The gloves are staying off in the Democratic primary

January 20, 2016

The camps of Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders swapped swipes again, ramping up criticisms of their opponents as the February 1st Iowa caucus inches closer and polls continue to show a competitive race.

Signaling that problems lie ahead for Clinton, who has long been thought an inevitable lock for the nomination, a hot off the press CNN poll of New Hampshire voters showed Sanders with a 27 percentage point lead. Sanders registered a whopping 60 percent while Clinton trail at 33 percent — a poll the Vermont senator acknowledged could be an outlier.

Seeing the likelihood of a photo-finish in Iowa, both sides ramped up their criticism.

Clinton’s camp charged that Republicans are trying to help get Sanders elected as the Democratic nominee because they would rather run against him.

“In the next two weeks you’re going to hear a lot of statements from a lot of people,” Sanders told reporters in response. “I don’t know that they are putting out supportive statements of me. But I think that at the end of the day, we stand a much better chance of beating Republicans.”

Clinton’s camp released a letter criticizing Sanders on foreign policy, signed by 10 former diplomats and national security officials.

“His lack of a strategy for defeating ISIS – one of the greatest challenges we face today – is troubling. And the limited things he has said on ISIS are also troubling,” the diplomats wrote.

Sanders, in response, pointed to his vote against the Iraq war as evidence that he has foreign policy creds, while conceding that as secretary of state, Clinton gained a good deal of experience.

“There is a difference between experience and judgment,” Sanders said. “On the crucial foreign policy issue of our time, it turns out that Secretary Clinton with all of her experience was wrong and I was right. Experience is important. Dick Cheney had a lot of experience.”

Endorsing Clinton in a phone call with reporters, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Clinton has been working to try to help the city deal with a crippling  contamination of lead in the city’s water.

“She has actually been the only, the only candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?’,” Weaver said.

Sanders then dismissed other criticism that while Clinton was helping in Flint — sending two staffers to the state — he was simply talking about the problem but not offering solutions.

“What can I say, we’re in the middle of two weeks of a campaign, you’re going to hear a lot of charges,” Sanders said.

But the Vermont senator didn’t keep quiet on Clinton, even if he didn’t call her out by name.

“Without naming any names, Goldman Sachs provides very very generous speaking fees to some unnamed candidates,” Sanders said. “You’ve got to be really, really good to get $225,000 a speech.”

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens at the NBC News – YouTube Democratic presidential candidates debate in Charleston, South Carolina January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill

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