Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are done being nice

Shots fired.
Shots fired.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders put all niceties aside from the first minutes of the CNN Democratic debate in Brooklyn on Thursday (April 14), as they battled for New York votes ahead of the state’s primary.

They started by exchanging blows about each other’s judgement.

“Does Secretary Clinton have the intelligence, the experience to be president? Of course she does. But I do question her judgment,” said Sanders. He said he questioned Clinton’s judgement on her vote for the war in Iraq as “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” about taking money from super PACS and supporting trade deals. “I don’t believe that is the kind of judgment we need.”

Clinton fired back that New York voters had trusted her enough to elect her twice to the US Senate, and Barack Obama trusted her enough to make her secretary of state. She brought up Bernie Sanders’ contentious New York Daily News editorial board interview. “If you go and read Senator Sanders’ long interview with the Daily News, talk about judgment and the kind of problems he had answering questions about even his core issue, breaking up the banks.”

In a debate peppered with smirks and mocking laughs from both candidates, Clinton and Sanders clashed over gun control and criminal justice reform. Sanders said that Clinton’s use of the term “superpredator” in 1996 was racist. “It was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term,” he said.

When Clinton gave an answer on gun control, Sanders chortled. ”This isn’t a laughing matter,” Clinton fired back. “Ninety people on average are killed or commit suicide or die from accidents with guns [every day]: 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously.”

Sanders ridiculed Clinton’s claim that she fought against big banks when she represented New York in the Senate. ”Secretary Clinton called them out, oh my goodness they must have been really crushed,” he said.

“Was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? So they must have been very, very upset by what you told them,” he quipped.

The moderators grilled the candidates on some of their weak points, often cornering them into unexpected answers. Sanders said he would finally release his tax returns, starting with his 2014 return, which he said he would reveal Friday (April 15).

When asked whether she would sign a $15 minimum wage bill if it landed on her desk, Clinton said that “of course she would.” Because this was the first time she gave such a definitive answer on the issue, Sanders responded that he was sure “a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.” Clinton later somewhat backtracked on her statement, saying that she would first support raising the federal minimum wage to $12, getting to $15 eventually.