Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Mark Nozelle on FlickR, Creative Commons

March 29, 2016 (New York) - Hilary Clinton indicated today she may be “open” to a debate in New York against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – but only after being blasted on social media for stating she wouldn’t debate Sanders unless he changed his “tone” and avoided “negative” campaigning.  In particular, she objects to Sanders bringing up hefty donations and speaking fees she took from Wall Street and votes she has cast that favored the financial industry.

But back in 2008 when running in a primary against Barack Obama, she aired a TV ad slamming Obama of accepting $200,000 from oil industry representatives and voting  for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that put $6 billion in the pocket of big oil.”

She also accused Obama of trading legislative favors for campaign contributions from the nuclear industry.  “Senator  Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors—Exelon, a big nuclear power company,” she stated, going on to suggest, “apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure of the nuclear industry.”

Her accusations of a secret deal that impugned Obama’s integrity was not only negative in tone, it also earned Clinton “two Pinocchios” from the Washington Post for dishonesty.  The newspaper’s fact checkers found that Clinton failed to provide evidence of any secret deal between Obama and the nuclear industry. 

Why, then, might she prefer to duck a debate with Sanders?

International Business Times, in an article exposing her hypocrisy,  points out that Clinton has backed trade deals, offshore drilling and arms deals that benefitted her major campaign donors as well as supporters of the Clintons’ foundation.  She switched her position on single-payer healthcare after receiving $2.8 million in speaking fees from the healthcare industry, and she backed a bankruptcy bill that helped her financial industry donors.

Candidates’ big donors and their voting records should be legitimate topics for debate in any political campaign.  But in Mrs. Clinton’s case, she apparently believes it’s fine to dish out such criticisms of her opponent –but not to answer similar questions posed about her own political record.

Sanders has graciously avoided some other troubling issues, such as the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State, Benghazi, or other issues that have been red meat for Republicans. 

Clinton is still the frontrunner in overall delegates, though Sanders has gained considerable ground.  A debate with Sanders in New York, the state she represented in the Senate and where Sanders was raised, could give Sanders an opportunity to erode that lead.

However, her reticence to defend her record against a gentlemanly, issues-oriented opponent in a primary election may lead some voters to wonder how she would fare in a general election debate against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, a feisty debater not averse to personal attacks and other hard-hitting tactics, as his performances in the GOP debates have demonstrated.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


It's a Clinton head-fake to Bernie's "tone"

in order to avoid the issue of her incompetence and lack of achievement, unless one counts the ongoing wars in Syria and Libya which were nurtured by the former Secretary of State. Obama stuck her over there at Foggy Bottom to get his main rival out of the Senate. How much harm could she do? Plenty, it turns out.