Mitch Perry Report for 1.18.16 — Clinton and Sanders clash in Charleston

Mitch Perry

Happy MLK Jr. Day, everybody. We’re 30 years into this day being a national holiday, and yet not even 40 percent of American businesses give the day off to their employees.

Last night (at the very inconvenient hour of 9 p.m.) the three Democratic contenders for president debated in Charleston, South Carolina, two weeks before the Iowa caucuses commence.

Last week was probably the greatest week of the entire campaign for Bernie Sanders, who now is within striking distance there, with Clinton (and her allies) starting to visibly feel the heat of his insurgent run.

The NBC debate started amicably enough (though Lester Holt couldn’t wait to turn away from Martin O’Malley when he was announcing his three top priorities if he were to be elected president. Remote as the scenario was, there was no reason for the NBC Nightly News anchorman to cut away so quickly from him!). Then the issue of guns was put on the table, with Sanders immediately being put on the defensive.

Clinton attacked.

“Yes look, I have made it clear based on Senator Sanders’ own record that he has voted with the NRA, with the gun lobby numerous times. He voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for what we call, the Charleston Loophole. He voted for immunity from gunmakers and sellers which the NRA said, “was the most important piece of gun legislation in 20 years. 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. Let’s not forget what this is about, 90 people a day die from gun violence in our country. That’s 33,000 people a year.”

You can’t get a much more different philosophical approach to this issue than to compare how the Dems discuss this issue vs. how the Republicans did last Thursday in their debate.

Much has been about the fact that while Clinton may lose Iowa and New Hampshire, she’s got South Carolina as her firewall, with the majority of black voters with her there and throughout the rest of the SEC Primary states. Clinton poured it on thick last night about how she, and not Sanders, would be the inheritor of the Obama legacy. Sanders said don’t count him out with that constituency just yet.

“When the African American community becomes familiar with my Congressional Record and with our agenda, and with our views on the economy, and criminal justice — just as the general population has become more supportive, so will the African American community, so will the Latino community. We have the momentum, we’re on a path to a victory,” Sanders responded.

Sanders also dismissed Clinton’s criticisms of his plan for universal health care coverage as “nonsense.”

“I’m on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I made the Affordable Care Act along with Jim Clyburn a better piece of legislation. I voted for it, but right now, what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off. And here’s the important point, we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country. My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by 5,000 bucks. That’s the vision we need to take.”

Sanders disputed the notion that the reason for dysfunction in Washington is because Republicans and Democrats hating each other. “That’s a mythology from the media,” the Vermont independent said. “The real issue is that Congress is owned by big money and refuses to do what the American people want them to do.”

It’s really sad how O’Malley hasn’t caught fire, and has become sort of a parody in these debates with the focus so intensely on Sanders-Clinton. That’s just how it goes, though.

In other news …

On Friday Bob Buckhorn mused about the Tampa location he’d like to see a new Rays ballpark be constructed, but stressed that it would be a complicated transaction.”

And environmental activist Susan Glickman blasted the utilities back solar power constitutional amendment, saying she doesn’t believe it will pass constitutional muster and get on the 2016 ballot.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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