The 2016 Democratic primary contest is being fought on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ turf. Even as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to challenge Bernie Sanders’ plans for free health care and free college as unrealistic, it was clear from last night’s PBS debate in Milwaukee that he has pulled her to the left.
Democratic Presidential Candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wave as they arrive on stage before of the start of the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 11, 2016. Reuters
The primary process tends to pull both parties to their extremes. Then the candidates scramble for the all-important center ground in politics. The role, scope, and size of government will be a general election issue in 2016—it usually is. And while the discussion of a larger role for government last night clearly excited Democrats, it is an open question whether crucial independent voters are in the same place as the Democratic candidates are.
Moderator Judy Woodruff was smart to raise the issue of how much government is enough to Bernie Sanders early in the debate, and it kept coming back throughout the evening. Clinton’s hammered away at the cost of his policies, saying they don’t add up and would raise the cost of government by 40 percent. Her policies, however, by her own admission last night have a $100 billion price tag. That’s expensive, and while Democrats cheer, independents will have doubts.
The debate last night was also about the minority vote in Nevada (minorities may account for 35 percent of the Democratic electorate there) and South Carolina (African Americans could be 55 percent of the voters in the primary) and upcoming other Southern states as well. For this reason, Hillary Clinton clung to Barack Obama who remains popular among minorities. To this, Bernie Sanders reminded her that she had run against him in 2008. The discussion of criminal justice reform, an issue on which there appears to be growing bipartisan support, is especially important in the black community. Clinton is a master debater and her skills were evident again last night, but Bernie Sanders clearly pulls on many Democrats’ heartstrings.
Source: New AEI Feed
Sanders tugs at Democrats’ heartstrings