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Culture > News

The Top 6 Moments at Last Night’s Democratic Debate

Last night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Flint, Mich., where lead-poisoned water has caused a crisis—And people want answers from government. The two candidates couldn’t match the high drama of the GOP debates if they tried, but there were some tense moments. The discussion mostly revolved around some pretty serious policy, making the night much more substantial (if not more fun to tweet about) than most debates. Here are some of the top moments.

1. Both candidates said they would work hard to hold people accountable in the Flint water crisis, and to make sure nothing similar happened anywhere else in the country.

Both candidates said they would conduct a thorough investigation, and that people would be fired if they knew about the crisis before it was uncovered and failed to do anything about it. Clinton and Sanders also both called for the resignation of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Audience members spoke movingly about how hard it is to live when you have to go get water every day and can’t use anything from your tap for fear of sickness or death.

2. Clinton started to interrupt Sanders, and he said, “Excuse me, I’m talking!”

The moment came when Sanders attacked Clinton for supporting Wall St. during the 2008 financial crisis, and she tried to butt in. The “Excuse me, I’m talking,” line, delivered in Sanders’ typical yell, seemed sexist to some—How many women have felt the humiliation of getting shut down by a male classmate or colleague? At the same time, candidates have to carefully guard their time during debates, so getting interrupted is understandably something Sanders wanted to avoid.

3. Both candidates were asked about their support of the 1994 crime bill.

The bill, which disproportionately harmed black Americans, has been a big point of contention in the election because it was passed during Bill Clinton’s presidency, with support from the First Lady—Hillary. Clinton emphasized that while she may have supported the bill then, she’s now focused on serious reform of the criminal justice system and the racism inherent within it. Sanders said he voted for the 1994 bill because of provisions he liked for domestic violence and assault weapons, but that he spoke out about the bad parts of the bill at the time.

4. The candidates clashed on gun control.

One of Sanders’ weakest points is his position on gun control. While he often brings up his D- rating from the NRA, he doesn’t support taking away immunity from gun sellers and manufacturers—a move that Clinton enthusiastically supports. Sanders says taking away immunity would end gun manufacturing in America, but Clinton says gunmakers need to be held responsible for what people may do with their product.

5. Both candidates talked about their white privilege, though they didn’t use those words.

Moderator Don Lemon of CNN asked the candidates about their racial blind spots. Clinton responded that, “Being a white person in the United States of America, I know that I’ve never had the experience that so many of the people in this audience have had.” Sanders sounded a similar note, telling stories he’d heard from black acquaintances about the impact of racism on their lives. He noted that white people never have to deal with the same kind of prejudice.

6. Sanders said he’s proud of his Jewish heritage.

One audience member asked Sanders about the role of God in his life, and about worries from some that he puts his Jewish faith in the background. “I am very proud of being Jewish,” Sanders said, and referred to family members who were “wiped out” in the Holocaust. The same audience member asked Clinton about her prayer life, to which she gave a long answer about how she prays every day.

This wasn’t everything that was discussed in the debate! Check out more recaps here and here.

Katherine Mirani is the News Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Northwestern University's journalism school in 2015. Before joining Her Campus full time, she worked on investigative stories for Medill Watchdog and the Scripps News Washington Bureau. When not obsessing over journalism, Katherine enjoys pasta, ridiculous action movies, #longreads, and her cockatiel, Oreo.