CHICAGO -- Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who’s complained about having “the kitchen sink” thrown at him, unloaded on Hillary Clinton here Thursday night, ticking off a series of issues on which he said the former secretary of state had taken the wrong position.
The Vermont senator attacked Clinton for having accepted campaign contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street interests. And then he sharply criticized her support, as first lady and as a New York senator, of welfare reform, free trade, an anti-gay rights bill and the Iraq War — all measures he opposed during his long career in Congress.
The broadside came amid a speech to a raucous crowd of more than 6,500 people packed into a basketball arena at Chicago State University, part of a whirlwind tour in recent days of states with primaries and caucuses next month.
Though none of the critiques leveled by Sanders were new, his remarks were striking for both their length -- until recently he often didn’t mention Clinton at all at his rallies -- and his tone. At a few points, the audience booed Clinton and the stances she’s taken.
“I do not receive many millions of dollars from Wall Street or the pharmaceutical industry or other powerful, wealthy interests in this country, and have not given speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars to Wall Street,” Sanders said, referring to money Clinton received between stepping down as secretary of state and launching her presidential bid.
In the wake of his loss to Clinton in the Nevada caucuses, Sanders vowed he would be more aggressive in detailing the policy differences between the two, a posture he said doesn’t violate his long-standing practice of running positive, issue-oriented campaigns.
Several of the differences Sanders cited were over legislation that advanced during the years that Bill Clinton was in the White House.
As he did earlier this week, Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s support of a welfare reform bill signed by her husband in 1996 that Sanders said “beat up on minorities and poor people.”
He also criticized the Clintons’ support of legislation the same year known as the Defense of Marriage Act that ensured that states did not have to recognize gay nuptials performed in other states. Sanders called that “a homophobic piece of legislation.”
“Secretary Clinton supported it,” Sanders said.
He was also critical of the Clintons’ support in the 1990s of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other pacts, which Sanders argues have cost manufacturing jobs.
And he took aim at Clinton’s vote in 2002 of a resolution authorizing the war with Iraq. Clinton was a senator representing New York at the time. She has since called the vote a mistake.
Sanders said he saw through misrepresentations made by Bush administration officials to justify the war.
“I didn’t believe them. I voted against the war,” he said. “My opponent, Secretary Clinton, voted for the war.”