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Galindez writes: "Listen carefully to all the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president. Well, listen to Hillary and Joe - Bernie is staying on message, and unless you attend their events you won't hear what the other Democrats are saying. Hillary and Joe are testing lines they hope can score points for them in the debate."

Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. (photo: AP/Reuters/Salon)
Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. (photo: AP/Reuters/Salon)

Battle Lines Are Being Drawn for First Democratic Debate

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

11 October 15


isten carefully to all the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president. Well, listen to Hillary and Joe – Bernie is staying on message, and unless you attend their events you won’t hear what the other Democrats are saying. Hillary and Joe are testing lines they hope can score points for them in the debate.

Joe Biden

I know, he hasn’t announced yet, but ...

I think Joe Biden’s implication that he was a realist, not a populist like Bernie Sanders, was a sign that he is planning to jump into the race and challenge the feasibility of Bernie’s proposals. It won’t work with Bernie’s base, but it could impact those on the fence who like what Bernie has to say but wonder if he can make his plans a reality. Aside from that, I haven’t really heard much from Biden that indicates which direction he wants the debate to go.

I do know that back in February the vice president spoke in Des Moines and said the candidates should run on the Obama administration’s record. In a lengthy speech at Drake University, he touted the administration’s accomplishments. If Biden jumps into the race I would expect that to be the theme of his campaign, and what he will focus on in the debate.

Martin O’Malley

The former governor of Maryland will take aim at Bernie Sanders early and often. He has called Sanders a protest candidate, and he ran a web ad attacking Sanders’ positions on gun control. For O’Malley to gain traction he has to open up some space to the left of Clinton, space that is now occupied by Bernie Sanders. O’Malley’s theme is “Action, not Words.” He is implying that as governor he got progressive things done, unlike the other candidates, who have proposed things but not had success in implementing their proposals.

Bernie should fire back and say “if I had been the governor of Vermont, I could have signed a lot of progressive legislation too, but as a US senator in Washington’s gridlock it’s not that easy.” Bernie should go on to say that he is running for president to bring fundamental changes to Washington.

O’Malley will likely call for more debates, and might take some shots at Clinton too. But if O’Malley has his eyes on being Hillary Clinton’s running mate, that will keep him from going after her. At this point I see the #2 spot as the only path O’Malley has to a future road to the presidency, so don’t be surprised if he becomes Hillary’s attack dog.

Jim Webb

Why is he still in the race? I don’t see him adding anything to the debate. He will tout his foreign policy resumé. As the former secretary of the Navy, he probably has the best resume for commander in chief. On the domestic front, prison reform is his pet project and could be an issue he would like to bring to the forefront.

Lincoln Chafee

He is a nice guy ... he won’t attack anyone. He will smile and say we have to end the war and bring the money home. If you play a drinking game, you could get drunk if you drink every time Chafee says “peace.” I am a peace activist so I’m not trying to make fun of Chafee, but you have to develop a broader platform than he has.


Hillary v. Bernie

Unless Vice President Biden jumps in during the next few days, all eyes will be on Hillary and Bernie. They may not directly attack each other but there will be subtle attacks, especially from Clinton, and Bernie will attempt to lay out the policy differences between the two. The Sanders camp insists that Bernie will focus on introducing himself to the nation and won’t be looking for a fight. Hillary on the other hand needs to land some blows and slow Bernie down.


Free College Education

Let’s start with Hillary. I guarantee she will go after Bernie on his plan for free college education at public universities. Last week she tested the line “I am not interested in having the taxpayers pay for Donald Trump’s kids to go to college.” I expect Bernie to immediately point out that all of Trump’s kids went to private colleges and universities, and under his plan it would be Wall Street paying for young people to get a higher education. We already have free public education – Bernie just wants to extend it four more years.

Foreign Policy

Hillary would love to spend a lot of the debate on foreign policy. CNN might bring up Benghazi, but I don’t think the other candidates will. As the former secretary of state, she will want to impress people with her knowledge of foreign policy. There is big risk here. Both Bernie and Lincoln Chafee will not let her forget her support for the Iraq war. She will have to defend her call for a no-fly zone in Syria. We know Hillary will take credit for imposing tough sanctions on Iran and bringing them to the table for talks on their nuclear weapons program. She will talk about her meetings with world leaders and maybe take a shot at Carly Fiorina, who calls Clinton’s meetings photo-ops.

Trump and the GOP

Hillary would love to spend most of her time attacking the Republicans. Her only risk here is voters thinking she is looking ahead and acting like the nominee before the primaries even start. Overall though, this is where she needs to be. All the candidates need to demonstrate that they can make the case against the Republicans and beat them.


One of the biggest openings Bernie has is that he is polling well, even with a significant percentage of voters still not knowing much about him. He has to seize the moment on the national stage and introduce himself to the American people. His message is resonating; he needs to stay on message until all Americans have heard it. He does need to lay out the differences he has with Secretary Clinton, but his main focus should be his core message of fighting inequality. Americans know the system is rigged, and they are looking for someone to fight for them. That is Bernie’s lane to the nomination and the White House. Now the differences.


So you think Hillary took the TPP off the table when she sort of came out against the TPP. If you listened closely to Bernie’s response, he said it would have been nice to have her on board a few months ago when they needed 60 votes. Bernie is right: Hillary stayed on the sidelines during an extremely important vote. Fast track made it to the Senate floor by one vote; I guess two, if you consider that the vice president would have broken a tie. Twelve Democrats voted to end debate. What if Hillary Clinton had taken a strong position then? Maybe two senators would have helped kill fast track. As it is now, because the president was given fast track authority, the TPP only needs 50 votes in the Senate. Hillary Clinton’s position on fast track, according to her communications director Jennifer Palmeri, was that it was a procedural vote and that it was up to members of Congress to decide how they wanted to consider trade deals. To be fair, a few days before the vote, Clinton said she would have “probably” voted against fast track if she had still been in the Senate, but that is a pretty weak statement. Now all she really says is that from what she has heard about the deal, she doesn’t think it will meet her standards. I for one didn’t hear her say she was opposed.

Keystone XL Pipeline

Once again, Hillary has finally come to the right conclusion, but again she is too late. If she had come to that decision when she was secretary of state and had recommended to the president that he turn down the permit, the pipeline would no longer be an issue. We are now waiting for John Kerry stop delaying and make decision, but instead they keep kicking the can down the road, a process started while Secretary Clinton was in office.

Minimum Wage

So you say that Hillary supports raising wages. She does, but she won’t commit to $15 dollars an hour. I have been trying to ask her where she thinks $15 dollars an hour is too much money. Bernie or Martin can ask her that for me.

There are other issues that separate Bernie and Hillary, but those to me are the game changers. Of course Bernie will raise campaign finance and point to Clinton and O’Malley’s super-PACS. Taft Hartley will be raised, Iraq, the Patriot Act.

CNN has a lot of control here. Let’s hope Anderson Cooper allows it be a debate on the issues and not a gotcha circus like the Republicans had.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

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