By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Sen. Bernie Sanders performance in the Brooklyn Democratic debate with Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Thursday moved him closer to winning more delegates in the New York primary. But some political observers saidthe question of whether he can put a dent into Clinton’s lead in Tuesday’s primary is open for discussion.
Sanders, who began the 90-minute debate in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard on Thursday, was the only Democratic challenger left to contend with the formidable presidential front runner, who rests heavily on her husband’s brand loyalty.
In his fiery attacks against Clinton’s promises on the presidential campaign, he pledged bold and progressive goals for America, while responding to questions about Clinton’s qualification and credibility to be president.
“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does,” said Sanders, who has known Clinton for 25 years.
Sanders also made note of his trajectory from the beginning of his campaign almost a year ago, saying he was at 3 percent in the polls and about 70 points behind Clinton. Now, one day before the New York primary, Sanders is ahead in at least two polls. Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, Sanders won eight.
“The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical: We’re telling the American people the truth,” Sanders said after sustained applause. “And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. And unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections.”
Sanders also said that if he were elected, he would tackle a rigged economy that prefers the 1 percent before he questioned Clinton’s relationship with Super PACs, which he said are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street.
Former President Bill Clinton’s influence on the electorate gave his wife a commanding lead with votes and delegates before what can be billed as the most contentious debate since last spring.
Clinton articulated her platform on big banks, gun control and minimum wages with confidence against the Vermont Senator Sanders. Clinton also fended off criticism about her ties to Wall Street, her taxes and her speeches at Goldman Sachs. She said when others release transcripts of their speeches, she will release hers.
Responding to questions about her qualification and judgment to be president, Clinton said:
Clinton also outlined her plan to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $12, while Sanders firmly pledged to raise it to $15 if they were elected president.
Both candidates seemingly have the same vision with nuances on how to reach their goals. However, the former New York senator has a double digit lead in New York.
But Sanders “has the message and the plan that lifts all of us and speak more to people of color and the poor,” said Former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner.
New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz (Bronx–D) countered that sentiment, saying: “Hilary has a track record on all the issues that speak for us. Unfortunately, what Bernie does is talk about the issues, not solutions.”
Just five days before New York’s primary, Thursday’s debate was likely Sanders’ only remaining opportunity to cut into Clinton’s growing lead in the Empire State.
When asked by CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer whether he owed the Sandy Hook families an apology, Sanders didn’t hesitate with a response.
“No, I don’t think I owe them an apology,” he said.
The exchange came just hours after a ruling by a Connecticut judge not to dismiss a lawsuit by families of the Newtown massacre victims.
Former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Ben Jealous said he will vote for Sanders because Clinton is not a political friend to black people.
“Hilary Clinton is not a political friend because she helped to champion lifetime limit on welfare. Since her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill, we have twice as many people living on welfare,” Jealous said. ” She will be carrying on the agenda of her husband rather than Obama. Also, her relationship with Wall Street is complex at best.”
Gov. Andrew Cumo said Clinton will win.
“Her advantage here is New Yorkers know her. She was a New York Senator for many years. They watched her. She delivered,” Cumo said. “She has produced for this state and New Yorkers know that. She delivered for new York. I think New York will deliver for her.”
The latest RealClearPolitics average of polling in New York shows Clinton leading Sanders 53%-39% in the state.
Currently, Clinton has 1,758 delegates to Sanders’ 1,069, including superdelegates. New York’s 291 delegates will be allocated proportionally, based on the election results.