* Hillary Clinton played the gender card and the 9/11 card in a single swoop, to wriggle away from Bernie Sanders as he tied her campaign to Wall Street. “Why has Wall Street been the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton?” Sanders asked loudly, concluding that big contributors only give because “They expect to get something. Everybody knows it.”
Hillary piped up: “Wait a minute! He has used his answer to impugn my integrity … Not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small” but “for the first time, the majority of my donors are women.” Pivoting like a pro, Clinton said, “I represented New York on September 11 when we were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a lot of time helping them rebuild” she said, insisting it “was a way to rebuke the terrorists.” Clinton asserted that under her bank-regulation plan, if Wall Street institutions don’t play by the rules “I will break them up.”
“Wall Street play by the rules? Who are we kidding?! The business model for Wall Street is fraud,” Sanders fired back.
A short time later, the moderators plucked one of many eye-rolling tweets about Hillary’s answer, calling her out for “invoking 9/11” to justify taking donations from Wall Street. One tweeter said they’d never seen a candidate “invoke 9/11 to champion Wall Street. What does that have to do with taking big donations,” Clinton was asked.
“Yes, I did know people” from Wall Street, Clinton answered, but she insisted their donations were in the spirit of “I don’t agree with you on everything but I like how you stand up” and what she’s done for New York.
Sanders said he applauds Clinton for her efforts to rebuild Manhattan after that devastation, but there’s no getting around the fact that Wall Street has become a formidable economic and political power and its “business model is greed and fraud, and for the sake of our economy major banks must be broken up.”
*Bernie compared himself to Ike, scoring one of the few real laugh lines of the night. CBS News moderator Nancy Cordes asked Sanders how he’s going to pay for expensive programs such as his tuition-free college plan. By taxing the wealthy and big corporations, he says. Asked how much of a tax hike he’s planning to stick them with, he responded, “We haven’t come up with an exact number yet … But it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower which was 90%,” Sanders said of the Republican president.
“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower,” Sanders concluded, to guffaws from the crowd.
*”You’re breaking the rules,” moderator John Dickerson admonished Martin O’Malley when he tried to jump into the other candidates’ health-care debate. But Dickerson cut off O’Malley – so he could segue to a commercial break. Later, Dickerson did it again, telling a candidate who wanted to talk about Wall Street, “We are going to talk about Wall Street – but now we’ve got to go to commercial” with no hint of irony, although it came through loud and clear on Twitter. Still later, Dickerson brought the talk to an abrupt halt, saying, “We’ve got to take a break or the machine breaks down.”
And though much debate discussion centered on the corrosive effect on our health care of insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies, one ad break included an ad for Farmers Insurance, a diabetes drug called Jardiance, the National Retail Federation plug, and the anti-immigration lobbying org NumbersUSA, plus one for the travel site Trivago.
*Sanders was asked the Hillary’s Emails question – again. This time he was asked if he regretted saying at the first Dem debate that he and America were sick and tired of hearing about Clinton’s emails, given that he later was quoted saying there were some valid points to looking into them. This time it played out – exactly as it had last time. Sanders scolded the moderators for the question, calling it “media stuff,” saying he is sick and tired of the emails questions and that what he’d like for the media now is to instead talk about why the middle class is disappearing, prison reform, etc.
Wild applause from the hall. Tonight, as before, Clinton was asked to rebut.
“I completely agree,” said Clinton, refusing to look gift horse in mouth. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” She then gave Sanders “a lot of credit for really lighting a fire under many people” in this election cycle, in marked contrast with Republicans, who are “trying to prevent people from registering to vote” (last debate, when asked if she’d like to comment on Lincoln Chafee’s email criticisms, she responded simply, “No”).
*Candidates did not get in the last word at this debate. Twitter did. After each candidate gave what they thought were the debates closing statements, CBS cut to one last round of commercials. Then we were back to moderator Dickerson:
“So Major Garrett how did they do tonight, and what’s getting the most talked about on Twitter?” John Dickerson asked, throwing to Garrett in “The Spin Alley.”
Garrett started in with, “So John, our partnership with Twitter reveals the most talked about moments for each of the three candidates.” When he came to Sanders having compared himself to Eisenhower for socialist chops, the off-camera audience broke into laughter.
When he got to the tweet level for an O’Malley quip about GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as an “immigrant bashing carnival barker” – more laughs erupted, and the camera cut to the stage where the candidates were still standing behind their podiums, reduced to props for a Twitter promo. #awkward #notovertilltwittersaysso