While systematic racism and the backing of minority supporters remained the focus of the sixth Democratic presidential debate on Thursday night, some other “domestic issues” also rose to the forefront.
Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spent the better part of night one-upping each other on foreign policy and Wall Street ties. However, toward the end of the debate, their terse back-and-forth got even more intense when the former secretary of state slammed the Vermont senator over his past criticism of President Barack Obama.
“The kind of criticism I hear from Sen. Sanders, I expect from Republicans,” Clinton said in a sharp exchange at the close of the two-hour debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I do not expect it from someone seeking the Democratic nomination.”
The Democratic presidential hopeful was referring to a recent MSNBC interview where Sanders took a dig at the president and blamed him for not being able to close the presidential leadership gap.
“There’s a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people,” the senator said on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” earlier. “What presidential leadership is about [is] closing that gap.”
Since Clinton considers herself the heir-apparent to Obama’s legacy, she also brought up Sanders’ past comments where he called the president "weak." She also pointed to a blurb Sanders wrote lauding the 2016 book, "Buyer's Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down."
“This is not the first time he has criticized President Obama,” she continued. “I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for being a president who got us out of that ditch, put us on firm ground, and sent us into the future.”
Sanders, in the meantime, only smiled before calling Clinton’s attack a “low blow.” He also went on to tout his experience working with Obama and argued that a senator in a democratic society has a "right" to disagree with a president, who he considers a friend, occasionally.
"I think it is really unfair to suggest that I have not been supportive of the president," the senator explained. "I have been a strong ally with him on every issue."
He then turned to his presidential rival and asked, “Have you ever disagreed with the president? I suspect you may have.” Although when Clinton said she has supported Obama every step of the way, Sanders hit back with, “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
Needless to say, his momentous retort put an effective end to the scathing back-and-forth.