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Prominent Democrats Weigh In on Bernie Sanders Calling Hillary Clinton's 'Superpredator' Comment Racist

Andrew Cuomo, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hakeem Jeffries, and others spoke with Reason at tonight's Democratic debate in Brooklyn.

Tonight's Democratic presidential debate No sleep, til spin room!Anthony L. Fisherat the Brooklyn Navy Yard featured former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) engaged in some particularly contentious sparring over a number of issues, including Sanders' recent attack on Clinton over her use of the term "superpredators" when supporting the 1994 crime bill. 

Sanders told a CNN moderator that "it was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term," which drew applause from the audience.

The Clinton campaign has made no secret of its displeasure with what they perceive as Sanders' increasingly negative "tone," and even threatened to pull out of tonight's debate over it.

Following the debate, I asked DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fl.), as well as high-profile Clinton supporters Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whether they thought Sanders' assessment of the term "superpredator" as racist amounted to crossing the line into an unacceptable intra-party attack. 

Notorious DWSAnthony L. FisherWasserman Schultz said that "the sharpness of tone" was to be expected as the primary process nears its conclusion, but that "we shouldn't focus on the edginess, we should focus on the substance of the debate, which I'm quite proud of."

Cuomo brushed off Sanders' attack on Clinton. "This is New York," he said, "I thought it was a strong debate with strong language, but I don't think anyone stepped over a line."

Jeffries, however, was quite willing to say he thought some of Sanders' criticism of Clinton was "unfair."  

"I don't think anyone who is familiar with Hillary Clinton's career can accuse her of being racist," Jeffries said, adding, "It's a ridiculous assertion to even suggest that Secretary Clinton would use a term that would be racially offensive to anyone."Rep. Hakeem JeffriesAnthony L. Fisher

Prior to the debate, Rep. David Bowen, Vice Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and one of the few superdelegates who has pledged his support for Sanders, told me he thinks "both campaigns have been pushed and pressured to attack each other."

I asked Bowen if an issue like foreign policy, one of the few areas where a profound schism exists between the two candidates, is worthy of contentious debate. After all, Clinton has repeatedly implied that Sanders can't hold a candle to her foreign policy experience.

"Bernie has experience on foreign policy," Bowen replied. "His actions speak louder than words, like opposing the Iraq War. You could consider Bernie the 'peace president.' He believes in not using force unless it's very, very necessary."

"This is NY."Anthony L. FisherTad Devine, a former adviser to Al Gore and John Kerry's presidential campaigns and now a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, offered platitudes, saying it's important for the Sanders camp to remain "hopeful, positive, foward-looking" and not attack Clinton harshly.

Both candidates continued their standing practice of avoiding the spin room, and though their respective surrogates and ostensibly neutral party leaders did their best to accentuate the positive vibes, tonight's punchy debate demonstrated the ever-widening gulf between the two camps. 

Photo Credit: Anthony L. Fisher

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  • Los Doyers||

    New Yawk values

  • plusafdotcom||

  • Shit Pyrate||

    Two turds arguing over who rules the turd bowl.

  • Jerryskids||

    "I don't think anyone who is familiar with Hillary Clinton's career can accuse her of being racist." Jeffries added, "It's a ridiculous assertion to even suggest that Secretary Clinton would use a term that would be racially offensive to anyone."

    Who's this cracker claiming that all white people aren't racist?

  • straffinrun||

    Dog whistles don't work on Black Labs and confuse the fuck out of Dalmatians.

  • straffinrun||

    You could consider Bernie the 'peace president.' He believes in not using force unless it's very, very necessary."

    Yeah! Under President Bernie taxes will be voluntary!

  • Shit Pyrate||

    YAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =D

  • AlmightyJB||

    She's a super freak, super freak
    She's super-freaky, yow

  • EntropicApathy||

    When I hear the word superpredator I think of t-rexes and megalodons, not black people. Am I missing something?

  • C. Anacreon||

    C'mon, "it was a racist term and every dinosaur knew it was a racist term."

  • AlmightyJB||

    T-Rex needs safe space

  • AlmightyJB||

    Liberals think of black people when they hear that term. That's the take away.

  • Princess Trigger||

    They have the same reaction to Orcs.

  • Mickey Rat||

    It is dogs that hear dog whistles.

  • Mr Lizard||

    I got your superpredator right here...

  • Brian||

    Great white.

  • mr simple||

    Is it weird that I thought of a large, dreadlocked alien hunter with light bending armor and infrared vision?

  • Glide||

    I thought of the same, but with a cape, x-ray vision and the ability to fly.

    Admit it, we'd all watch that movie.

  • lap83||

    If that alien hunter is black... Omg racist. But if he's white, cultural appropriation!

  • buybuydandavis||

    "I don't think anyone who is familiar with Hillary Clinton's career can fail to accuse her of being racist,"

    The Clintons have always always always played the race card against blacks. When in doubt, find blacks to whip in the public square. Slick Willie was just doing it with BLM. They just can't stop themselves.

  • B. Woodrow Chippenhaus||

    Cuomo brushed off Sanders' attack on Clinton. "This is New York," he said, "I thought it was a strong debate with strong language, but I don't think anyone stepped over a line because none of us are Republicans."

    Meanwhile, the list of terms that are undeniably racist when coming from someone on the right grows hourly.

  • ||

    You could consider Bernie the 'peace president.' He believes in not using force unless it's very, very necessary."

    Like when someone is making a profit.

  • plusafdotcom||

  • bacchys||

    Given she's not above pointing fingers and shouting "racist," she's not getting a bum rap on this. She's being hoist by her own petard.

  • plusafdotcom||

  • Haha, charade you are||

    "You could consider Bernie the 'peace president.' He believes in not using force unless it's very, very necessary."

    I hear the Gulag is nice this time of year.

  • Hidebehindyourcause||

    I don't hate Bernie the same way that I hate Hillary, but it's funny that his supporters think that voting against the Iraq war makes someone experienced in foreign policy.

    As far as racism goes, the Democrats are full of that. The way that they lie and pander to minorities to keep them addicted to government is more or less slavery.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The trick to coercing is to keep the suckers focused on personalities. That way nobody reads the party platform. Today's Dilbert blog compares the rigged primaries and superdelegate system with the Iranian Islamic State.

  • woodrow||

    I finallay figured out why the NBA became so heavily tatted. It started with Allen Iverson in the late nineties. He was mimicking Tupac. Iverson had a rough upbringing. He went to jail in high school for a bowling alley brawl. His sentence was extreme for the charges. He had to get a pardon from the govenor to get out of jail. The Jesuits at Georgetown were the only ones who gave him a chance.

    Fast forward ten years later. JJ Redick now has a tatoo sleave. The first NBA player in Duke history to even get a tattoo. He gets a sleave. No Duke player before has ever gotten a tatoo. This means racism is slowly breaking down.

  • woodrow||

    i always hatet it.

  • woodrow||

    Now that i view it as a big f u to white society i can appreciate it more for the genius

  • woodrow||

    if u wanna see an extreeme example of a white dude saying fuck u google chris anderson "the birdman:"

  • Mauser||

    I say unleash the hounds Bernie, I don't agree with or like both candidates policies but it sure is awesome seeing Bern make Hillary squirm.

  • Hank Phillips||

    You were expecting maybe honor among looters?

  • bacchys||

    Some of Clinton's best friends are black...

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  • Rockabilly||

    You know what's racist?

    Obama's racist war on drugs.

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  • nitesh||

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