Sanders Comes Under Barrage Of Attacks During South Carolina Democratic Debate
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) came under a barrage of attacks Tuesday evening during the South Carolina Democratic debate, as moderate candidates attempted to block the momentum of the progressive 78-year-old’s campaign.
Sanders was criticized for his record of supporting gun companies, his positive comments about the authoritarian regime in Cuba and his electability against President Donald Trump.
Even Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), whose platform is strikingly similar to Sanders’s took a shot at the Vermont senator saying, “You know, but Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie.”
She noted both of them plan to institute a Medicare-for-All program, but that he has not explained how his plan would be funded.
“Bernie and I both want to see universal health care, but Bernie’s plan doesn’t explain how to get there, doesn’t show how we’re going to get enough allies into it, and doesn’t show enough about how we’re going to pay for it,” Warren said, before spending the rest of the evening going after billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
Bloomberg kicked off the beginning of the debate by claiming Russia was working to get Sanders elected.
“Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States,” Bloomberg said during his opening comments. “And that’s why Russia is helping you get elected, so you will lose to him.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden then attacked Sanders’ record on gun violence, referring directly to the Charleston church shooting that occurred in 2015.
“Walking distance of here is Mother Emanuel Church, nine people shot dead by a white supremacist,” Biden said.
He continued, “Bernie voted five times against the Brady Bill and wanted … a waiting period of 12 hours. I’m not saying he’s responsible for the nine deaths, but that man would not have been able to get that weapon with the waiting period had been what I suggest until you are cleared.”
Sanders defended his questionable voting record regarding guns, by touting his current D- rating from the National Rifle Association.
“I have cast thousands of votes, including bad votes,” Sanders said. “That was a bad vote [in exempting gun manufacturers from liability]. I have today a D-minus voting record from the NRA.”
Sanders then took heat for his history of sympathizing with socialist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua, but argued that he has “opposed authoritarianism all over the world” and said his position on Cuba was similar to former President Barack Obama‘s stance.
“Occasionally, it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy, and that includes the fact that America has overthrown governments all over the world, in Chile, in Guatemala, in Iran, and when dictatorships, whether it is the Chinese or the Cubans, do something good, you acknowledge that,” Sanders said.
Biden responded that Obama “did not in any way suggest that there was anything positive about the Cuban government.”
Billionaire Tom Steyer avoided attacking Sanders for the most part, except for mentioning: “I don’t like [Sanders’] solutions. I don’t believe that a government takeover of large parts of the economy makes any sense for working people or for families.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) tried to paint herself as moderate candidates capable of uniting the Democratic Party, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg emphasized the importance of moderate Democrats in the House and Senate.
“The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters,” Buttigieg said to Sanders. “Look, if you want to keep the House in Democratic hands, you might want to check with the people who actually turned the House blue: 40 Democrats who are not running on your platform. They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can.”
Klobuchar echoed Buttigieg’s point that a socialist nominee would not be the correct choice to defeat Trump.
“We have a clear choice of who’s going to lead this party,” Klobuchar said. “And I am the only one in the New Hampshire debate, when asked, if we had a problem with a socialist leading the ticket, that raised my hand.”
She continued: “I like Bernie. We came in together to the Senate. But I do not think that this is the best person to lead the ticket.”