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Live Blog: Bernie Sanders Wins Democrats’ 8th Debate as Hillary Clinton Remains Prisoner of Caution

Posted on Mar 9, 2016

    Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced off in Miami in the eighth Democratic debate. (CNN)

8:12 p.m. PST: Some people call CNN the Clinton News Network. For good reason. The debate has been over for more than 10 minutes and nine minutes of the analysis has been about Clinton. That’s the way mainstream news coverage will go for the rest of the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate. Bernie Sanders is the anti-establishment candidate. Buckle up: The ride is going to get bumpy if the American people continue to go against the mainstream media, as they did in Michigan.

8:01 p.m. PST: From Truthdig’s Bill Boyarsky:

Sanders makes a great point about vulture capitalists making many bucks off of Puerto Rico’s huge debt. This is a little noticed aspect of Wall Street exploiting the poor. This followed his ringing opposition to the United States invoking the Monroe Doctrine, trying to overthrow Latin American governments too left wing for Washington’s tastes. Both Sanders and Clinton favored the Obama administration’s Cuban initiative, but Sanders put it into a historic perspective, recalling the Reagan and Nixon days of promoting right-wing revolutions. He recalled, for example, Allende. If you want to extrapolate, this means a Sanders administration would break sharply from the past, less cautious, less respectful of the foreign policy establishment than Clinton. As they move into their closing statements, I thought it was a good debate. Sanders continued to press against economic injustice strongly, Clinton remained a prisoner of her caution. It was Sanders who spoke most clearly and strongly to the troubles that afflict our country. Fresh from his Michigan victory, he spoke strongly and confidently, in good shape for the next Midwestern contests.

8:00 p.m. PST: The audience is yelling for Bernie. Some are yelling for Hillary. It was a boisterous audience in Miami.

7:58 p.m. PST: Now, it’s time for the pundits. First impressions from CNN: Clinton took punches from Sanders and the moderators. Sanders didn’t respond well to the video about Cuba. Sanders had a swagger coming off the Michigan primary win. Sanders was specific about how he would help Hispanics; Clinton was broader. Sanders used sarcastic humor against Clinton. If her speeches were so great, wouldn’t you want us all to read them? You must be under the influence of corporations and Wall Street if you are unwilling to be transparent.

They don’t like each other. Clinton seemed annoyed much of the night. She did not think Sanders still would be in this race. She is surprised he is able to raise so much money online with so much ease.

Clinton doesn’t understand why so many Democrats don’t trust her. In so many words, she is saying, “Why don’t people like me? I have feelings.” She wants people to know she is doing the best she can. Her time in politics has hardened her. She doesn’t know the difference between a tough question and an attack. She has strengths as a political leader and is intelligent, but she doesn’t have a visceral political sense. She is a workhorse, not a show horse. Saying she is not a natural politician is Clinton’s way of saying she is authentic. Sanders is authentic. With the Vermont senator, what you see is what you get.

Time will tell which approach resonates most with the American people.

7:57 p.m. PST: It was a lively debate. The moderators remind everyone, especially Latinos, to get out and vote. Who does not vote doesn’t count. Don’t let others decide for you.

7:54 p.m. PST: Closing thoughts:

Clinton: Break down barriers. Create jobs. Raise incomes. Take on education barriers. Take on health care barriers. We will find common ground. I will stand my ground. Give me your support on Tuesday.

Sanders: Wonderful debate. Limited time. Important issues have not been raised. Is it acceptable that one-tenth of Americans control wealth? Is it acceptable for billionaires to buy elections? Is that democracy or oligarchy? Is it right that young people cannot afford to go to college or leave college without debt? We can do better. That is why I am running for president.

He gets a standing ovation.

7:42 p.m. PST: Welcome to Miami. Latin America is the focus. CNN plays a 1985 clip of Sanders speaking about Cuba, Fidel Castro and a “revolution of values.” Sanders explains he did not mean that he supported authoritarianism. He says it is not the United States’ job to be overthrowing small countries around the world. Clinton senses an opportunity and pounces: “That is not the type of revolutionary values I support,” she says.

