In their most testy and substantive debate yet, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders argued Thursday night over the heart of Sanders' critique of her candidacy—that you cannot be a progressive reformer if you're too close to the wealthiest Americans.
"I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out," Clinton said, drawing boos from the New Hampshire crowd.
It was the most intense #DemDebate so far... but who won? https://t.co/YQU1zlBnlO https://t.co/A4og4mRQWW— Bloomberg (@Bloomberg)1454680847.0
"You know, there is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system," he replied moments later. "And in my view, it is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country."
The last debate before Tuesday's New Hampshire’s primary was filled with barbs and sparks. Sanders is leading in polls by an average of nearly 20 percent, putting pressure on Clinton to close that gap if she cannot win. She presented many forceful but poised lines of attack, injecting details suggesting she knows better than Sanders how to get government to work. He did not respond with personal attacks, but repeatedly said the problems were deeper and solutions broader than she was offering.
Clinton’s opening remarks chided Sanders for taking too narrow a view of the inequality in America, saying it wasn’t just a rigged economy and a corrupt political system, but also “the continuing challenges of racism, of sexism, of discrimination against the LGBT community, of the way that we treat people as opposed to how we want to be treated ... and I’m not making promises that I cannot keep.”
From that moment on, with some exceptions, what unfolded was a feisty display of how they really think differently about problems and solutions. Clinton was immediately asked about her comments to a New Hampshire newspaper that many of Sanders' ideas were not achievable, like creating a Medicare-for-all healthcare system. "I've been fighting for universal healthcare for many years and we're now on the path to achieving it," she said. "I don't want us to start over again."
“Here is the issue,” Sanders countered in a typical reply. “Every major country on Earth, whether it’s the UK, whether it’s France, whether it’s Canada, has managed to provide healthcare to all people as a right and they are spending significantly less per capita on health care than we are. So I do not accept the belief that the United States of America can’t do that.” He said that was also true of cutting prescription drug costs, making public colleges and universities tuition-free and building on Obamacare to evolve into a Medicare-for-all system. “I do believe that in the future, not by dismantling what we have here—I helped write that bill [Obamacare]—but by moving forward, rallying the American people, I do believe we should have health care for all,” he said.
When MSNBC’s moderators asked Clinton if some of her past stances such as voting as a senator for the invasion of Iraq or being pro-death penalty in some cases or not taking positions on global trade deals or the Keystone XL pipeline showed she was “too far to the right,” she doubled down with portraying herself as a progressive.
“I am a progressive who gets things done,” she said. “And the root of that word, progressive, is progress. But I've heard Senator Sanders comments and it's really caused me to wonder who's left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Under his definition, President Obama is not progressive because he took donations from Wall Street; Vice President Biden is not progressive because she supported Keystone … But if we're going to get into labels, I don't think it was particularly progressive to vote against the [gun control] Brady Bill five times.”
When Sanders turn came, he said that his to-do list was neither unrealistic nor radical. But the way he presented it showed that his frame for the problems and solutions was that of an outsider who’s been watching the wheels of power, money and influence grind for years—and he was not content to gloss real obstacles to change.
“Here’s the reality of American economic life today,” he began, saying voter turnout has fallen as government has allowed “trillions of dollars of wealth going from the middle class in the last 30 years to the top 1/10th of 1 percent. The reality is we that have a corrupt campaign finance system, which separates the American people’s needs and desires from what Congress is doing. So to my mind, what we have got to do is wage a political revolution where millions of people have given up on the political process, stand up and fight back, demand the government represent us and not just a handful of campaign contributors.”
What Twitter’s Smartest conservatives and liberals are saying about the #DemDebate: https://t.co/qqbAi1Zqrs— Slate (@Slate)1454638858.0
That contrast—Sanders talking the deep big picture; Clinton saying details and execution matter—set the stage for the debate’s most telling exchange, where Clinton defended her relationships in the political establishment and speeches to corporate America. She said Sanders’ ads accusing of guilt-by-association with Wall Street were “smears” relying on “innuendo” and “insinuation.”
“There is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to—you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought,” Clinton said. “And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. And I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly. But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received ... Let's talk about the issues.”
“Let's talk—let's talk about issues, all right?” Sanders tartly replied. “Let's talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided—spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions? Well, some people might think, yeah, that had some influence.”
“Let's talk about climate change,” he continued. “Do you think there's a reason why not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real and that we need to transform our energy system? Do you think it has anything to do with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil pouring huge amounts of money into the political system? That is what goes on in America.”
Clinton countered that she knew far better than Sanders what it was to be mercilessly attacked by Republicans and what it took to keep going until some progress was made. She said she knew all of the GOP’s dirty tricks and strategies and how to outsmart them to get solutions that made a difference in people’s lives.
“I don't think you could find any person in political life today who has been subjected to more attacks and had more money spent against her by special interests, among whom you have named a few, than I,” she said, listing attacks on her healthcare reform while she was First Lady and more recent attacks on the loss of U.S. diplomats in Libya and the use of a private e-mail server.
“Today, you've got hedge fund billionaires aligned with Karl Rove, running ads against me to try to get Democrats to vote for you. I know this game. I'm going to stop this game,” Clinton said. “What we've got to do as Democrats is to be united to actually solve these problems. And what I believe is that I have a better track record and a better opportunity to actually get that job done.”
When the moderator asked Sanders to reply to Clinton’s charge that his campaign was tarring her for ties to Wall Street—accepting six-figure speaking fees from companies that were later fined billions for harming multitudes of investors and the economy—he didn’t directly hit back, but essentially said she was mingling with unindicted criminals.
“This is what a rigged economy and a corrupt campaign finance system and a broken criminal justice is about,” Sanders said. “These guys are so powerful that not one of the executives on Wall Street has been charged with anything after paying, in this case of Goldman Sachs, a $5 billion fine. [A] kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record. A Wall Street executive destroys the economy, $5 billion settlement with the government, no criminal record. That is what power is about. That is what corruption is about. And that is what has to change in the United States of America.”
Clinton wouldn’t let it go, countering, “Let me just say that of course it has to change. It has to change. And that's why I have put forward a plan to do just that. And it's been judged to be the toughest, most effective and comprehensive one.” She added that if president, she would use the laws on the books to not just go after banks, but also drug companies, big oil, big energy and others. “I have a record of trying to go at the problems that actually exist and I will continue to do that,” she said.
And so it went, with Clinton citing chapter, verse and her experience and Sanders drawing the bigger picture, reframing government’s role and calling for millions of supporters to demand Congress represent them before narrow economic interests.
The debate closed with the moderators asking Clinton if she were the nominee, would she “unify the party” by picking Sanders as a running mate—and the same of Sanders. Both scoffed and said it was far too early to answer. But they didn’t say no, either.
“If I'm so fortunate as to be the nominee, the first person I will call to talk to about where we go and how we get it done will be Sen. Sanders,” Clinton said.
"On our worst day... We are one hundred times better than any Republican candidate" -@BernieSanders #DemDebate https://t.co/ugZseAbwNK— Mashable (@Mashable)1454645424.0
“I agree with what the secretary said. We shouldn't be getting ahead of ourselves,” Sanders said. “I happen to respect the secretary very much, I hope it’s mutual. And on our worst days, I think it is fair to say we are 100 times better than any Republican candidate.”
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
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