and mentioned Vermont lawmaker Howard Dean, who has endorsed her and was in the crowd last night.

Touching on a point that was brought up in Wednesday’s CNN town hall event, the candidates reacted most viscerally to questions about progressivism.

In tense and scathing exchanges yet to be seen in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton defended her progressive history as a lawmaker and administration official, adding: “I am a progressive who gets things done. And the root of that word, progressive, is progress.”

Sanders, on the other hand, attempted to discredit Clinton’s progressive credentials, as he did at the recent CNN town hall and has in advertisements.

This was when the debate heat turned up.

Clinton, responding to Sanders’ attacks on her Wall Street and big donor relationships, said: “I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.”

When the conversation turned to foreign policy and the Mideast, there was only one winner. Sanders had to admit “that Secretary Clinton, who was Secretary of State for four years, has more experience -- that is not arguable -- in foreign affairs.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa … wow,” Bernie Sanders mumbled during one of the exchanges -- surely many watching had a similar reaction last night.

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