News / USA

    Democratic Rivals Highlight Need to Focus on Economy, Islamic State

    Democrats Debate IS and Attack Trumpi
    Jim Malone
    December 20, 2015 11:44 AM
    The three Democratic presidential contenders clashed at times over key foreign policy and economic issues Saturday in their third U.S. presidential debate, this one held in the early primary state of New Hampshire. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.
    Chris Hannas

    The Democratic presidential candidates said in their final debate of the year Saturday they are focused on the U.S. economy and defeating the Islamic State group as their top priorities.

    Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said the United States cannot be thought of as the police of the world, and that the fight against Islamic State needs a coalition that includes Russia and Muslim troops from the region.  

    “My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they -- one of the wealthiest countries on Earth -- are going to have to go to war against ISIS.  To tell Qatar that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.”

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also supports a coalition effort, and said there is a need for support from Sunni and Kurdish forces.  She said it would be a strategic mistake to send U.S. ground troops back to the region, as "that's exactly what the militants want to see."

    Watch: Candidates outline different approaches to Syria

    Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate Syria Strategyi
    December 20, 2015 4:30 AM
    The three Democratic presidential candidates outlined their different approaches to Syria during Saturday night's debate. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton staked out the toughest position, calling for a no-fly zone and the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley disagreed on regime change.

    The third candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, highlighted the need to form new alliances for modern threats, and pointed to the work the African Union has done in Somalia.

    Clinton, a frequent target of attacks by Republicans in their debates, called Republican front-runner Donald Trump the "best recruiter" for the Islamic State group.  She said responding to terror threats with "bigotry" is not in the country's best interest.  She said it is important to make sure Muslims do not feel marginalized at a time when the U.S. needs them most and invoked the lessons learned in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

    “One of the best things that was done – and [former President] George W. Bush did this and I give him credit – was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say we’re in this together, you are not our adversary, you are our partners.  And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears."

    She also said there is a need for increased vetting of refugees seeking to enter the United States, while O'Malley said if the refugee crisis gets worse, the United States should be accepting even more.

    Breaking the banks

    Both Sanders and O'Malley advocated breaking up the nation's largest banks, saying they play a negative role in the nation's economy.  Sanders, who prides himself on raising money from individuals instead of large corporate entities, said there is a need to deal with the "recklessness and illegal behavior" on Wall Street and to raise the country's minimum wage.

    Clinton, too, said wages need to rise and that people need to feel like their hard work is being rewarded instead of feeling like the economic system is "rigged."  She also said she wants to build on the success of President Barack Obama's healthcare initiative, but that there is not enough competition or oversight of health insurance companies, and costs have gone up too much.

    Hillary Clinton, right, speaks to Bernie Sanders during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Dec. 19, 2015.
    Hillary Clinton, right, speaks to Bernie Sanders during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Dec. 19, 2015.

    Sanders advocated a universal healthcare system, citing higher per-person costs than places like Britain and France. He also accused drug companies of "bribing" Congress.

    The issue of gun control brought passionate responses from all three candidates, with O'Malley attacking Sanders' record and branding Clinton as inconsistent in her views.

    Clinton said she agrees on the need for common sense gun measures, and that Republicans will not admit a problem even exists.  Sanders said nothing will be accomplished unless there is a consensus, and that he has stood up to the pro-gun lobby.

    Sanders apologizes

    Sanders was asked first to address the breach of a key Clinton voter database by a member of his staff, and apologized to her.  She accepted the apology and said it was important to move forward.  O'Malley, too, said there are bigger issues and the related bickering is the kind of distraction that plagues government.

    Late Friday, Sanders filed a federal lawsuit aimed at forcing the Democratic National Committee to restore its voter database access, which the committee had suspended after Sanders' workers improperly viewed proprietary information belonging to the Clinton campaign.  As the feud erupted, the Sanders' camp acknowledged the breach and called its campaign staffer's role in it "unacceptable."  The staffer was later fired.

    Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the Sanders campaign had conducted 25 searches of proprietary information in a 50-state data base, after a DNC digital firewall separating Clinton and Sanders accounts was breached.  He also accused the Sanders staff of saving the Clinton data.

    US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear on television screens in the media work-room during the Democratic presidential candidates debate.
    US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear on television screens in the media work-room during the Democratic presidential candidates debate.

    However, the DNC later agreed to restore Sanders' access to his campaign's data, after it said the Sanders camp had provided an accounting of how the Clinton information was used and whether it was disposed of.

    The squabble thrust into the open long-standing suspicions expressed by Sanders and his supporters that the national party is unfairly working to support Clinton's candidacy.

    Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver pointed to the party's limited number of debates at low-viewership periods, like Saturday nights, as another example.

    With just six weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the first voting in the presidential candidate selection process, analysts largely agree that Sanders, who trails Clinton by nearly 20 percentage points in voter surveys, must find ways to highlight his goals. But he must do so without antagonizing supporters of Clinton, who is deeply popular across wide sectors of her party.

    Supporters for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley rally outside the debate hall before the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
    Supporters for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley rally outside the debate hall before the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

    Clinton still frontrunner

    Ahead of the debate in the northeastern state of New Hampshire, national polls indicate Clinton leads Sanders by more than 20 points, with a slightly smaller margin in Iowa where voters will first have their say in the race on February 1.  Sanders had a small lead in polls in New Hampshire, which votes February 9.  O'Malley has single-digit support in all of the polls.

    Sanders most likely needs a win in both states to mount a serious challenge to Clinton, who will be heavily favored in the next state contests in Nevada and South Carolina, and in a "Super Tuesday" round of voting in 11 states on March 1.

    "The reality for Sanders is he's only got a couple more shots to change the dynamic of the race," said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. "The only choice he's got is to shake the race up."

    Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: mehdi
    December 21, 2015 2:04 AM
    the 5 + 1 Twelve years Iran under the pretext nuclear bomb boycott. why?
    Read the report
    Pakistan question (nuclear weapons) most terrorism in the world and growing Saudi financial support, but Iran is liable to punishment Why?

    by: Mrs. Q. Fruitbubble from: UK
    December 20, 2015 2:54 PM
    n his book “The WikiLeaks Files,” Julian Assange writes that the United States had planned to overthrow Syria long before the 2011 uprising and current proxy war against the government of Bashar al-Assad.
    A chapter in the book references a 2006 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, William Roebuck, which discusses a plan to force the Syrian government to overreact to perceived threats as the orchestrated Arab Spring unfolded.
    Assange writes:
    That plan was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup… so in theory it says “We have a problem with Islamic extremists crossing over the border with Iraq, and we’re taking actions against them to take this information and make the Syrian government look weak, the fact that it is dealing with Islamic extremists at all.”
    There is plenty of evidence showing the proxy war in Syria was orchestrated by Washington and Saudi Arabia as an offensive against Shia Iran. The primary objective is to balkanize the Middle East and, in the case of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, elevate Sunni Wahhabism as the primary variant of Islam in religious and political control of the Middle East and its natural resources.

    by: Melvin Weiner from: Miami
    December 20, 2015 2:51 PM
    Clinton’s remarks are completely at odds with reality. The terrorists and extremists in Syria are a creation of the United States, the Gulf Emirates and Turkey. The “civil war” in Syria was engineered prior to the so-called Arab Spring.
    “Preparations for the ‘Arab Spring’ began not as unrest had already begun, but years before the first ‘fist’ was raised, and within seminar rooms in D.C. and New York, US-funded training facilities in Serbia, and camps held in neighboring countries, not within the Arab World itself,”
    Direct evidence of these preparations surfaced in April, 2011 when the AFP ran an article detailing how State Department under Hillary Clinton sponsored “efforts to help activists in Arab and other countries gain access to technology that circumvents government firewalls, secures telephone text and voice messages, and prevents attacks on websites.”
    Michael Posner, the assistant Secretary of State for human rights and labor, told reporters the United States would “basically provide both technology, training, and diplomatic support to allow people to freely express their views.”

    by: Tom George
    December 20, 2015 8:23 AM
    HRC lied, used her position as Sec. St. to fund Clinton Fnd. And only real political accomplishment was to de-stabilize Libya and give rise to IS.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    December 20, 2015 5:18 PM
    I do not trust HRC to ever tell the truth. She clearly lied to America about Benghazi knowing full well immediately it was a terrorist attack, she lied about her text messages, and we have no idea where all of the money is coming from for the Clinton Foundation. At least some of it comes from North Korea. It would be naïve to think if she were elected the largest donors would not expect and probably get something in return. There is a clear conflict of interest.

    The Clinton administration was in retrospect a sellout of America and thoroughly incompetent. From granting China most favored nation status to taking its eye off the ball on terrorism, to signing the Financial Services Modernization Act which laid the groundwork for the demise of America's economy, to allowing North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons, actions by the Clinton Administration was the beginning of the end of American power and prestige. Bush and Obama have only made things worse and HRC looks to finish the job. I think much of America is sick and tired of Bushs, Clintons, and the corrupt government whose interests are anything but the American Peoples'. Is it any wonder so many Americans are so angry at our government?

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    December 19, 2015 8:28 PM
    The viewership is low because nobody wants to hear any more of her lies. Trump 2016.

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