Clinton’s once arch-rival from 2008, President Barack Obama has gone on to become one of her closest colleagues to embrace her 2016 campaign, and she made that visible not just throughout her campaign, but in the 4th Democratic debate. The debate displayed a very small field of the three Democratic candidates as opposed to the Republican presidential field. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley all took the stage not long after their town hall to have a spirited debate on the issues, something they acknowledge when comparing their debates to the Republican debates that have been dominated by insults from Trump, particularly towards Jeb.
One of the big topics of the debate was over gun control. Clinton and Sanders had a heated argument over who’s more progressive when it comes to gun legislation. In 2005 Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders voted on legislation to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits in the event of their guns being used to commit violent crimes and Clinton did not back down from attempting to expose him for his vote. Sanders managed to push back by reminding the audience of his D- rating from the NRA.
When it comes to healthcare, Sanders is advocating for a single payer system. Clinton’s criticism of the plan describes that taking this route would force us all to start over and that instead we should be building upon the progress we have made under the Affordable Care Act. Sanders responded by pointing out that 29 million Americans are still uninsured so therefore we need to get private insurance out of health insurance and lower the cost of healthcare for middle-class family by $5000. Clinton afterwards raised questions on how such a bill that includes his other proposals can be funded.
Like in previous debates, Clinton was once again attacked for her ties to Wall Street. Sanders definitely made his case in contrasting the funding between the two campaigns, showcasing that her donors include big banks such as Goldman Sachs while his campaign is being funded through a grassroots movement. Clinton fired back by arguing that just because a candidate receives funding from a company that it does not automatically mean that they are bought from that company and reassured the voters about her promise to crack down on Wall Street using regulation.
O’Malley once again failed to grab the attention and momentum he very desperately needed in order to keep his campaign afloat. With far less talking time than Sanders and Clinton, it was not a good night at all for O’Malley. The aftermath of the debate showed the poll numbers of both Clinton and Sanders leaving him in the dust. Even if Biden were to jump into the race last minute, there’s a good chance that Biden would automatically poll ahead of O’Malley.
Despite O’Malley’s presence, the debate was no question a showdown between the two Democratic frontrunners, Clinton and Sanders. The debate came down to Clinton embracing and building upon the accomplishments of the Obama administration, whereas Sanders is advocating behind starting a political revolution and supporting policies that include free college, a $15 minimum wage, and a breaking up of the big banks compared to Clinton’s proposal of reduced tuition for college, a $12 minimum wage, and increased regulation of Wall Street. The challenge for Clinton ahead, who Sanders is catching up to in the polls, is whether she can get to the millennials advocating behind the campaign of Bernie Sanders and ultimately win them over.