Democratic Party

3 Surprising Exchanges From the Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton's emails, Obama's deportations, and the Libyan fiasco each provided a meaningful moment.


The moderators at tonight's Univision-sponsored

Bernie and Hillary, besties

Democratic Presidential Debate were well-prepared and would not be bowed by evasions, as they pestered the candidates to answer direct questions no matter how many times they had to be repeated.

But what can you do? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been at this long enough that instinctively retreating to poll-tested stump speech talking points when challenged with any problematic question is now second nature for them.

For that reason, truly interesting and unscripted moments were hard to come by, but there were 3 surprising exchanges worth further discussion. 

1. Hillary Clinton says her email scandal is a case of "overclassification."

After moderator Jorge Ramos asked Clinton whether she would drop out of the race if she were indicted on charges pertaining to her handling of classified materials on a private email server while serving as secretary of state from 2009-2013, Clinton gave a triangulating answer that would make her husband, the former president, proud:

I'm going to give the same answer I've been giving for many months. It wasn't the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed…

I did not send or receive any emails marked classified at the time. What you are talking about is retroactive classification. And the reason that happens is when somebody asks or when you are asked to make information public, I asked all my emails to be made public. Then all the rest of the government gets to weigh in.

They've just said the same thing to former Secretary Colin Powell. They have said, we're going to retroactively classify emails you sent personally.

Now I think he was right when he said this is an absurdity. And I think that what we have got here is a case of overclassification.

That last sentence is the jaw-dropper, especially considering she was the secretary of state in an administration that has touted itself as the "most transparent in history," but has instead been dramatically opaque. She herself has been notably un-transparent in a number of critical dealings throughout her career.

Regarding Clinton's assertion that she asked for "all (her) emails to be made public," Politifact rates that Mostly False.

2. Both candidates committed to ending deportations of immigrants without criminal records.

Ramos asked both Clinton and Sanders if they would refuse to deport undocumented children and immigrants with no criminal records. Agreeing not to kick kids out of the country went down pretty easily for Clinton, but it took some persistence on Ramos' part for Clinton to say she'd go all the way to ending the Obama administration's current policies which have led to the most deportations by any president in history:

RAMOS: You won't deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record?

CLINTON: That's what I'm telling you… 

RAMOS: So you will stop those deportations.

CLINTON: I would stop…

RAMOS: The deportations for children…


RAMOS: … and those who don't have a criminal record.

CLINTON: Of the people, the undocumented people living in our country, I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship. That is exactly what I will do.

Bernie Sanders said he agrees with President Obama on many issues but "he is wrong on this issue of deportation." When asked directly to "promise not to deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record," Sanders replied, "I can make that promise."

3. Benghazi question draws boos, Sanders questions wisdom of Libyan intervention. 

The audience booed lustily (at the moderators) when Clinton was asked if she lied to the families of the victims of the Benghazi massacre when she told them that the attack on the US embassy had occurred because of a Youtube video.

After watching a clip of one of the victims' mothers essentially calling her a liar, Clinton replied, "I certainly can't even imagine the grief that she has for losing her son, but she's wrong. She's absolutely wrong."

Sanders refused to throw punches over Benghazi, keeping consistent with how he's treated the issue throughout the campaign, but instead brought up "a series of articles in the New York Times (which) talked about Secretary Clinton's role in urging the administration to go forward with regime change, getting rid of Gadhafi in Libya."

Sanders added:

Gadhafi was a brutal dictator, there's no question. But one of the differences between the secretary and I is I'm not quite so aggressive with regard to regime change. I voted against the war in Iraq because I had a fear of what would happen the day after.

Unfortunately, Sanders then started mumble-grousing about the mutual secretary of state admiration between Clinton and Henry Kissinger, and the moderators cut him off to go to a commercial break.

Still, it was correct of him to point out that the Libyan intervention itself was misbegotten and that the mess left in the wake of Gadhafi's downfall (which includes the attack in Beghazi) is largely because of Clinton's hawkish influence on the administration while serving as secretary of state.

Ultimately, the debate could be perceived as a fairly civil draw. What made it notable was the deft questioning and indefatigable followups of the moderators, who drew out these notable nuggets in an otherwise fairly typical event. 

