Candidates Square off in the Final Democratic Presidential Debate of 2015
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News December 19, 2015
At Saturday night’s Bernie Sanders apologized to Hillary Clinton and his own supporters for a breach of her campaign's voter data, seeking to put the controversy to rest in a debate that quickly moved on to national security concerns and Americans' heightened fear of terrorism. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner who kept an eye on the general election, was also sharply critical of Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, calling the leader of the GOP race the Islamic State's "best recruiter."
"Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people," said Clinton, the former secretary of state.
Clinton and Sanders, her closest challenger, entered Saturday night's debate in the midst of one of their fiercest fights — about the campaign itself rather than a national or international issue. Clinton's campaign accused Sanders' team of stealing information used to target voters and anticipate what issues might motivate them. In response to the breach, the Democratic National Committee temporarily cut off Sanders' team's access to its own data, a move the Vermont senator said Saturday was an "egregious act."
"This is not the type of campaign that we run," he said. Sanders' campaign fired a worker involved in the breach but also used the controversy to raise money, sending an email to supporters that said the national party had placed "its thumb on the scales in support of Hillary Clinton's campaign."
Clinton accepted the apology, saying "We should move on because I don't think the American people are interested in this.” The third for Democrats, was expected to have low viewership given that it was scheduled on the last weekend before Christmas, when many Americans have turned their attention to the holidays and Star Wars.
Clinton and Sanders were joined by former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has had a tough time to be a factor in the race. O'Malley was aggressive in seeking to play a role in the debate, repeatedly talking over moderators and accusing his rivals of having outdated views on foreign policy. Clinton also defied moderators' efforts to cut her off, leading Sanders to call out, "Now this is getting to be fun."
While there was strong agreement among the Democratic contenders that the U.S. should not engage a ground war to defeat the Islamic State, they differed in the tactics they would take and whether the nation should seek regime change in Syria, where IS has a stronghold. Clinton recommended more direct action than her competitors, calling for a no-fly zone over part of Syria and insisting that the U.S. must seek to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.
"If the United States does not lead, there is not another leader — there is a vacuum," she said.
Sanders disagreed, saying the U.S. should first seek to defeat the Islamic State, calling Assad a "secondary issue" that should be dealt with over the course of years.
Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley suggest Clinton is too friendly with Wall Street. When asked by moderators whether corporate America should love her, she quipped, "Everybody should."