Dear Commons Community,
The debate last night between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders covered a lot of the same ground and issues that we have seen in the previous debates: health care, free college tuition, Iraq War/ISIS, and corporate influence. I thought the last item generated the most audience reactions with both cheers and boos especially when Sanders questioned Clinton on why big banks and financial interests have given her PAC money and paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees.
Clinton directly told Sanders that it was time to end his “smear” by insinuation.
“Time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is an attack that he is putting forth,” she said.
She went on to say that it was beneath Sanders’ dignity to raise such doubts about her:
“Which really comes down to: Anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought. And I just absolutely reject that, senator. And I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough.
If you’ve got something to say, say it directly. But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received. … I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks.”
Sanders responded by arguing that corporate money and lobbying exert influence over elected officials.
“Let’s talk about why in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions? Well, some people might think, some people might think, Yeah, that may have some influence. There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. In my view, it is undermining American democracy, and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.”
Clinton has struggled to address her speaking fees in the past, including during a town-hall event on Wednesday night, in which CNN’s Anderson Cooper pressed her about a $675,000. fee she received from the investment bank Goldman Sachs.
This issue will not go away for Clinton and is a liability for her in the primary battle with Sanders.