7:35 p.m. PST: From Truthdig’s Bill Boyarsky:

A question on high unemployment and low pay among Latinos—“they are considered an afterthought”—showed what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton as a candidate. She worked her way through infrastructure spending, [punishing] companies who send jobs overseas, [improving] conditions for manufacturing companies, all very general ideas that didn’t really answer the question. She gets lost in programs. Sanders was a little better, raising the minimum wage, Medicare for all, stuff like that. But he lapsed into his customary speech. Neither of them really got to the heart of high unemployment and low pay among Latinos. We have an economy of a growing number of low-paid jobs, and Latinos work at them. We have an educational system that does not teach Latino kids who come from homes where the parents don’t speak English and work long hours at low-cost jobs. We have cities and rural areas throughout the country where unions don’t exist. These are just some of the points that have not been covered in the first hour and a half of the debate.

7:31 p.m. PST: Clinton keeps speaking after Sanders is given the microphone. Like the Energizer Bunny, she keeps going and going. After around 30 seconds, Sanders gets the opportunity to talk, and moderator Jorge Ramos tells him, “This is your debate.” The journalist meant to say “time,” but the subliminal message is clear. Sometimes, the more one says, the less it means.

7:28 p.m. PST: Revolution is in the house. Asked how to solve the problem of climate change, Sanders says, “We need a political revolution.”

7:25 p.m. PST: Important point in this debate: The issue is health care. Both Democratic candidates support universal health care. Clinton says we are 90 percent there with the Affordable Care Act. Sanders disagrees. Do 90 percent of Americans have insurance? Not if they have outrageously high deductibles and co-pays. People cannot afford their pills. Sanders is for a single-payer plan. Clinton wants to make the Affordable Care Act work.

7:17 p.m. PST: Sanders channels Larry David and reminds us that we have yuuuge problems in America. Raise the minimum wage. Provide universal health care. Rebuild crumbling infrastructure. Create 13 million jobs. He gets a huge round of applause.

7:12 p.m. PST: Career politician versus establishment politician. Why should we trust Sanders? Look at his record, he says. He supports the environment, workers, seniors. He doesn’t take money from the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry. Yes, he is a career politician, and no politician is a perfect presidential candidate. But his record has fewer holes than most career politicians.

7:08 p.m. PST: Bill Boyarsky, Truthdig political correspondent and former Los Angeles Times city editor, will be providing analysis for us throughout our live blog. Here are his thoughts on the responses from each candidate regarding the immigration issue:

Hillary Clinton tried to make Bernie Sanders a collaborationist with the self-appointed Minutemen who “patrolled” the border, but he refuted that. He correctly blasted Clinton and the Obama administration for their support of massive deportation of immigrants. That happened and is happening. I interviewed children who had escaped their violent home countries in Central America and made it to the United States, and still lived in fear. The administration’s reluctance to save these children was ugly, and Sanders correctly called Clinton on it. That is what happened in the last couple of years. In the end, both agreed on the need for a reform of immigration laws. Both agreed that the deportation of children should stop, as should the deportation of families who have not committed crimes. But Clinton’s trying to link Sanders with the Minutemen was despicable.

7:02 p.m. PST: No softball questions from Ramos. He asks Clinton about Benghazi—did she say one thing in public and one thing in private? She cites her 11-hour testimony before a GOP-led House committee.

Sanders cites The New York Times investigation that both called Hillary a hawk and reported how Clinton helped turn Libya into a “terrorist haven” for Islamic State.

6:57 p.m. PST: We have touched a nerve. Clinton basically called out Wall Street. Her words, not ours. This is her response to Sanders’ call to release the transcripts for her talks to Goldman Sachs. Weak.

Sanders points out that Clinton has received $15 million from Wall Street companies. He continues to call for reform of a corrupt campaign financing system. Citizens United has got to go.

Clinton counters with a low blow, putting Sanders’ name in the same sentence with the Koch brothers.

“Nobody has taken on the Koch brothers more than Bernie Sanders,” Sanders says.

6:52 p.m. PST: If it looks like a duck and quacks like duck, chances are it’s a duck. A majority of people in the United States find Clinton to be untrustworthy. She says she is not a natural politician like her husband or President Obama. She could have fooled us.

