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Live updates: Democratic presidential debate

October 14, 2015

(From left) Former Virginia senator Jim Webb, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. EPA / Josh Haner

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), faced off Tuesday night alongside three long-shot candidates: former senator Jim Webb of Virginia, a former senator and governor, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

  • Terri Rupar
  • ·

Glenn Kessler and Michelle Lee have rounded up fact-checks of candidates’ statements and have a list of 12 suspicious or interesting claims:

“The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House.”

— Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Clinton draws this claim from a 2014 paper by Alan S. Blinder and Mark W. Watson of Princeton University, which did indeed find this connection. But the conclusion also said that the data at this point did not support a claim that this was due to macroeconomic policy choices.

“African American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent.”

— Sanders

This is a favorite talking point of Sanders’s, and he often clarifies that he is referring to the “real unemployment.” But in his opening statement, he exaggerated this talking point with misleading wording. Sanders is not referring to actual unemployment rates, but the broadest measure of underemployment.

Sanders’s figures come from a report by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. (Our friends at PolitiFact and have fact-checked this claim, and Sanders’s staff has pointed to this report.) The report shows that minority youths are less likely to have a job than white youths, and that black youths traditionally have had high unemployment rates.

Sanders’s statistics refer to high school graduates between 17 and 20 years old and not enrolled in additional schooling. This report is different from the official unemployment rate as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS does not specifically break out data for the 17- to 20-year-old age range. Instead, this report looks at employment status for high school graduates who are unemployed, working part-time and “marginally attached to the labor force” (meaning, “those who want a job and have looked for work in the last year but have given up actively seeking work in the last four weeks”). It uses the broadest measure of underemployment, called the U-6 measure of labor underutilization.

“The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House.”

— Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Clinton draws this claim from a 2014 paper by Alan S. Blinder and Mark W. Watson of Princeton University, which did indeed find this connection. But the conclusion also said that the data at this point did not support a claim that this was due to macroeconomic policy choices.

“Both fiscal and monetary policy actions seem to be a bit more stabilizing when a Republican is president — even though Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Democrats preside over faster growth than Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Republicans by a wide margin,” the paper said. “It seems we must look instead to several variables that are mostly “good luck,” with perhaps a touch of “good policy.”

Read more here.

  • Katie Zezima
  • ·

Hillary Clinton has tried to move past the issue of using private e-mail while secretary of state, and rival Bernie Sanders gave her a big boost in that direction during Tuesday’s debate. But the controversy is not going away any time soon.

“Let me say something that may not be great politics – but I think the secretary is right. That is, the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” Sanders said in one of the most memorable lines of the night.

“Me, too,” Clinton responded, and the two shook hands.

But the issue will continue to dog Clinton. Read more here.

  • Terri Rupar
  • ·

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza wraps up the debate, looking at the best and worst from the Las Vegas strip.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Denmark are among the winners, while countdown clocks are among the losers. Read more here.

  • Katie Zezima
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | Hillary Clinton didn’t put a lot of space between herself and President Obama.

Clinton repeatedly recalled how she and Obama hounded the Chinese delegation at the 2009 United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to broker a deal on climate change.

“President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese because we knew we had to get them to agree with something,” she said.

It was one of a number of issues on which the former secretary of state aligned herself with the president.

When asked how she would differentiate her potential presidency from that of Obama, she didn’t go very far.

“I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama,” she said. When asked if there would be policy differences she said:

“Well, there’s a lot that I would like to do to build on the successes of President Obama, but also, as I’m laying out, to go beyond.”

When asked what she would do for African-Americans that President Obama hasn’t, Clinton looked toward Republicans as a foil.

“I think that President Obama has been a great moral leader on these issues, and has laid out an agenda that has been obstructed by the Republicans at every turn,” she said.

Clinton said that the criminal justice system needs to be reformed, and that “the recommendations of the commissioner that President Obama empanelled on policing” need to be followed.

And Obama, she said, appreciated her counsel.

“He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the situation room going over some very difficult issues,” she said, noting that she was one of the “few advisers” when he made decisions on the raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound and the coalition to impose sanctions on Iran.

  • James Hohmann
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | This map from our analytics partners at Zignal Labs shows how Twitter exploded with Bernie Sanders mentions after he answered a question about whether or not he is a socialist. Within 10 minutes, Sanders went from owning about one-third of the Twitter conversation vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton to capturing 62 percent.


  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | The candidates were asked Tuesday which enemy they were the most proud of having. Most picked political enemies — the National Rifle Association, drug companies, etc. But Jim Webb picked an actual enemy: A soldier whom he killed in Vietnam, for which he was awarded the Navy Cross.

And his apparent pleasure at surviving the encounter seems to remain 46 years later:

  • Ishaan Tharoor
  • ·

Here’s a small corrective to Webb’s grandstanding over India and China as the “world’s worst polluters,” home to some of the world’s most smoke-clad cities. It’s simply not fair to pin the blame on these countries, given the size of their populations, as you can see in the graph below:

Of course, India and China are faced with huge questions over how to manage and grow their economies in a sustainable fashion. They don’t have the luxury of industrializing in the wanton way that the West did a century ago. And, yes, China is in terms of raw numbers now the world’s biggest carbon emitter.

