Sanders: I am not ‘shouting’ at Hillary Clinton

25 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders Highlights Differences With Clinton at Iowa Speech.

Bernie Sanders sharpened the contrast with Hillary Rodham Clinton on a bevy of liberal causes on Saturday, casting himself as a principled progressive before thousands of Iowa Democrats in an appearance that could set the tone for the leadoff presidential caucuses in February.On Saturday night, at the high-stakes Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner, the Vermont senator launched a new, frontal attack on Clinton’s record, caution and character — a direct response to her recent surge in the polls here and nationally, and fueled by her strong performance at the first Democratic debate earlier this month. The vanity candidates had dropped out and the three remaining candidates took the stage at the Iowa Democratic party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, eager to impress 6,000 voters at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines.

Sanders, the independent Vermont senator, never mentioned Clinton by name at the high-profile fundraising dinner but implicitly criticized her delayed opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Keystone XL pipeline as well as her vote in favor of the Iraq war and passage of the Defense of Marriage Act during her husband’s administration. The shift represents a gamble: Can a nice-guy candidate publicly dedicated to running on substance turn to attack mode without sacrificing his reputation as an authentic voice of the people? Bernie Sanders used his speech to the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night to make his sharpest and most aggressive critiques of the Democratic front-runner thus far. Clinton did not respond in kind, making the case that she would be best equipped to take on the Republicans. “I hear Donald Trump when he says we have to make America great again,” Clinton said. “America is great — we just have to make it fair and just.” Clinton and Sanders sit atop a Democratic presidential field that was effectively pared down to two after Vice President Joe Biden announced this week he would not seek the nomination. Clinton made a direct appeal to Biden’s supporters, saying the vice president has been at Obama’s side every step of the way. “He has fought passionately for middle-class families and middle-class values,” she said.

At a pre-dinner rally, Sanders’ supporters flew a single-engine plane with the banner “FEEL THE BERN” directly over a Clinton rally headlined by the pop singer Katy Perry — who got more shout-outs from the candidate than Barack Obama, Joe Biden or Bill Clinton. In 2007, an electrifying speech at the event from senator Barack Obama was credited as a turning point in his epic primary battle against Hillary Clinton. During Clinton’s introduction at the dinner, Sanders’ supporters — many of them in their teens and twenties — tried to drown out her intro with cheers for the democratic socialist. While she and challenger Martin O’Malley — who was hoping for a breakout performance — largely stuck to their stump speeches, Sanders threw out his script.

Without mentioning her by name, Sanders fired off a series of back-to-back jabs clearly aimed at the weakest parts of Clinton’s resume as he portrayed himself as the true progressive in the race who “will govern based on principle not poll numbers.” His section of supporters roared at this key party event, which has a history of dislodging frontrunners — including Clinton in 2008 — in the state that holds the nation’s first nominating contest. “I did not support it yesterday. In his 25-minute speech — backed up by the thundering chants of supporters chanting “Feel the Bern!” — he attacked Clinton’s slowness to take a position on the Keystone pipeline: “This was not a complicated issue,” he said. That’s not the case.” Hillary Clinton said in an interview with MSNBC on Friday that the law was signed as a “defensive action.” Sanders vowed “not to abandon any segment of American society whether you’re gay or black or Latino or poor or working class — just because it is politically expedient at a given time.” Eight years ago, Obama suggested Clinton was motivated by polls and triangulation while the then-New York senator countered that “change is just a word” unless you have the strength and experience to lead.

Clinton, fresh off her steady, disciplined performance before the House Benghazi committee, doesn’t tend to shine in big set-piece, theater-in-the-round speeches, and Saturday was no exception. Sanders led cheering supporters across a Des Moines bridge in a march that included chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the oligarchy has to go!” Clinton’s campaign has been on an upswing this month. The question is whether offering such a critique of his rival, combined with touting his volunteer numbers and donations, will resonate with undecided voters.

She received a boost from Biden’s decision not to run, then put together a grinding, competent appearance before a Republican-led congressional committee probing the deadly 2012 attacks on diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya. Martin O’Malley, Clinton was more measured — except for the moments when she spoke about the struggles of Iowans she’s met while campaigning or her role as a gender pioneer. “Sometimes when a woman speaks out people think it’s shouting,” she intoned — a reference to Sanders’ accusation that she was “shouting” about gun control during the debate.

Two lesser-known rivals, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, abandoned the race following Clinton’s strong performance on Oct. 13 in the first primary debate. The dinner, called the “J-J,” was an important showcase for Sanders, a Vermont independent who has drawn large crowds with his calls for a “political revolution” but trails Clinton in national polls. She drew her most positive response from the crowd when she discussed abortion, saying: “For people who claim they hate big government, Republicans sure love using government to step in and make decisions for women.” The former secretary of state didn’t need to hit the ball out of the park. Its purpose was to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into law. “Let us remember, that support for gay rights back in 1996 was not what it is today,” he added — a pointed reminder of the Clintons’ recent-vintage support of gay marriage.

Although the lines for the bathrooms grew markedly long as the former Maryland governor spoke, he drew strong applause at times, particularly when he went after the National Rifle Association as “craven and morally bankrupt”. But a revitalized Clinton — and the absence of a Joe Biden candidacy to redefine the race in his favor — now necessitates a mid-course correction. But he bear-hugged him Saturday night. “Eight years ago the experts talked about how another Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama, couldn’t win,” he said. “How he was unelectable.

The biggest rally saw thousands attend for Clinton, who was billed third behind both former President Bill Clinton, making his first appearance on the campaign trail, and pop star Katy Perry. Ready to go!” call- and-response chant that tore through the room — and shocked a less organized, less fired-up Clinton campaign that was based on experience and competence. Bill and Hillary also were among the last people to leave the arena — they lingered on the rope line, signing books and taking selfies for close to an hour after event ended and all the other candidates had departed.

Hours before the dinner, the Clinton campaign announced an endorsement from David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager. “To be honest, during the most intense days of the 2008 primary, I would never have imagined writing this,” said Plouffe. “And I doubt Team Clinton felt any differently about me. … She’s the right person to protect President Obama’s legacy on health care and so much else.” Sanders stood at the front, part of a group holding a giant campaign banner, while supporters behind him displayed signs stating “the revolution is here” and “the revolution is now”. As the tail end of a five-block line to attend the Clinton event stretched out, more than 100 O’Malley supporters cheered while waiting for their own special musical guest: the candidate himself. O’Malley has led a Baltimore “Celtic rock” bar band for more than a decade; on Saturday his campaign had their candidate strumming an acoustic guitar. While Clinton’s celebrity guest, Katy Perry, sat in a front row table and was given a round of applause, Sanders’s own celebrity, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, sat anonymously in the bleachers.

Kramer told the Guardian: “I am supporting Bernie because he’s the only candidate that’s actually speaking to the actual challenges that the country faces.” “If you look at Katy Perry’s music, she’s auto-tuned and about as unauthentic as its possible to be,” Kramer said. “We, on the other hand, are sometimes out of tune, sometimes we sing flat, but we’re doing this with all our real heart and our minds.”

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