NEXT: Bernie Sanders Is Right to Trash the Ex-Im Bank

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  1. Jesus fucking Christ, this country is sooooooo fucked no matter which way things go. I didn’t think the end would come so soon – maybe 20 years from now? No – now. It’s over. Sad.

    1. I haven’t been around lately due to work so it’s good to see you Almanian!

      Bernie’s like the crazy uncle who seems mostly normal if a little odd and then starts rambling in the tin foil territory. It’s hilarious that he leaves the mountains and mountains of crap underneath Hillary mostly alone while focusing on a inconsequential geriatric. It’s like Abe Simpson in a boxing a ring. Maybe he’s given up and doesn’t want to do actually damage her chances in the general election while enjoying 19 year old campaign volunteers stroking his, er, ego.

      1. Three capitalist vultures in spats with dollar sign eye s walk into a cigar bar , order a round of Southern Poverty Law Center Comfort.

        1. Damn. I clicked that link.

          1. Thanks for the warning.

  2. But one of the differences between the secretary and I is

    This is America. Learn to speak English. It is “between the secretary and me.”

      1. In my mother tongue nouns and pronouns have six cases. I’m not sympathetic to the college-educated Americans who cannot manage even two for just fourfive pronouns.

        1. simplify,simplify,simplify

        2. Meh. Agglutinative/Fusional languages are overly-complex for the sake of being complex. Give me an analytic-isolating language from the Sino-Tibetan or Tai-Kadai language families any day,

      2. Rather long and complicated argument for something so simple, HM. When I finished reading that, all I saw was pronouns standing on a street singing ” Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last! “

    1. The English language is racist1!1!1!!!

  3. Hillary keeps rolling the talking-points tape on all her currently brewing crises and lies. And Bernie just lets her get away with it, past some checks from Goldman Sachs. I have to admit, it will be entertaining watching her try to ‘solve’ Trump.

    1. “And Bernie just lets her get away with it, past some checks from Goldman Sachs.”

      I’m guessing self-preservation.

      1. Well, I’m sure the thought that he may derail the ‘First Female President’ would make him so horrifically depressed that he would be likely to commit suicide… shooting himself in the back of the head 4 times.

  4. I don’t understand this “we won’t deport illegal immigrants who are not criminals” formulation.

    Being in the country without citizenship, resident alien status, or a valid visa is itself a crime?

    What is even the point of a nation or laws or being a citizen or working if all one has to do to qualify for FREE* college and cradle to grave healthcare is… travel to America once and overstay your visa?

    1. Not all crimes are created equal. Remember that Bruce Jenner was responsible for a fatal crash a year ago? He got all sorts of “courage awards” as soon as he identified as Caitlyn just a couple of months later. Nonetheless, I think that if Jenner had been involved in a DUI that hadn’t involved anyone being harmed, he would have been condemned for this much more strongly.

    2. I don’t understand this “we won’t deport illegal immigrants who are not criminals” formulation.

      Being in the country without citizenship, resident alien status, or a valid visa is itself a crime?

      A) note that they did not say “illegal immigrants” or even “undocumented.” They appeared to be talking about legal immigrants who had done nothing wrong. Of course, that’s because they’re assholes who are full of shit, but whatever. More relevantly:

      B) no, being in the country illegally is not a crime. Now, maybe 99% of illegals committed crimes to enter the country (either border jumping, which is a crime, or visa fraud, also a crime) and the vast majority of illegals commit various identity theft, etc crimes to manage to live here, but it’s not quite all of them

      1. Um, how does one manage to be in the country illegally without committing a crime?

        I didn’t kill him. The bullet and the fall killed him.

        1. If you come here on a valid temporary visa and legitimately intend to return to your country but for some reason change your mind while here, that’s not a crime.

          1. That seems to make no sense at all, but… TIL.

          2. I know an Italian guy that spent a month in the Florida jails for overstaying his visa and getting in a random roadside checkpoint.

            1. Even though he had a ticket back they took him to the airport in handcuffs and put him on an Alitalia flight back to Rome.

              1. I’ve had conversations with people all over the political spectrum that have consisted of “this person was sent back or this person can’t get into the country because — they’re not Mexican”.

                There are many classes of immigrant that want to be in this country and fight against our Byzantine regulations, all while another class of immigrant is allowed almost complete free reign to be here.

