Bernie Sanders pointed out (fairly) at Saturday night’s CBS Democratic presidential debate that Hillary Clinton raises a substantial amount of campaign money from Wall Street, while moderator (and Slate columnist) John Dickerson alluded to the millions of dollars in paid speeches that the former New York senator has given to major banks. Pressed on whether this would compromise her ability as president to properly regulate the financial industry, Clinton answered with a non sequitur, citing her female donors and alluding to 9/11:
Oh, wait a minute, senator. You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small, and I’m very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60%. [Cheers and applause.] So I— I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.
It was such an unusual answer, in fact, that CBS soon thereafter returned to the subject, displaying a tweet from a viewer who wrote that he’d “never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations.” Responded Clinton: “I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression, because I worked closely with New Yorkers after 9/11 for my entire first term to rebuild. So, yes, I did know people … I’ve had a lot of folks give me donations from all kinds of backgrounds say, ‘I don’t agree with you on everything, but I like what you do. I like how you stand up. I’m going to support you.’ And I think that is absolutely appropriate.”