MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley meet for the third time Saturday night in a debate that could contain more fireworks than anticipated following a dispute between Sanders and the Democratic National Committee over the party’s voter database, after some of the Vermont senator’s staffers accessed Clinton’s voter data.
The debate, held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., is hosted by ABC and the New Hampshire Union Leader. David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News are the moderators.
Follow along here for all the latest updates; all times are Eastern.
The topic is the heroine epidemic.
Sanders says we have to tell the medical profession “they’ve got to their acts together” in terms of flooding the market with opiates, which lead to heroin addiction. He also cited the need for increased access to treatments for the addicted. Clinton uses the opportunity to cite her personal interactions with families who’ve lost a loved one from overdose. She cites a plan for $10 billion in federal spending over 10 years to work with states. She also cites the need for more facilities and that police should carry with them the antidote to heroin overdose. O’Malley says the investment should be $12 billion. “That very time they show up with a near miss” at the hospital, “we should be intervening.”
How to bridge the divide between law enforcement and minority communities that they are supposed to protect? The FBI director has said a backlash against all law enforcement has created a “chill wind” going through law enforcement.
“We have systemic racism and injustice and inequities” that “must be addressed,” says Clinton. Trust has been lost between law enforcement and the communities they are supposed to protect. Yet some officers are bridging the divide on their own. We need a bipartisan commitment to work together and “hear the voices” of Americans who’ve been harmed.
“It’s possible to improve how we police the police,” says O’Malley, citing what he enacted in Maryland.Sanders and O’Malley cite drug treatment and sentencing reform. Sanders also cites community policing. “We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve” and to end minimal sentencing, invest in jobs and education and not more jails.
The topic is taxes.
Clinton vows not to raise taxes on the middle class, or families earning $250,000 or less. Sanders says Clinton’s pledge is tantamount to disagreeing with Lyndon Johnson on Medicare and Franklin Roosevelt on Social Security, in addition to measure like paid family and medical leave. “I have a way that actually makes the wealthiest pay for it,” says Clinton.
The cost of college is the issue.
Sanders is asked why his plan for tuition-free college isn’t just shifting the costs to the American people through the form of higher taxes.
Sanders says hundreds of thousands of bring young people cannot go to college because their families can’t afford it. He cites a speculation tax on Wall Street to raise “substantial amounts of money.” We need “radical changes” in the area of college education because all people should be able to get it.
“This one falls under the category of ‘I’ve already done this,’” says O’Malley, who calls for more money into Pell Grants. He cites a block grant program for the states and an income-based program for students. He cites his own student loan debt burden from the education of his children, which they’ll pay for the rest of their lives. He says Clinton has borrowed his proposals.
Clinton calls her plan “the new college compact.” The federal government will match money the states put back into the system. She says she doesn’t believe in free college for everyone, and that the focus should be working class and poor children. She has proposed debt-free tuition for those students.
Clinton also takes a swing at Sanders for proposing debt-free college and a single-payer health care system. “We’ve got to be really thoughtful about how we’re going to afford what we propose,” she says. Sanders says the middle class will pay substantially less because we would be doing away with private insurance.
Health care is the topic
How would you fix Obamacare?
Clinton says she’d build on its successes and “fix some of the glitches.” Out-of-pocket costs and prescription drug costs have gone up too much. She wants Medicare to be able to negotiate just like those companies negotiate with other country’s health systems. Make sure the health exchanges are “properly regulated so we are not being gamed.” We don’t have enough competition and oversight of insurance companies and what they’re charging, she says.
Sanders, who is calling for a single-payer system, is asked how much people will be expected to pay. He calls Obamacare “a step forward.” Even so, 29 million Americans still have no health insurance and millions still can’t afford to go to the doctor. We also spend three times more per capita than what Britons pay. He says the insurance and drug companies “are bribing” the Congress. He says the average middle-class family will save thousands of dollars, without answering the question.
How do you raise incomes for middle-income families?
