The Slatest

The Best Lines of the CNN Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton listens as Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York on Thursday.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Hello, old friends. It’s been weeks since we last gathered like this, and yet here we are, watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spar once again. Given how long it’s been since the two last met on the debate stage, you can be sure that they’ll bring their strongest material tonight. As always, we’ll be rounding up their best lines of the evening right here.

Clinton, proving that she really knows her valuable New York audience:

We worked hard to keep New York values at the center of who we are and what we do together.

Clinton, reminding us that she’s been insulted before:

Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. Now, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first.

Sanders, reframing that whole “unqualified thing”:

Let’s talk about judgment. And let us talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country. I led the opposition to that war. Secretary Clinton voted for it. Let’s talk about judgment.

Clinton on the best way to go after the banks:

I believe strongly that executives of any of these organizations should be financially penalized if there is a settlement. They should have to pay up through compensation or bonuses. We have to go after not just the big, giant institution. We have to go after the people who are making the decisions in the institutions.

Sanders, responding to Clinton’s assertion that she “called out” the mortgage behavior of the banks:

Secretary Clinton called them out! My goodness, they must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? They must have been very, very upset by what you did.

Sanders responding to Clinton’s promise to release her documents if everyone else does:

Well, let me respond. Secretary Clinton, you just heard her, [said] everybody else does it, she’ll do it. I will do it. I am going to release all of the transcripts of the speeches that I gave on Wall Street behind closed doors. Not for $225,000, not for $2,000, not for two cents. There were no speeches.

Sanders on his supposed “contempt” for large American companies:

First of all, the word contempt is not right. There are some great businesses who treat workers and the environment with respect. Verizon happens to not be one of them.

Clinton on the power of the gun industry:

This is the only industry in America, the only one that has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We have to hold Wall Street accountable. What about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?

Clinton on the state of race relations:

I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism. It’s also in employment. It’s in housing. But it is in the criminal justice system as well.

Sanders, explaining why he called Clinton out for her use of the term “superpredator”:

Because it was a racist term. And everybody knew it was a racist term.

Sanders on the dangers of climate change:

If we, god forbid, were attacked tomorrow, the whole country would rise up and say, We’ve got an enemy out there. We’ve got to do something about it. That was what 9/11 was about. We have an enemy out there and that enemy is going to cause drought and floods and extreme weather disturbances. There’s going to be international conflict.

Clinton on the Paris climate accords

I was very proud that president Obama and America led the way to the agreement that was finally reached in Paris, with 195 nations committing to take steps to actually make a difference in climate change. And I was surprised and disappointed when Senator Sanders attacked the agreement, said it was not enough, it didn’t go far enough. You know, at some point, putting together 195 countries, I know a little bit about that, was a major accomplishment and our president led the effort to protect our world, and he deserves our appreciation, not our criticism.

Sanders on the consequences of Clinton’s geopolitical stances in her role as secretary of state:

Regime change often has unintended consequences. In Iraq and in Libya right now where ISIS has a very dangerous foothold. And I think if you studied the whole history of American involvement in regime change, you see that quite often.

Sanders on funding for NATO:

I would not be embarrassed as president of the United States to say to our European allies, you know what, the United States of America cannot just support your economies. You got to put up your own fair share of the defense burden. Nothing wrong with that.

Clinton on what she’ll do if other NATO member countries refuse to pay more:

I will stay in NATO. I will stay in NATO and we will continue to look for missions and other kinds of programs that they will support. Remember, NATO was with us in Afghanistan, most of the member countries also lost soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. They came to our rallying defense after 9/11. That meant a lot. 

Sanders, reaffirming his claim that Israel’s response in Gaza was “disproportionate”:

As somebody who is 100% pro Israel, in the long run… if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.

Sanders on praise for the Israeli leadership:

There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

Clinton on the lessons of her conversations with Israeli leaders:

If you are, from whatever perspective, trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace, when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist… That is a very difficult challenge.

Sanders, looking north for a guaranteed health care model:

I live 50 miles away from Canada. You know, it’s not some kind of communist, authoritarian country. It’s doing okay. They have a health care system that guarantees health care to all people. We can do the same.

Clinton on Social Security reform:

Because Social Security started in the 1930s, a lot of women have been left out and left behind. And it’s time that we provide more benefits for widows, divorcees, or care givers—for women who deserve more from the Social Security system, and that will be my highest priority.

Clinton, turning inside out in response to Sanders’ criticisms:

It’s always a little bit challenging because, you know, if senator Sanders doesn’t agree with how you are approaching something, then you are a member of the establishment.

Clinton on women’s rights and things too long left unsaid:

We’ve had eight debates before; this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care. Not one question. And in the meantime we have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights. We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished, and we are never asked about this… It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.

Sanders on his base:

I will also say, and this is important, and maybe the secretary disagrees with me, but I am proud that millions of young people who previously were not involved in the political process are now coming into it. And I do believe, I do believe, that we have got to open the door of the Democratic party to those people.

This post will be updated throughout the debate.