Just a few days removed from Hillary Clinton narrowly defeating Bernie Sanders in Iowa by about as close as an election can get, we’re already headed full steam toward the New Hampshire primary where Sanders is expected to walk away with a fairly easy victory in his neighboring state.
But before New Hampshire voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Clinton and Sanders worked with each other to put together last night’s CNN town hall and tonight’s full-on Democratic presidential debate. Events that, I believe, are welcomed by most.
Being so close to Iowa, and with a full-fledged debate tonight, I didn’t particularly expect a big pivot from either candidate heading into last night’s town hall. I think if there’s any “big moment” this week, we’ll see that tonight during the actual debate.
First up was Bernie Sanders, who did well. He usually hammers home the same core points in all of these events, just as he says the same thing in pretty much every interview, press conference and debate. Which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. His message is undoubtedly popular with those who follow him and has resonated with millions of Americans. Despite what many people seem to think about me, I do like Bernie Sanders. My issues when it comes to him as the Democratic nominee have always been whether or not he can win in a general election and how he plans to get these huge ideas on which he’s running passed through Congress. While I know he relies heavily upon the phrase “political revolution,” that’s not a realistic answer as to how he plans to get through trillions in tax hikes, socialize our health care and make public college free when President Obama can’t even get Congress to sign off on universal background checks for all gun purchases. Again, it’s not that I don’t like his ideas, but there’s a difference between selling goals and selling an achievable plan to meet those goals.
But the bottom line is, I do like Bernie Sanders. If he wins the Democratic nomination, I’ll gladly fight for him to be our nation’s next president. He did very well last night and I still fully expect him to sail to a fairly easy victory over Clinton on Tuesday.
Hillary Clinton also had a good night. For her, this was really about trying to improve her margin of loss for a “moral victory” more than trying to win New Hampshire. Like Sanders, Clinton didn’t say or do anything that she hasn’t said or done in the past. Again, I’m not saying that’s bad. However, when she’s down by as much as some polls say she is in New Hampshire, she really needed to have a “moment” that could possibly sway some voters to her side. I really didn’t see that moment last night – at least not in a way where I think it would make a huge difference at the polls on Tuesday.
I did like when she was asked about whether or not she would rule out using military force in the future and she chose not to pander to that question by saying she would. Instead, she told the young man she couldn’t promise not to use military force in the future because she couldn’t predict what the future would hold. While I know that’s not a popular answer to many on the left, in my opinion, that is the type of answer a president should give. While I’m someone who believes military force should be a last resort, I don’t think the decision to go to war should be based on popular opinion. If it’s needed, it’s needed. While that’s clearly a subjective stance, I think it’s pandering (and naive) for any president to say what they will or won’t do about war based on future circumstances they cannot predict.
Overall, with each of these town halls or debates, I can’t help but recognize how lucky Democrats are to have two adults running for president. Two candidates who talk about the issues based on heart, passion and brains rather than cheap talking points and petty personal jabs. While they’ll never admit it, these events have to terrify the Republican party.
Both candidates did well last night and I don’t think there was any particular “winner.” The truth of the matter is, Democrats have two great candidates running for the nomination. While neither candidate is perfect, and I have issues with both, I will proudly vote for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders this November. As I’ve said countless times already, we cannot allow Republicans to win back the White House in 2016. With everything that’s riding on this election, letting Republicans win in November would set this country back decades, to a point from which we may never recover.
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