Bernie Sanders pounced on Hillary Clinton for giving paid speeches to Wall Street firms.
The Democrats clashed over Wall Street, foreign policy and campaign finance Sunday night, but provided a united front on the issue closest to the hearts of the residents of Flint, Mich.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced off for the seventh Democratic debate in Flint, a former factory town where lead-tainted water has had residents suffering for nearly two years.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around, and one of the points that I have made is I believe the governor of this state should understand that his dereliction of duty was irresponsible,” Sanders said during his opening statements. “He should resign.”
The socialist Vermont senator seamlessly worked in his focus on economic issues while addressing the water crisis.
“The wealthiest country in the history of the world has got to get its priorities right, take care of its people, no more tax cuts for billionaires,” he said.
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton makes a point during Sunday’s Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint in Flint, Mich.
Clinton offered a response praising her rival’s reaction to the contamination of the water in the Detroit suburb.
“I say amen to that,” Clinton said as she started her opening statement, adding that she too wants to see Gov. Rick Snyder resign.
But “that is not enough. We have to focus on what must be done to help the people of Flint.”
Just before the debate began, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Republicans were to blame for the water crisis in Flint.
Bernie Sanders speaks at Sunday’s debate in Flint, Mich.
“This crisis was caused by Republicans,” Wasserman Schultz said. “By a Republican governor and a Republican legislature who decided it was more important to save money than to ensure that the people of Flint had quality clean drinking water.”
But the lovefest didn’t last long, as Clinton and Sanders quickly went after one another on economic issues, Clinton’s history of giving paid speeches to Wall Street firms, trade policies and other issues.
Sanders pounded Clinton on her past support for international trade deals that he says have cost American jobs.
Clinton said there needs to be both “carrots and sticks” so that manufacturers make investments in the U.S.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders pose onstage at the start of the debate.
As the debate began, Sanders was declared the winner of the Maine Democratic presidential caucuses. The win gave the self-styled Democratic Socialist a boost, but he still lags behind in the overall delegate count.
Sanders admitted Sunday that the delegate numbers are stacked against him in the race for his party’s nomination, but citing victories a day earlier in Kansas and Nebraska, showed no sign of dropping out.
“Geographically, we are looking good,” he told ABC’s “This Week,” claiming that he still “sees a path toward victory.”
The delegate count, however, tells a different story. Including superdelegates, Hillary Clinton, who won the Louisiana Democratic primary, now has 1,121 delegates, compared with 481 for Sanders.
It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.
With News Wire Services
With Adam Edelman