Tough talk in Clinton-Sanders Democratic debate
FLINT, Michigan (AP) - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tangled aggressively in a presidential debate Sunday night over trade and Wall Street influence, with Clinton accusing her challenger of turning his back on a rescue of the auto industry and Sanders countering that Clinton's friends on Wall Street had "destroyed this economy."
It was a marked change in tone for the two Democrats, signaling Sanders' increasingly difficult effort to slow the Democratic front-runner. Both candidates frequently interrupted each over one another and accused each other of misrepresenting their records.
"Let's have some facts instead of some rhetoric for a change," Clinton snapped at Sanders at one point.
"Let me tell my story, you tell yours," Sanders shot back at another. "Your story is voting for every disastrous trade amendment and voting for corporate America."
More than once, Sanders chafed at Clinton's interruptions, saying, "Excuse me, I'm talking" or "Let me finish, please."
Their disagreements were clear, but still the debate's tone was nothing like that of the Republican debate in Detroit just three days earlier, a four-way faceoff that was marked by a steady stream of personal attacks, insults and even sexual innuendo. The Democrats' faceoff, in comparison, was a more civil if heated affair.
Sanders also took direct aim at the former secretary of state's paid speeches to Wall Street banks and other financial companies. She promised to release transcripts of her private remarks only if all her opponents - Democratic and Republican - did the same.
"I'm your Democratic opponent, I release it," Sanders said, throwing imaginary speech transcripts into the air. "Here it is. There ain't nothin'. I don't give speeches to Wall street for hundreds of thousands of dollars."
With Clinton continuing to widen her considerable lead in the Democratic delegate count, Sanders sees upcoming Midwestern primaries as a crucial opportunity to slow her momentum by highlighting his trade policies. After Michigan's vote on Tuesday, the March 15 primaries include Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
In Michigan, manufacturing jobs have rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, but their numbers are still much lower than they were 20 years ago. Wages are lower, after adjusting for inflation, than when the recession started in December 2007.
The state's unemployment rate has fallen to 5.1 percent, its lowest mark in more than a decade, but is still slightly higher than the national average of 4.9 percent.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has at least 1,123 delegates to Sanders' 484, including superdelegates - members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
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