Sunday’s Democratic Party presidential primary debate was promised as a long-awaited bare knuckle brawl between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and it didn’t disappoint.
While both White House hopefuls – and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley – have near-identical economic positions, squabbles have broken out between the Clinton and Sanders camps over gun control and the future of Obamacare.
Hours before the debate, the last one before the upcoming Iowa Caucuses, Sanders released a health care proposal that generated instant controversy because of tax-increase proposals buried in it – despite his earlier pledge not to tax middle-class Americans to pay for it.
Clinton twisted the knife Sunday night, saying she would ‘build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it’ by putting private insurance ‘on a more stable platform that doesn’t take too much money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans.’
Sanders described health care ‘for every man, woman and child as a right.’
But he insisted he wouldn’t ‘tear up’ Obamacare, as Clinton claimed he would.
‘Were not gonna tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it,’ the Vermont senator said. ‘But we care going to move on top of that to a Medicare-for-all system.’
The $13.8 trillion plan, paid for with taxes on high income earners, fulfilled the senator’s promise that as president, he’d make health insurance a ‘right’ for all Americans.
Clinton, who tried and failed in the 1990s to pass her own universal health care plan as first lady, declared at the debate, ‘to start over again with a whole new debate is something that I think would set us back.’
O’Malley didn’t address Obamacare, still struggling to generate basic name recognition across the country.
‘My name is Martin O’Malley,’ he began his opening statement, although his campaign is nearly eight months old.
In polling released by NBC News just hours before debate time, Clinton led Sanders by 25 percentage points nationally.
But a recent New York Times/CBS News poll put that margin at just 7 points.
And in Iowa, the crucial first caucus state, Clinton is up just 4 points in an average maintained by Real Clear Politics.
Sanders actually has overtaken Clinton in New Hampshire, the second state to pick Democratic National Convention delegates, by more than 6 points on average.
Clinton continued hammering Sanders, a senator from a rural hunting state, for past Senate votes that she said were out of step with progressives.
‘He has voted with the NRA, with the gun lobby, numerous times,’ she claimed, including ‘what we call the Charleston loophole.’
Read more: Daily Mail