Politics

Bernie Sanders Just Doubled Down on Attacking Hillary Clinton's Wall Street Ties at the Flint Debate

March 7th 2016

By:
Steven Thomas Kent

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders again blasted former Secretary of State and front-runner Hillary Clinton during the Democratic debate in Flint for taking hefty speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. Sanders painted Clinton as too friendly with Wall Street executives to bring about financial sector reform, and called on her to release transcripts of the paid speeches so voters could read them.

"Now I kind of think that if you get paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a speech — must be a great speech," Sanders said. "Let's release that speech and see what that transcript was so people can read it and see for themselves."

Clinton responded — as she has before — that she would release the transcripts of the Goldman Sachs speeches when her opponents, both Republican and Democrat, released transcripts of all their paid speaking engagements. She also cited President Obama's track record to dismiss the idea that taking fees and campaign donations from investment firms would restrain her from fighting Wall Street corruption.

"If you’re going to be in some way distrusted or dismissed about whether you can take on Wall Street — well, President Obama took more from Wall Street than anyone ever had." Clinton added: "When it came time to take on Wall Street, he passed and signed the toughest regulation on Wall Street since the Great Depression — Dodd-Frank."

Sanders immediately fired back, though.

"Well, I'm your Democratic opponent, and I agree to release [my transcripts]," he said. "Here it is! There ain't nothing!"

Social media reaction to Clinton's defense seemed cool, and many respondents on Twitter agreed with Sanders' call for her to release the speech transcripts.

Clinton has attracted heavy criticism for taking $675,000 to deliver three speeches to employees of investment firm Goldman Sachs in 2013. Sanders in particular has used the speaking fees to paint Clinton as a candidate beholden to Wall Street executives and other corporate sources of funding.

The New York Times also called on Clinton to release those transcripts late last month. However, politicians and commentators such as New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio have defended her, saying that it's not certain that the transcripts even exist.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the Flint Debate

Sanders' attacks on Clinton's financing sources during the debate were not unexpected, as he had ramped up his attacks on Clinton's Wall Street ties in the days leading up to the debate — a strategy that some in the media interpreted as a last, aggressive push to win over progressive voters in Michigan and other upcoming primary states, and narrow the former secretary's commanding lead in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Despite Sanders' respectable showings in the Democratic primaries so far, many political commentators have suggested that the senator's chances of winning the party's nomination have all but evaporated at this point.

The latest delegate count in the Democratic presidential primary.

By the end of Sunday, after results from the Democratic primary in Maine — where Sanders claimed victory — had come in, Clinton led Sanders 1,129 to 498 in terms of delegates. That number includes Superdelegates, of whom Clinton has 458 to Sanders' 22, as well as pledged delegates from the primaries.

Michigan will hold both its Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday, with 147 delegates at stake for the Democrats. Recent polls show Clinton ahead in Michigan's Democratic race.