6:50 p.m. PST:: A woman in the audience whose husband was deported shares her story and asks a question in Spanish that is translated into English: What is your plan to reunite families and thousands of children and U.S. citizens with their children? Both Sanders and Clinton say they will do all they can to unite families.

6:47 p.m. PST: Sanders and Clinton can agree on one thing: Unlike Donald Trump, they will not resort to racism, xenophobia and bigotry to solve the immigration problem.

6:46 p.m. PST: Clinton channels Kate McKinnon and draws some laughs when asked how the wall she proposes to build is different from the wall Trump proposes to build. His wall is bigger than mine, she says. His wall is more beautiful than mine. Clinton is proposing sensible border enforcement. This is the biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans want to deport 100 percent. Democrats want to deport zero percent.

6:41 p.m. PST: For the second time in the debate, Clinton says Sanders supported the Minutemen militia group—a false statement, and Sanders calls her out on it. He explains that Clinton magnifies small aspects of large pieces of legislation and takes things out of context.

Sanders makes clear that he didn’t support the auto bailout.

Sanders makes clear that he doesn’t support vigilantes.

Sanders closes his point with a strong metaphorical left hook to Clinton: “Madam Secretary, I will match my record against yours any day of the week.”

6:34 p.m. PST: Clinton cannot give a yes-or-no answer to Ramos’ question about whether she will follow in Obama’s footsteps and be the deporter in chief. She waffles. When pressed, she says she will not deport children or those without a criminal record, with a caveat: Granting asylum is a process.

Sanders doesn’t let her get away with the evasive answer. He promises that he won’t deport children or immigrants without a criminal record.

6:33 p.m. PST: What are people talking about on Facebook? For women, the top three issues are the economy, religion and abortion. For men, the top issues are government ethics, racial problems and the economy.

6:28 p.m. PST: The adults are talking. This debate makes the GOP debate look like “Romper Room.” Even when Sanders and Clinton disagree, or when one makes a point the other disagrees with, they express their disagreement in a civilized way. Sanders doesn’t need to play dirty because the truth is a powerful force. But Clinton might have to resort to dirty tactics.

6:19 p.m. PST: Many people think Sanders is more electable than Clinton in a head-to-head general race with Trump. The reason is that Sanders could inspire millions more people—old and new voters—to vote in November. 

6:17 p.m. PST: Is Donald Trump a racist? People can make their own conclusions. Good line from Clinton: You don’t make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great.

Sanders has a better line: America is never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, Muslims and anyone else.

6:16 p.m. PST: The email elephant in the room appears. Clinton would prefer to talk about something else.

6:13 p.m. PST: Ramos discloses that his daughter works for Clinton’s communications team, as he always does.

6:13 p.m. PST: Sanders has started strong.

6:12 p.m. PST: What went wrong in Michigan? Clinton sidesteps the question the first time by saying, with halfhearted enthusiasm, that she is a progressive. She has a hard time convincing herself she’s a progressive. The second time she is pressed on what went wrong in Michigan, she gives a political answer: We win, we lose, we’ll keep battling. She doesn’t want to admit that many more people are standing up for Sanders than anyone projected. 

6:08 p.m. PST: Opening thoughts.

Clinton wants to knock down barriers. She wants a positive agenda for manufacturing, entrepreneurship, education and immigration.

Sanders says it’s too late for establishment politics. Billionaires should not be buying elections. No more long hours for low wages. Path toward citizenship. We have to combat climate change. Transform the energy system. Leave the planet healthy and habitable for our children.

They both hit their talking points.

6:02 p.m. PST: Clinton and Sanders are introduced. We don’t have an official audible reading, but the Sanders ovation sounds bigger.

6:01 p.m. PST: Nice to see bilingual coverage—in English and Spanish—on CNN. Expect to see more on English television in the future. Half of the Latino eligible voters are millennials.

6:00 p.m. PST: Time for the main event. Who you got?

5:58 p.m. PST: So far, the Democratic candidates have shown discipline in avoiding personal attacks, compared with the Republicans. We will see if that continues.

