Bernie Sanders Passed on Hitting One of Hillary Clinton’s Biggest Weaknesses

He’d rather talk about Wall Street.

Richard Ellis/ZUMA Wire

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has signaled for months that it doesn’t want to go negative against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. At the second Democratic presidential debate on Saturday, Sanders took the gloves off—hitting the former secretary of state for her support among Wall Street donors. But early on, he took a pass on underscoring a major point of distinction between them.

The first half hour of the second Democratic presidential debate was focused on how the United States should deal with ISIS and international terrorism. It could have been an opening for Sanders to highlight Hillary Clinton’s early support for the Iraq war. And out of the gate, Sanders did emphasize his opposition to the 2003 invasion. “I don’t think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the instability we are seeing now,” he said. “I think that was one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in the history of the United States.”

But when the CBS moderator, John Dickerson, pressed him specifically about Clinton’s support for the war, he didn’t take the gloves off:

I think we have a disagreement, and the disagreement is that not only did I vote against the war in Iraq if you look at history, John, you will find that regime change, whether it was in the early ’50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Allende in Chile, whether it was overthrowing the government of Guatemala way back when, these invasions, these toppling of governments…regime changes have unintended consequences. I will say, on these issues I am a little bit more conservative than the secretary in that I am not in favor of regime change.

That was it. It was a history lesson—and a true one—but it was hardly a powerful indictment of her record.

By contrast, in 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama hammered Clinton over and over again for her vote to authorize the war; on Saturday, Sanders spoke right past her.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate