The Democratic Debate Winner Is The Candidate Who Knew Flint Would Be A Crucial Location To Win Over
It was a very busy weekend for presidential hopefuls on the left. The Democratic party had primaries and caucuses on both Saturday and Sunday as well as a debate held at the University of Michigan in Flint. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went head-to-head in a heated event that saw perhaps the most detailed questions about the water contamination crisis plaguing the city of Flint. Issues of income inequality and government neglect were frequently touched upon. Unlike the GOP debate held in Detroit mere days prior, both candidates were given ample questions and time to address these hot button issues. The winner of the Democratic debate was the person who requested that the event be held in Flint in the first place, however.
Sanders was riding high off a big win in Kansas as well as narrowly beating Clinton in Nebraska on Saturday. The former Secretary of State handily bested Sanders in Louisiana. Results from Maine's Democratic Caucus were expected to be revealed shortly after the debate had kicked off, though Sanders winning the Pine Tree State had little effect over the event itself. The debate marks the first for the Democrats following Super Tuesday. The back and forth between candidates certainly reflected the way that the two seem to be trading states during key primary and caucus events. However, it was ultimately Hillary Clinton who came out on top.
Clinton was fairly consistent in her answers when it came to calling for increased action and investigation into the contamination crisis that has left Flint without drinkable water. When pressed about only recently calling for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's resignation, the former Secretary of State doubled down on her response. She stated that no official — no matter how lofty their position may be — is exempt if they are indeed culpable. The front-runner's dedication to accountability has extended far beyond the state of Michigan, however.
Surprisingly, Clinton stands as the only candidate who has consistently named victims of police brutality and systemic racism in calling for a change to the current policies that have set about such inequalities. In a racially charged debate in which the issue of discrimination was discussed explicitly, Clinton shined in acknowledging the major disparity between people of color and white Americans. The candidate cited the cases of Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin, touching upon their tragic deaths to acknowledge her own racial blind spots.
There were moments in the debate when the two candidates squared off less on the issues and more on each other's voting records. Within those moments, came a handful of instances in which Sanders appeared to shush Clinton or react especially emotionally. Clinton certainly threw some of her own audible and nonverbal shade but the candidate did maintain a united front with Sanders. She even went so far as to help prompt Sanders on a question, reminding him that the legislation in question was about gun control rather than bank regulations.
This isn't to say that Sanders had a weak performance — far from it. The debate served as more of a reminder for the Vermont senator to address the apparent lack of support he's seen from underserved communities as well as people of color. The fact that Clinton has been so consistently dedicated to addressing the Flint water crisis as well as police brutality was ultimately what enabled her to shine on the debate stage at the University of Michigan.