5:55 p.m. PST: Five minutes until game time, and the Sanders camp is fired up. Earlier in the day, Sanders released a statement on Reader Supported News.

By the time the polls closed in Michigan last night, the corporate media had written us off. The political establishment was trying to get us out of the race, and the Clinton campaign was eager to “wrap up” the primary as soon as possible.

But the people of Michigan had other ideas. Last night our political revolution scored “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history,” and we’re seeing the same kind of come-from-behind momentum all across America.

Next Tuesday is the most important night for our campaign to date. Five large states vote, and we have all the momentum. And what we’ve shown is that when we come together, we have what it takes to overcome what was once thought to be an inevitable campaign.

The financial and political elite of this country are going to throw everything they have at us this week. The stakes are too high for them. I need your continued support if we’re going to be able to fight back and win.

This is going to be a long, hard fight. And we’ve only done as well as we have because millions of people have come together to say they’ve had ENOUGH of the billionaire class buying elections in this country.

If we continue to fight, and if you continue to contribute, we are going to win.

In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

How will Clinton respond in the debate?

1:40 p.m. PST: The Michigan primary win gives the Sanders campaign momentum. Here’s what people are saying about the result, which Nate Silver called “one of the greatest primary polling errors in history.”

From Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight:

The question I am asking myself now is whether this means the polls are off in other Midwestern states that are holding open primaries. I’m talking specifically about Illinois and Ohio, both of which vote next Tuesday. The FiveThirtyEight polling average in Illinois gives Clinton a 37 percentage point lead, while the average in Ohio gives her a 20 percentage point lead. If Michigan was just a fluke (which is possible), then tonight will be forgotten soon enough. If, however, pollsters are missing something more fundamental about the electorate, then the Ohio and Illinois primaries could be a lot closer than expected.

From Scott Galindez of Reader Supported News:

Sanders must now win about 56% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. It won’t be easy, but his campaign team stresses that the path ahead includes more states that play to his strengths.

The spin continues, we watch reporters on CNN and other networks making excuses for the Clinton campaign. It’s almost as if CNN is the Clinton News Network. Bernie’s win should change the narrative, but don’t be surprised if the pro-Clinton spin continues.

The lesson the media should take from tonight’s results is to let the people’s vote determine the winner. On to Ohio, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina.

From Jim Manley of The Wall Street Journal:

But I’d say the fact that Mr. Sanders did so well among African-American voters is the most striking takeaway. A lot has been said about how Mr. Sanders is an older white man from a heavily white Northeast state. African-Americans have largely been expected to favor Mrs. Clinton and helped deliver her strong win in Mississippi on Tuesday and in other states earlier. In Michigan, Mr. Sanders won his largest share of the African-American vote in the states contested so far, and the numbers suggest that he is able to do well in more states than many had imagined (myself included).

From Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post:

Sanders’s narrow Michigan win netted him only seven more delegates than Clinton, while her massive victory in Mississippi gave her a 25 delegate edge. The night netted out then +18 for Clinton. Her overall delegate lead — when the unelected and unpledged superdelegates are added into the mix — stands at 650, and she is now more than halfway to the 2,383 delegates she needs to formally secure the nomination.

From Lucia Graves of The Guardian:

Clinton thought she had finessed the trade issue, by focusing on other problems in Michigan, like Flint’s lead-poisoned water, and by skewering Sanders over his vote against the auto bailout (his campaign said it was part of a bigger vote against a bailout for Wall Street). But clearly she hadn’t.

And that’s a troubling finding for anyone worried about a Trump presidency: it suggests the Democrats’ likely nominee could have a problem in crucial manufacturing states.

From Stephen Stromberg of The Washington Post:

Sanders savaged Clinton on trade. At Sunday’s Democratic debate, Sanders railed against NAFTA and other supposed heresies Clinton’s husband committed in the 1990s. This may have proven quite effective. According to exit polls, 58 percent of Democratic voters said that trade “takes away U.S. jobs,” and 56 percent of them voted for Sanders. Sanders also won with people who are “very worried” about the economy. His simplistic populism, with a slightly stronger emphasis on trade, turned out to be the winning narrative in Rust Belt Michigan, and it will no doubt help him in big upcoming states such as Ohio.

