5 must-see moments from the Democratic debate

LAS VEGAS – Five Democratic presidential hopefuls – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb – took the stage Tuesday night to face off in their first national debate.

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Here are some key moments from the event, hosted by CNN and Facebook in Las Vegas:

1. Sanders slams focus on Clinton’s “damn emails.”

After the former secretary of state fielded a question about her much-discussed email scandal, Sanders slid in with a surprising assist.

“Let me say something that might not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right – and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” said the senator from Vermont.

Clinton nodded emphatically and laughed. “Thank you. Me, too; me, too!” she said.

Sanders later added, “Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”

2. Clinton takes on Sanders over gun control.

It wasn’t all smiles between the two top-polling Democratic candidates. When moderator Anderson Cooper asked Clinton whether Sanders was “tough enough on guns,” Clinton slammed her rival’s record on gun control.

“Sen. Sanders did vote five times against the Brady Bill,” she said. “Since it was passed, more than 2 million prohibited provisions have been prevented.”

The Brady Act mandated background checks and a waiting period for gun purchasers.

Clinton also blasted Sanders for voting for legislation shielding gun manufacturers from lawsuits.

“I voted against it,” she said. “I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn’t that complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward to me that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America. Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers. And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that. We’re not going to let it continue.”

Sanders replied, “As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.”

3. Sanders talks socialism.

Can a self-described “democratic socialist” really win a presidential election? Sanders weighed in.

“What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost – own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent,” he said. “That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because … we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.”

He added, “Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well – not just a handful of billionaires.”

4. Lincoln Chafee can’t explain Glass-Steagall vote.

Clinton and Sanders weren’t the only ones facing tough questions. The spotlight turned to the former governor and senator from Rhode Island when the issue of big banks came up.

“Gov. Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999, you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger,” Cooper said.

Chafee replied, “The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote. I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office – it was my very first vote.”

Cooper interjected, “Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?”

“I think you’re being a little rough,” Chafee said. “I’d just arrived at the United States Senate. I’d been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I’d been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote, and it was 90-5, because it was a conference report.”

5. Clinton defends Planned Parenthood.

When CNN’s Dana Bash asked Clinton how she’d respond to critics who say taxpayer money should not be used to fund mandated paid family leave, the candidate fired back, taking aim at Republicans.

“When people say that, it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, ‘You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care,'” she said. “They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it.”

She added, “We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, ‘big government this, big government that,’ except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.”


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