Sanders goes first. First, tell the wealthy their taxes are going up to “pay their fair share,” then raise the minimum wage, pass pay equity laws for women, put a tax on Wall Street speculation and make sure universities are tuition free. O’Malley cites his record in Maryland, including raising the minimum wage. He cites job creation from supporting the renewable energy industry, including solar. He cites universal national service to help cut youth employment.
Clinton weighs in by sounding like a general election candidate. She says economic mobility is an issue that unites Democrats, while none of the Republicans will raise the minimum wage or support policies to increase the incomes of middle-class Americans, citing similar issues including college affordability and the minimum wage. “This is the kind of debate we need to take to the Republicans in the fall.”
She’s asked in a follow-up question if corporate American should love her. “Everybody should,” she says. She outlines her populist agenda before saying, essentially, that business leaders aren’t always the bad guys. Buffet rule including 30% tax rates on billionaires, “But I also want to create jobs and I want to be a partner with the private sector.” Sanders is asked the same question, if corporate America will like him. “Nope they won’t,” he says, before launching into his of Wall Street and call for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall laws breaking up big banks. The greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy” and millions of lives. “I will fight and lead,” says Sanders.
O’Malley hits Clinton for comments in the last debate, held in Iowa, on the issue of her closeness to Wall Street. “She tried to hide her cozy relationship” with Wall Street by citing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said O’Malley, and she still won’t support breaking up the big banks. Clinton hits back: O’Malley “had no trouble” going to Wall Street for financial handouts when he headed the Democratic Governors Association.
On fighting Assad and ISIS:
Sanders and Clinton clash over Middle East policy. “Our differences are fairly deep on this issue,” says Sanders. She listened to Bush and Cheney and voted for the Iraq War and is “too much into regime change” and “too aggressive” without appreciating the consequences of what happens afterwards. “Getting rid of dictators is easy,” but you have to think about “what happens the day after.”
Clinton says Sanders voted for regime change in Libya and to get rid of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. If we had not joined with Europeans “you would be looking at Syria.”
The two clash over whether the priority should be ousting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad or destroying ISIS. Clinton says they need to focus on both and Sanders says that’s flawed. “The major priority right now,” says Sanders, “should be destroying ISIS.” O’Malley agrees with Assad that ISIS should be the priority. “We shouldn’t be the ones declaring that Assad must go,” said O’Malley. He derides a policy of “traveling the world looking for new monsters to destroy.”
Clinton says the reason “we’re in the mess we’re in” is because of Assad. “When we look at these complex problems I wish it could be either or,” she says, but leaving Assad in power helps create more terrorists “by the minute.” She says the world is behind us for a political solution but “we have to lead.”
Sanders is asked why he won’t support combat troops in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. can’t be policemen of the world, he says. There has to be a well-coordinated effort. “This is a war for the soul of Islam” and the troops on the ground should be Muslim, he says. Saudi Arabia and Qatar “have to step up to the plate,” said Sanders.
Clinton is asked whether she’s “fooling Americans” by saying we won’t send in combat troops. She says no, that’s exactly what ISIS wants to give them more targets and recruiting opportunities. “It’s absolutely the wrong policy” to imagine putting in tens of thousands of troops. She takes a dig at Trump for using rhetoric that alienates moderate Muslim allies needed to create a robust ground force.
Asked a follow-up question, Clinton again pushes back against the notion that the U.S. will wind up sending large numbers of U.S. troops to the region. If we put together a bigger coalition “I think we can be successful.”
O’Malley returns to his criticism that we’ve under invested in intelligence on the ground in the region and in diplomatic intelligence about leaders in the region.
Clinton is asked what she thinks of halting Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S. It’s something that New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, supports.
“I don’t think a halt is necessary,” Clinton says. The U.S. should have a very tough screening process. “We don’t want to make it seem we are turning into a nation of fear,” said Clinton. After 18 months or so, we should prioritize those who have families here or who are mothers with small children, she said. That might soothe Americans who are uneasy about the idea. O’Malley is unequivocal against pausing immigration of refugees. “There is a pretty excruciating process” that they already go through. The victims are suffering genocide and brutality and we need to “act like the great country we are.”
Would you create a law forcing tech executives to break into encrypted material to subvert terrorism plots?