From Jim Newell of Slate:

Sanders’ Michigan win was impressive and a total surprise. The fact that Sanders gave an impromptu press conference in Miami outside a hotel Tuesday night, rather than a victory speech in Detroit, tells you just how surprised his campaign was with its success, too. But victories like these on their own will not do it for him. He needs to take whatever narrative momentum he gains from tonight’s win and snowball it into something much larger—a complete inversion of the way the contest has already played out, really. Otherwise, Sanders will serve, at best, as the Clinton of 2008: the candidate who got into a big hole early and was never able to dig out.

From Nate Cohn of The New York Times:

Thirty-three percent of all of the pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention have already been awarded. She has won those delegates by roughly a 60-40 margin.

To overcome it, Mr. Sanders will need to do nearly as well from this point on. Not even the very strong showing for Mr. Sanders imagined above would be enough.

In fact, it still wouldn’t be very close. Mr. Sanders basically splits the delegates with Mrs. Clinton the rest of the way — leaving him far short of the big eight-point advantage he needs.

From Glenn Thrush of Politico:

A groggy and disheveled Bernie Sanders approached the podium in Miami on Tuesday night, three slightly askew campaign signs haphazardly tacked to the wall behind him, talking to a room that had been abandoned by his supporters hours earlier. He had the happily dazed expression of a death-row inmate who had just been told he wasn’t going to be executed, and — who knows? — he might even have a shot at getting the warden’s job.

From Dorothy of outfrontpolitics:

The big meaning of Michigan is that Bernie Sanders and his supporters last night won the whole shebang. Bernie not only won a big, diverse state but he has achieved his main goal: the “political revolution” has indeed been born and is thriving! Old, corrupt politics died in Michigan last night.

In winning Michigan he has shown that small donors and self-organizers can take on the biggest political machine in America and beat it! In so doing he and his supporters have doomed the fat cats and professional political operatives. In beating all predictions they have also made a collective monkey of the puffed-up media. No one can say this often enough: A new day has dawned in America. Government of the people, by the people and for the people has been rescued from the trash heap of the oligarchy corruption.

To sum up, the Michigan Miracle could turn out to be a historic moment in American politics.

10:38 a.m. PST: Don’t count out Sanders. After his upset win over Clinton in the Michigan primary Tuesday, we learned three things about the Democratic race.

1. Don’t believe the polls. The average of polls in Michigan had Clinton winning the state by 20 points, according to RealClearPolitics. FiveThirtyEight forecast a Clinton win with 99 percent certainty. Polls are fallible.

2. We have a ballgame. Sanders’ win in Michigan guarantees that the Democratic race continues through April and perhaps beyond. The next big primary tests for both candidates are on March 15, next Tuesday, when Democrats vote in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

3. The Sanders uprising is alive and well. The Clinton camp hoped to win Michigan and cement her status as the Democratic nominee, but the people said, “Not so fast.” While Donald Trump is displaying raw meat, Sanders is trumpeting a message of social and economic equality that is resonating with people. Can Sanders shock the world and win the Democratic nomination over Clinton? Anything is possible in this revolutionary 2016 election season.

“What tonight means is that the Bernie Sanders campaign ... is strong in every part of the country,” Sanders said in Florida on Tuesday night after the Michigan primary win. “We believe our strongest areas are yet to happen.”

Sanders gets another prime-time opportunity to spread his populist message in a debate with Clinton on Wednesday night at Miami Dade College in Miami. It will be their fourth one-on-one debate and the eighth Democratic debate.

Univision and The Washington Post are hosting the affair. Moderators will be Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post and Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos of Univision.

The festivities start at 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST, and will air live in Spanish on Univision and be simulcast in English on CNN.

We will be live-blogging the debate and providing real-time analysis and commentary at Truthdig, so grab your popcorn and join us here. You also can follow us on Twitter @Truthdig and Facebook.

It should be a dramatic night.

—Posted by Eric Ortiz.

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