Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders traded sharp comments in the first debate in which they faced each other directly.
It took place in New Hampshire, days before the primary in that small, northeastern state.
Senator Sanders pushed Clinton about the donors who give to her campaign. The former secretary of state replied, “Enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.”
Clinton said she was not “bought,” or influenced by donors who were wealthy and powerful. Clinton said she never changed a vote because of a donation and added, "It's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out."
The candidates also battled over what it means to be “progressive.” And the two argued over who would improve health care, education, and the economy.
Sanders called for higher taxes on wealthier Americans to pay for free college education and universal healthcare. Clinton called to make education and healthcare more affordable.
Calling herself a “progressive who gets things done,” Clinton said Sanders’ proposals are “just not achievable.”
As the debate went on, Clinton stressed her experience while Sanders stressed his progressive positions.
Sanders agreed that Clinton has more experience in foreign policy and the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Sanders again questioned Clinton’s vote to support the invasion of Iraq. And she replied, "A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats we face right now.”
The two agreed that U.S. troops should only have an advisory role in the fight against the Islamic State. And “Muslim troops on the ground” are needed in the fight.
In Afghanistan, both agreed with President Barack Obama’s decision to leave 10,000 U.S. ground troops in the fight against the Taliban.
Close race, heated debate
Differences over issues appear to be very small between the candidates. The tone of the debate, however, reflected how close the race for the Democratic nomination has become.
Clinton came out of the Iowa caucus with a very small victory over Sanders. The margin of two-tenths of 1 percent even prompted the Des Moines Register to ask for a recall.
A new poll from CNN/WMUR shows Sanders with 61 percent support to Clinton’s 30 percent in New Hampshire. That state borders Sanders’ home state of Vermont.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Hai Do wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
If you watched the debate or have comments about it, leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Words in This Story
smear – n. an untrue story told about a person meant to hurt their reputation
progressive – adj. using or interested in new and modern ideas especially about politics and education
affordable – adj. not costly, able to be paid for
achievable – adj. able to be reached, able to be successful
prompt – v. to cause to do something