But officials in both countries have an easy riposte for Western politicians on climate change: the onus for reform is still on you.

  • Karoun Demirjian
  • ·

ON THE ISSUES | On presidential debate stages this year, as in Congress, the politics around the Iran deal have largely split along party lines.

But just as in Congress, there was some opposition to Obama’s historic multilateral deal from a member of his own party Tuesday night.

Jim Webb, in fourth place among the five candidates debating, was not subtle about how bad he thinks the Iran deal was – and how much he thinks that deal contributes to the mess in the Middle East.

The Iran deal “sent a bad signal, bad body language into the region about whether we are acquiescing,” Webb said, arguing that the conclusion of the Iran deal is one of the three big reasons why Russia is operating in Syria right now.

Webb went public with his criticism of the Iran deal a few months ago, while Congress was just starting to debate the newly-inked deal.

But his skepticism appears to have deepened. When given a second opportunity, Webb did not back down from his assertion that the Iran deal had made the region a more troublesome and dangerous place.

“I believe that the signal we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded is that we are accepting Iran’s greater position in this very important balance of power,” Webb argued. “It was a position of weakness and I think it encouraged the acts that we’ve seen.”

  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·

Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post

ON THE ISSUES | On the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Hillary Clinton has adopted positions widely shared by the Democratic base.

But on another issue Tuesday — marijuana legalization — Clinton refrained from taking another position widely favored by Democratic voters.

Sanders was asked whether he would support a legalization referendum likely to be on the 2016 ballot in Nevada. “I think that I would,” he said.

Clinton would not go there and stuck to her previous statements that she wants to see the results of legalization in Colorado and Washington. But she reiterated her support for medical marijuana laws and seemed to endorse broader decriminalization efforts: “We have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana.”

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Glenn Kessler
  • ·

“The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House.”


THE FACT CHECKER | Clinton draws this claim from a 2014 paper by Alan S. Blinder and Mark W. Watson of Princeton University, which did indeed find this connection. But the conclusion also said that the data at this point did not support a claim that this was due to macroeconomic policy choices.

“Both fiscal and monetary policy actions seem to be a bit more stabilizing when a Republican is president—even though Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Democrats preside over faster growth than Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Republicans by a wide margin,” the paper said. “It seems we must look instead to several variables that are mostly “good luck,” with perhaps a touch of “good policy.”

  • Peyton M. Craighill
  • ·

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

BY THE NUMBERS | The answer is no, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from January. Sixty-two percent said the fact that Hillary Clinton’s husband served as president in the 1990s would make no difference in their vote for president this year. For those who say it would matter in their vote, 23 percent said it would make them more likely to support her and 14 percent said less likely.

  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | A question on how each candidate would be different from President Obama quickly sized up the ideological breadth of the Democratic field.

“I believe the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things the middle class and the working class desperately need is through a political revolution, when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say the government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires,” said Sanders.

Webb quipped: “I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Sen. Sanders, but: Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come, and I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff.”

The exchange illuminated not only the ideological differences between those two candidates, but also the distinction between campaigning in poetry versus prose: Where Sanders called for a revolution, Webb said he’d do more to stake out the limits of executive power vis-a-vis Congress.

  • Katie Zezima
  • ·

ON THE ISSUES | Sen. Bernie Sanders said that he would completely end the NSA’s bulk phone data collection system.

“Absolutely, of course,” he said. “I would shut down what exists right now… every telephone call in this country ends up in a file in the NSA, that is not acceptable to me,” he said.

The candidates were then asked if they would bring Edward Snowden home or prosecute him.

Lincoln Chafee said he would bring him home. Clinton, O’Malley and Sanders said he broke the law. Clinton and O’Malley both said that he could have come out as a whistle-blower.

“Whistle-blowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin,” O’Malley said.

Sanders said that Snowden “played a very important role in educating the American people” but he broke the law.

  • Paul Farhi
  • ·

Some prominent tweeters responded negatively to what they viewed as the secondary, and arguably subservient, role of Anderson Cooper’s co-moderators Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Juan Carlos Lopez.

  • Michelle Ye Hee Lee
  • ·

Host Anderson Cooper: Do you want to shield gun companies from lawsuits?

Sanders: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don’t.

THE FACT CHECKER |The law Sanders is referring to, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, does more than protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits if a murderer uses their gun to kill someone.

The law gives broad protections to gun manufacturers, including for negligence, and can protect them from being sued in certain types of claims relating to the gun’s design. Few industries have federal liability immunity like this. (Vaccine manufacturers have limited protection from lawsuits if their vaccine led to an injury. The airline industry is immune from lawsuits arising from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. But unlike the gun law, both cases established a compensation scheme for victims to recover money for damages.)

The law allows victims to sue if there was a design defect or a malfunction with a gun, but there have been exceptions. Notably, the Illinois Supreme Court in 2009 cited this law in dismissing a case where a young boy who was playing with his father’s gun accidentally shot and killed his friend. The victim’s family sued the gun manufacturer, saying the gun did not have proper safety features or proper warnings. But the court found the plaintiffs did not fit the technical definition in the law and dismissed the suit.