                1. Exactly. Immigration today is like crony capitalism, it’s who you know or what group you’re in that get’s you in. It has nothing to do with freedom of association that a lot of libertarians like to bring up.

      2. note that they did not say “illegal immigrants” or even “undocumented.” They appeared to be talking about legal immigrants who had done nothing wrong.

        I thought that they must be talking about non-criminal non-citizens, because the idea that anyone would take the idea of deporting criminal or non-criminal citizens never occurred to me.

        If we deported citizens, where the hell would we deport them? The middle of the ocean?

        I guess Trump is proposing that, or something? Fucking future?

        1. *take the idea … seriously

  5. For all the shitstorm that the Repubs have made for themselves, I’m still a bit surprised that the Dems are down to choosing between the crook and the kook. One of them’s Liddy Dole without the record of success, the other’s Ralph Nader without the law degree (but with a Senate seat).

    1. A thin bench of national candidates is going to be ongoing problem for the progs, and is sort of their chickens coming home to roost. Years of purity purges and electoral slaughter has filtered them down to a collective Identity Brigade of individuals with no interest or appeal beyond their provincial identity groups.

      Outside Corey Booker, they have no candidate I can think of with even potential national appeal. And Booker would get scuttled by Lizzie in the primaries anyways.

      1. BLAME OBAMA for his back bench getting eliminated over the last few years.

        1. Either that, or the standards of excellence he set, are deterring successors.

      2. Better than how the libertarians are doing…

      3. True, the only other names I hear mentioned as future Dem stars are the Castro brothers, which is just a joke (you can tell the difference between them and the Cuban Castro brothers because the Cubans aren’t as far left).

    2. “Dems are down to choosing between the crook and the kook”

      It seems to me that they have no other choice. No one apart from kooks dares to even try to run against the crook, because they all know the crook plays dirty and they’re liable to get torn down if they attempt to upset the crook’s coronation. So the only people challenging the crook are insane. And thus the Dems are stuck choosing one or the other, because they have committed to the Tribe.

  6. How many times do we have to debunk the “record number of deportations” twaddle?

    And didn’t Hillary admit to deleting all the “personal” emails from her server? So doesn’t that make it impossible for her to demonstrate that the fucking Secretary of State never sent or received classified documents from her only fucking email address?

    What happens to most people who destroy evidence after the Feds start an investigation?

    What she meant to say is that they ran a script to delete all the emails marked confidential and now they realize that they missed a few because BLAME OBAMA.

  7. RAMOS: You won’t deport immigrants who don’t have a criminal record?

    CLINTON: That’s what I’m telling you…

    RAMOS: So you will stop those deportations.

    CLINTON: I would stop…

    RAMOS: The deportations for children…

    CLINTON: Yes.

    RAMOS: … and those who don’t have a criminal record.

    CLINTON: Of the people, the undocumented people living in our country, I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship. That is exactly what I will do.

    When asked directly to “promise not to deport immigrants who don’t have a criminal record,” Sanders replied, “I can make that promise.

    One question: the fact of being in the country, but not being in the process of obtaining citizenship, does that count as a crime?

    1. See above, it actually doesn’t.

      1. Interesting — so let’s say the person in question is an expat who’s got back into the country; afaik it’s not a crime to renounce citizenship, but on the other hand, I know Hillary- and Bernie-types wouldn’t like such a person.

  8. Hildogs got lot’s of problems. Unlike some, I doubt she could have done much in Beghazi given the logistics.

    Lying to the families on the tarmac when their bodies arrived, and she has far more reason to lie than mourning families shows me what a scumbag she is. Yet some wonder why even team blue people don’t trust her.

    1. The tarmac episode with the families, that to me just gets worse and worse. Hillary should’ve said “I was trying to comfort them and things were so crazy I spoke to them about a lot of things that day, I may have mentioned the film.”

      Instead she keeps digging and digging. Guess what most Americans don’t like? Being called a liar.

      ,,,and what is it about Hillary lying and tarmacs? Between Bosnian sniper fire and bad youtube videos she should just the fuck up anytime she is anywhere near a tarmac.

  9. Even if we assume that being in the country illegally isn’t an act of crime in and of itself, the fact remains that an illegal alien can’t have a criminal record in this country….. unless he was physically present in the country to commit a crime.