Clinton does not agree that there should be a law. “I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts,” she said. “I would hope” they would work with law enforcement, which “needs the tools to keep us safe.”
O’Malley says the federal government should have to get warrants but the people creating these products “have an obligation” to work with law enforcement.
What do you say to those supporting Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims?
Clinton praises former President George W. Bush for reaching out to the Muslim community after 9/11. She says terrorists are using Trump’s words for recruitment. “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump” to recruit more radical Muslims, says Clinton.
Sanders says Trump is pulling the wool over the eyes of Americans by spewing hate about minority groups including Latinos and Muslims. Meantime he’s supporting policies that hurt average Americans. He thinks “low wages are a good idea.”
Responding to polls showing more Americans support purchasing guns to respond to the threat of terrorism, Clinton says it needs to be looked at as a “separate issue” from terrorism and accuses Republicans of fanning the flames of hate. Sanders says the vast majority of Americans support sensible gun safety measures, such as strengthening the instant background check system. O’Malley comes out swinging, saying Sanders voted against the 1993 Brady bill, for granting immunity for gun dealers. He then says Clinton “changes her positon on this issue every election year it seems.” He says he’s the only candidate who’s actually passed gun safety laws, as former governor of Maryland.
Sanders tells O’Malley to “calm down” and Clinton asks him to “tell the truth.” Sanders punches back and says “do not tell me that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people,” banning to ban assault weapons and for instant background checks. Clinton says O’Malley is misrepresenting her position. She supported the Brady bill and voted against giving gun dealers immunity, for instance. She calls on Sanders to sponsor legislation to remove the so-called Charleston loophole that allows people to purchase guns without a background check if the government hasn’t completed them in three days.
Clinton outlines her ISIS strategy, including an American led air campaign, go after everything from North Africa to South Asia. At home, we have to do a better job of sharing intelligence and information, including from the Internet, she says. We have to work more closely with technology companies. We must also work more closely with Muslim communities. “They will be our early warning signal,” she said. We must work with them and “not demonize them,” like the Republicans are doing.
O’Malley highlights a lack of a robust counter terrorism strategy over the past 15 years. “The president had us on the right track,” but we need to increase the “battle tempo.”
Sanders highlights his vote against the war in Iraq and says he does not believe in unilateral American action. He says King Abdullah II of Jordan should be recognized as “one of the heroes” of the Middle East.
Clinton highlights the need to keep families safe and help the economy grow, not just for those at the top. She highlights her strategy to combat ISIS without another ground war. She says there’s a “distinct difference” between all of the Democrats and the Republicans, who would repeal the Affordable Care Act and give more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. Despite their “tough talk” they’d continue to let those on the no-fly terrorism watch list to buy guns, says Clinton.
O’Malley said tonight’s debate is different because of the terror attack in San Bernardino. He said he visited a mosque last week and say veterans, Boy Scouts and moms and dads. He said, in addition to terrorism, a major danger is “unscrupulous leaders” who “try to turn us against each other.” He says we must maintain our values against terrorists and “fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths,” in an obvious slam against Republican Donald Trump.
Sanders highlights his stump theme of income inequality, before hitting other issues include transitioning from fossil fuel to sustainable energy and a new foreign policy that takes on and destroys ISIS but doesn’t get us “involved in perpetual warfare” in the quagmire in the Middle East. We need a coalition that supports Muslim ground troops in the Middle East.
The data breach of Clinton’s campaign data is the first question.
Sanders says there was a breach because the DNC vendor screwed up and information came to our campaign. “Our staff did the wrong thing, they looked at that information.” That person has been fired and they’re doing an internal investigation. But the DNC arbitrarily “shut off our access” to their own information. He called it “egregious.” He calls for an independent investigation into all data breaches as it’s unclear whether her campaign also had access to his campaign’s information. “It has become many press releases from the Clinton campaign.” He immediately agreed with the moderators’ suggestion that Clinton is owed an apology.
Clinton thanks him for the apology and says now that there’s an independent inquiry “we should move on.”
The candidates take the stage.
Dem debate still at least 10 minutes away, getting off to a late start.
Test one, two three, the debate begins in 15 minutes!