  • Glenn Kessler
  • ·

“We have 27 million people living in poverty.”


THE FACT CHECKER | Sanders greatly underplays the number here. It is actually 46.7 million people, as of 2014, according to the Census Bureau. In fact, he often says we have more people living in poverty today than almost any time in the modern history of this country”—which earned him a couple of Pinocchios because numbers were likely higher in the Great Depression.

One presumes Sanders misspoke in the debate.

  • Tom Hamburger
  • ·

A picture shows the damage inside the U.S. consulate building in Benghazi on Sept. 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on Sept. 11. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages

Hillary Clinton won ringing support — including some from Sen. Bernie Sanders — for her criticism Tuesday of the congressional panel investigating the attack on the U.S. outposts in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the death of  U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

The former secretary of state is due to testify before the House Special Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22. But she  called the panel out as “basically an arm of the Republican National Committee” in part because of its intense focus on the role she and top aides played in the tragedy.

She cited the recent public comments of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who told Fox News that the committee’s work  resulted in a plunging poll ratings for Clinton. In addition, a former GOP  staffer for the committee said over the weekend the panel was obsessively focused on Clinton’s role rather than examining all of the players involved in the tragedy.

The whistleblower’s record and sincerity was questioned by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), but lawyers for the former intelligence analyst, a self-described Republican conservative, rejected the complaints.

“This committee spent $4.5 million in taxpayer money,” on a politically charged inquiry, Clinton said, adding: “But I am still standing,”

When applause for her comments faded, Sanders spoke up:

“I think the Secretary of State is right. The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. . . Let’s talk about the issues facing America.”

  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·

ON THE ISSUES | One the biggest cleavages in the Democratic primary contest is so arcane that Anderson Cooper felt the need to explain it to CNN’s viewers Tuesday.

“Glass-Steagall” is a federal law that for decades prohibited a single company from engaging in both speculative investment banking and standard commercial lending. Its repeal in 1999, during President Bill Clinton’s administration, is widely cited as a contributing factor to the 2008 economic crisis.

And Martin O’Malley was the first to mention it Tuesday — prompting Cooper’s explanation “for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this.”

O’Malley and Sanders support the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; Clinton does not. She has proposed a different set of banking reforms that would stop short of reinstituting the firewall.

Where O’Malley and Sanders sought to play up Glass-Steagall as a progressive litmus test, Clinton sought to play it down, focusing on the threats of “shadow banking” outfits that are not covered under the old law, saying she was focused on “not what caused the problem last time, but what could cause it next time.”

“If you’re only looking at the big banks,” Clinton said, “you may be missing the forest for the trees.”

Her rivals were in so mood for shades of gray.

Said Sanders of the big banks, “We have got to break. Them. Up.”

O’Malley responded: “You are not for Glass-Steagall. You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky, shadow banking behavior. I am.”

  • Ishaan Tharoor
  • ·

strong>ON THE ISSUES | That’s what Bernie Sanders called Syria. It’s a pretty accurate summation of the crisis facing the war-torn nation, which is now in the fifth year of a hideous, bloody civil war that has claimed more than 300,000 Syrian lives and displaced half the country’s population.

There are no clear nor easy options to end the conflict. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost control of vast tracts of the country, but remains stubbornly entrenched in a few of Syria’s major cities and its western coastal areas. A smorgasbord of rebel factions, some more unsavory than others, has been jockeying for turf, influence and arms.

Here’s an earlier map we ran when Russia began its air war in Syria last month:


The conflict has taken a deadly sectarian character, which is almost certainly exacerbated by outside intervention — be it through Shiite proxies tied to Iran, Russian military support or the steady pipeline of Sunni Arab and Gulf state aid to certain rebel groups operating in Syria.

Looking at this conflagration — this quagmire in a quagmire — Sanders suggested Russia’s intervention may prove a strategic blunder. That’s an argument I spelled out earlier on WorldViews:

The consensus among experts is that the Russian escalation is less the outcome of a concerted strategy than it is, more simply, an opportunistic gamble. The Post’s Anne Appelbaum explains what may be shaping the Kremlin’s calculus.

For Putin’s entry into Syria, like almost everything else that he does, is part of his own bid to stay in power. During the first 10 years he was president, Putin’s claim to legitimacy went, in effect, like this: I may not be a democrat, but I give you stability, a rise in economic growth and pensions paid on time. In an era of falling oil prices and economic sanctions, not to mention vast public-sector corruption, that argument no longer works… And so his new argument goes, in effect, like this: “I may not be a democrat and the economy may be sinking, but Russia is regaining its place in the world — and besides, the alternative to authoritarianism is not democracy but chaos.”

Putin’s boldness, in other words, is a fig leaf for a regime that’s already in dangerous risk of over-reach. According to a recent poll, a minority of Russians back the intervention, while a considerable majority were “opposed or strongly opposed.”

Read more:

The many holy wars splitting Syria

Why Russia’s Syria war may not be bad news for the U.S.

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