Foreign policy was the primary focus of Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fielded tough questions on the night following the terrorist attack in Paris, NBC reports.
Clinton has more foreign policy experience than rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Yet Clinton “was knocked off her game” early in the debate by having to defend comments she made as secretary of state and the foreign policy she pursued for the Obama administration, according to NBC.
At the same time, O’Malley and Sanders struggled to find solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East, NBC noted.
The questioning moved on to a topic that’s at the core of Sanders’ campaign: Wall Street’s influence on public policy.
Sanders said: “I have never heard a candidate who has received huge amounts of money from oil, from coal, from Wall Street, from the military-industrial complex, not one candidate say: ‘Oh, these campaign contributions will not influence me. I’m going to be independent.’ Well, why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.”
That criticism was directed at Clinton, who immediately defended herself. The former U.S. senator from New York said that she represented the state on 9/11 when terrorists attacked lower Manhattan—where Wall Street is located.
“I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild,” she said. “That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”
Clinton fired back at her main rival on gun control. Pointing to Sanders’ vote on gun legislation, she said, “That was a terrible mistake. It basically gave the gun lobby even more power to intimidate legislators, not just in Washington but across the country.”
Sanders and Clinton agreed to move past her email scandal. Last night the senator reiterated his position from the first debate: “I was sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s email. I am still sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s emails.”
Some observers say that the moderator, John Dickerson, won last night’s debate. Politico praised Dickerson for his “ferret-like journalistic questioning.” And the Daily Beast also gave him high marks, calling his questions “appropriately aggressive” without “condescension, disrespect, or self-righteousness.”
This praise comes in comparison with controversial “gotcha” questions at the Republican debates.
Read more at NBC News.