Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday put Hillary Clinton on the defensive over her liberal credentials just days after she scrapped a victory in the Iowa caucuses in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders, who has a sizable lead in the upcoming New Hampshire primary, rattled off a list of issues where Clinton is out of sync with the liberal wing of the party, including trade, Wall Street regulation, climate change, campaign finance and the 2002 authorisation of the war in Iraq.
“I do not know any progressive who has a super PAC and takes $15 million from Wall Street,” Mr Sanders said, referring to outside fund-raising groups during a candidate forum sponsored by CNN. “That’s just not progressive.”
Mrs Clinton moved quickly to defend her record, saying that under Mr Sanders’ criteria President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and even the deceased Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, a champion of liberal causes, would not be “progressive”.
“I know where I stand,” said Mrs Clinton. “But I don’t think it helps for the senator to be making those kinds of comparisons because clearly we all share the same hopes and aspirations for our country.”
She also pushed back on charges by Mr Sanders and his allies that she cannot be trusted to regulate Wall Street because of the millions in speaking fees she made from the industry before announcing her presidential bid. An analysis of public disclosure forms and records released by her campaign found she made $9 million from appearances sponsored by banks, hedge funds, insurance, private equity and real estate firms. When asked why she was paid such a high speaking fee, she said: “That is what they offered.”
The back-and-forth on progressive credentials was the latest example of tensions between Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders as the race nears the 9 February New Hampshire primary. The Democratic rivals are were expected to appear at a debate last night. Mr Sanders’ razor-thin loss in Iowa on Monday, and his formidable lead in New Hampshire polls, make it likely there will be a protracted fight for the nomination.