From Las Vegas, Nevada
Democrats used their first debate in the race for President to air a series of internal differences on guns, the use of American military power overseas and financial regulations on Wall Street, as Hillary Clinton aggressively took on Bernie Sanders in the first in person skirmish of the top Democratic contenders.
Clinton jumped at the first opportunity in the debate to attack Sanders when the subject of gun control was raised by CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper.
“Is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?” Cooper asked.
“No, not at all,” said Clinton, as she went after Sanders for opposing the Brady handgun law and more on gun violence.
“This has gone on too long, and it’s time the entire country stood up to the NRA,” Clinton said to applause.
Sanders tried to parry Clinton’s attacks by noting his D-minus rating from the NRA, but admitted being a Senator in Vermont takes him down a different path on the Second Amendment.
“The views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not,” said Sanders.
Sanders and other Democrats at one point actually rallied to Clinton’s defense when the subject of her emails as Secretary of State was raised.
“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who argued there are more important issues that should be dealt with in this campaign.
“Enough of the emails; let’s talk about the real issues facing America,” Sanders declared, drawing sustained applause from the debate audience.
“What I did was allowed by the State Department, but it wasn’t the best choice,” Clinton said of her private email server, as she again acknowledged her use was “a mistake.”
But Clinton swiftly pivoted on the issue, accusing Republicans of engaging in blatant political attacks against her by setting up a special panel on the Benghazi attacks.
“This committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee,” Clinton added.
The debate did not seem to provide a breakthrough moment for Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb or Lincoln Chafee, as Clinton and Sanders were the dominant players, just as the polls have shown.