    In other words – the best way to prevent an illegal alien from killing someone here is to stop him from entering the country or deport him on sight, even when he didn’t have a criminal record yet. If he had a criminal record in his homeland, well, then he shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the country.

    Of course, no one other than Donald Trump believes we should massively deport undocumented families to prevent future crimes. It’s not feasible. Still, it’s a bad idea for a presidential candidate to say “I won’t deport illegal aliens without a criminal record”, because that would be opening a Pandora’s Box, even if most immigrants are perfectly harmless.

    1. That is a technically true argument. But so is “the best way to reduce crime in black communities is to shoot all black people on sight.”

  10. All I heard was Open Borders. Hillary 2016! Reason Staff.

    1. I can’t wait for the article “The Libertarian Case for her Empressness”.

      1. That sucker is coming. Nick is sooo ready to bask in the coolness of finally endorsing Hillary….

  11. Unavision – aren’t they the guys who ran an investigative report on Fast ‘n Furious when much of the English-speaking press was avoiding the issue?

    It may be necessary to learn Spanish in order to find out what’s *really* going on in the U.S.

  12. But one of the differences between the secretary and I is I’m not quite so aggressive with regard to regime change.


    Also, they had another debate last night?

    1. Well, that, plus, she’s not the secretary of anything anymore.

  13. Question that should be asked of Hillary. Are you going to let the little people ignore the law too? After all there is no law she’s found that is worthy of her following it because of her royal privilege.

  14. Hillary Clinton supports the War on Women who smoke weed.

  15. what we have got here is a case of overclassification failure to communicate.


  16. So when Trump says he wants to deport illegal immigrants he’s called an authoritarian and a racist, but Obama has been deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace and we hear nothing but crickets? Perhaps the Reason staff should stop their Trump hate circle jerk and actually do some in-depth analysis of his campaign and his supporters.

  17. After watching the GOP debate, the most surprising thing about the Dem debate was the discussion of issues every step of the way. Rather than, you know, size of hands and such.

    1. Yes, that is surprising but not very encouraging. The solutions offered are pure horseshit.
      I’m hoping for gridlock.

  18. Oh, yay, neocon Clinton red baits socialist Sanders about Cuba.

    I look into it…and he seems to be arguing for nonintervention, with a dose of socialism thrown in.

    “It’s the same thing, you know, they never learn. You may recall way back in???when was it???1961, they invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world???that all the Cuban people were gonna to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave them healthcare, totally transformed their society???you know, not to say that Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect???they certainly are not. But just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people, does not mean to say that people in their own nations feel the same way. So, they expected this tremendous uprising in Cuba???it never came, and if they are expecting a tremendous uprising in Nicaragua, they are very, very, very mistaken”

  19. Bernie Sanders campaign whines about Clinton cheating in democrat debate.

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

    OMG! Rules violation! She cheated! It undermines democracy!

  20. problematic:

    A corporate-academic weasel word used mainly by people who sense that something may be oppressive, but don’t want to do any actual thinking about what the problem is or why it exists. Also frequently used in progressive political settings among White People of a Certain Education to avoid using herd-frightening words like “racist” or “sexist.”

  21. The fact that a given person is holding or seeking high-level public office is, in and of itself, proof that said person is morally and/or psychologically UNFIT to hold public office.
    So? Paul Ryan.

    Yeeaah. You know how you coulda seen YEARS IN ADVANCE the fact that Paul Ryan is a lying psychopath who would gleefully assrape his own grandmother, or an entire planet of grandmothers, for a nickel?

    The Barnhardt Axiom.

    You realize this applies every bit as strongly to Trump too, right? Tell me you are not so stupid as to believe for one second that Trump would actually do ANY of the things he is talking about. He’s just smart enough to know what y’all want to hear, and is saying it. You know how I know that Trump will never follow through on anything he is saying?


    Remember, the only thing that actually WANTS to be in a cesspit is a PIECE OF CRAP.…..axiom-yet/

  22. “I did not send or receive any emails marked classified at the time.”

    This is more true than,”I did not have sex with that woman.”

    Classified materials are marked Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret. They are never marked “Classified.”

    She’s still a pathological liar guilty of violating the Espionage Act and in a country with leaders that had an ounce of respect for the rule of law, she’d already have been indicted, tried and serving a prison sentence. But that’s not the country we live in.

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