"I do question her judgment," Bernie Sanders said of Hillary Clinton's qualifications for the presidency
With just five days to go until the critical New York primary on Tuesday, Clinton and Sanders hit each other hard on both political and personal fronts.
Right off the bat, Sanders was asked about his previous comments that Clinton is not qualified to be president. “I do question her judgment,” he said. “I question her judgment, which voted for the war in Iraq voted for virtually every disastrous trade agreement and I question her judgment about wanting super PACs.”
Clinton laughed off Sanders’ comments and fired back, “Now that the spotlight is pretty bright here in New York, some things have been said. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life – that was a first.”
“The people of New York voted for me twice to be their senator from New York and President Obama trusted my judgment enough to name me secretary of state,” she added.
Clinton then urged viewers to look up Sanders’ much-maligned interview with the New York Daily News, faulting the Vermont senator for failing to explain how he plans to break up the big banks. “Talk about judgment and talk about the kinds of difficulty he had answering questions, including his core issues,” she said.
“Let’s talk about judgment and let’s talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” Sanders shot back, drawing roars from his supporters.
“This is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama,” Clinton responded, drawing the first – but certainly not the last – boos of the night from a rowdy crowd. “President Obama had a super PAC when he ran and President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank.”
She continued, “This is a phony attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support to undergird the insinuations he is putting forth in these attacks.”
The candidates’ exchanges got more and more heated as the night went on, escalating when they were asked about raising the minimum wage.
Moderator Wolf Blitzer began by asking Clinton, “As president, if a Democratic congress put a $15 minimum wage bill on your desk, would you sign it?”
“Of course I would. And I have supported the fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for 15,” she responded.
Before the former secretary of state could explain her plan to raise the minimum wage, Sanders interjected, “I am sure a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.”
The two continued to argue until finally Blitzer said, “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you, so please don’t talk over each other.”
The candidates also clashed on the topic of gun regulations after Blitzer asked Clinton about her recent claim that Vermont has the highest per-capita number of guns that end up being used in crimes in New York.
“Are you seriously blaming Vermont, and implicitly Senator Sanders, for New York’s gun violence?” Blitzer asked Clinton.
“No, of course not,” she responded. “This is a serious difference between us.”
When Sanders chuckled at this remark, Clinton scolded him, saying, “It’s not a laughing matter … I take it really seriously because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones.”
CNN moderators Blitzer and Dana Bash showed the candidates no mercy Thursday night, with Bash pointedly asking Clinton why she refuses to release her transcripts of Wall Street speeches if, as she says, there’s nothing in them that’s objectionable.
“I did stand up to the banks, I did make it clear that their behavior would be excused,” Clinton replied. “I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives.”
Bash didn’t let her off the hook, pressing her to answer the question directly.
“There are certain expectations when you run for president and this is a new one. When everyone agrees to do it … there is a long-standing expectation that everyone running release their tax returns … and I think every candidate including Sen. Sanders and Donald Trump should do the same,” Clinton said to boos from the crowd.
“Set the same standard on tax returns,” she added. “Everybody does it – and then we move forward.”
Sanders, who has come under pressure to release his tax returns, promised to share his 2014 tax returns on Friday. Asked why he won’t release his returns from previous years as well, Sanders said, “We’ll get the rest out shortly.”
“Jane does our taxes. We have been a little bit busy,” he said of his wife.