The Secretary did not answer the question! Sanders calls Clinton's bluff after she paints him as 'anti-Obama'

New York: “The Secretary did not answer your question!” Bernie Sanders called Hillary Clinton’s bluff fair and square in the last Democratic debate before America begins voting in the first of the presidential nominating contests early Febuary. The final democratic debate was checked off Sunday, 17 January in South Carolina, a southern state where black votes will count heavily.

Desperate to yank her sinking poll numbers up, Clinton ditched her earlier refrain —“ Obama picked me for Secretary of State” and instead painted arch rival Sanders, 75, as the anti-Obama Democrats must fear.

Links:As Iowa caucus nears, ghosts from the 1990s are back to haunt Clinton

Explainer: Iowa and its perplexing election process

Clinton scores on guns, Sanders wallops her on other issues/ AP

Clinton scores on guns, Sanders wallops her on other issues/ AP

Angry old man Bernie Sanders' rock star appeal is denting Clinton's ratings almost as badly as it did in 2008 when a young man named Barack Obama demolished her in Iowa. Sanders speaks of a political revolution that would offer vast new government-funded benefits to individual Americans, including health insurance, paid maternity leave and free tuition at public colleges.

Defending Obama as a Moses-like figure under attack from Sanders, Clinton painted the Vermont Senator as just the guy you want to avoid on a train ride. Under attack for her cosy relationship with the wealthy, Clinton wounded Sanders repeatedly on gun control.

"He voted to let guns go onto the Amtrak, guns go into National Parks. He voted against doing research to figure out how we can save lives," Clinton said.

In 2009, Sanders voted to allow Amtrak passengers to store firearms in their checked luggage. President Obama eventually signed this provision into law in a separate bill. That year, Sanders also voted for a bill to allow licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks. President Obama eventually signed that bill into law, too.

Sanders responded painting Clinton as precisely the kind of person the American economy is rigged to protect — that Clinton wore diamond studded jewellery helped further the angy old man’s rallying cry. “How can you expect a person who takes $ 600,000 as speaking fees from Goldman Sachs to do anything about Wall Street,” he asked.

In answer, Clinton hugged Obama tighter than ever, hoping the audience forgets the zeroes in $ 600,000.

She also offered the Dodd Frank refrain as a defence. Dodd who?

Like Sanders rammed in, the Secretary did not answer to the questions. She used Obama as a shield, offering 4 more years of the same. Sanders offered revolution, “police officers that look like the community they work in,” “taxes on Wall Street’s speculative activity,” "medical insurance for all."

"I don't need Wall Street's money, I am fighting for a political revolution that rises from the middle class and those are the people who are funding my campaign," Sanders said lashing out at "corrupt campaign financing."

“How come Senator Sanders is beating you 2-1 with young voters?” the NBC moderator asked Clinton in a debate that leaned heavily on social media indicators to inform the second line of questioning.

This snapshot from Sanders’ twitter page answers that. It’s the thing that’s worrying the Clinton camp most. It’s why emails like these are spewing out from the Clinton camp: “I just finished the last debate of this primary before voting begins. We always knew that this election would get close and that we’d have a real race on our hands -- well, now we’re in one.” And another: “Public polling shows we have a real race on our hands in Iowa and New Hampshire -- and make no mistake, we could lose one or both of these contests.” This one comes from John Podesta, Chair, Hillary for America.

I hope Hillary had a good lunch, because somebody ate hers today,” said John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine on how the debate went for the former Secretary of State.

“From the beginning, Clinton was perceived as too negative toward Sanders. The attacks not only didn’t resonate, they made him appear even stronger as he was able to reinforce his message in response,” said Chris Kofinis of Park Street Strategies, which conducted a focus group of likely Democratic voters in South Carolina.

In hugging Obama so tight, Clinton, in her desperation to wrest Iowa, has gone to the other extreme of her original campaign rhetoric: "I'm not running for my husband's third term. I'm not running for President Obama's third term. I'm running for my first term."

With Sanders in a dead heat with Clinton in Iowa and ahead of her in New Hampshire, Clinton's line that she's running for her first term is not working. By embracing Obama's legacy so abruptly, Clinton has just given her "enemies" the Republicans, the tag line for their next ad: How do you know what she will say next?

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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2016 02:02:11 IST