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Ahead Of Michigan Primary, Clinton, Sanders Debate In Flint

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Ahead Of Michigan Primary, Clinton, Sanders Debate In Flint

Politics

Ahead Of Michigan Primary, Clinton, Sanders Debate In Flint

Ahead Of Michigan Primary, Clinton, Sanders Debate In Flint

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Bernie Sanders reiterated his call for Gov. Rick Snyder to resign over his handling of the water crisis. Hillary Clinton, who had not earlier called for Snyder to resign, chimed in saying, "Amen."

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The two Democrats still seeking their party's nomination met last night in Michigan. They debated on CNN. They were visiting a state that holds its primary Tuesday and visiting a city, Flint, that has been suffering from toxic water. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Right from the opening statements, both candidates talked about the lead-poisoned water in Flint, a troubled city where both Clinton and Sanders have held community forums in recent weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: What I heard and what I saw literally shattered me. And it was beyond belief that children in Flint, Mich., in the United States of America in the year 2016 are being poisoned.

KEITH: And then Sanders, as he has many times before, called for the state's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, to resign over his handling of the crisis. Clinton, who had until that point not called for Snyder to resign, chimed in saying, I'm into that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: I agree. The governor should resign or be recalled. And we should...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: ...Support the efforts of citizens attempting to achieve that. But that is not enough. We have to focus on what must be done to help the people of Flint.

KEITH: Last night, both candidates came armed with facts, figures and points they wanted to score. For Sanders, the debate was a chance to hammer Clinton on her support for the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s when her husband was president. Here's Sanders addressing CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: I am very glad, Anderson, that Secretary Clinton has discovered religion on this issue. But it's a little bit too late. Secretary Clinton supported virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America.

KEITH: Sanders blamed NAFTA for the loss of 800,000 jobs nationwide and the shattering of tens of thousands of factories. Clinton took this as a cue to whip out some opposition research of her own.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: I voted to save the auto industry. He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry. I think that is a pretty big difference.

SANDERS: Well, I - if you are talking about the Wall Street bailout, where some of your friends destroyed this economy...

CLINTON: You know...

SANDERS: ...Through - excuse me. I'm talking.

ANDERSON COOPER: Let him (unintelligible).

CLINTON: If you're going to talk, tell the whole story, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Let me tell my story. You tell yours.

CLINTON: I will.

SANDERS: Your story...

KEITH: Flint, where the debate was taking place, is a majority-African-American city. And both candidates were asked about their racial blind spots. Clinton answered first.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: I can't pretend to have the experience that you have had and others have had. But I will do everything that I possibly can to not only do the best to understand and to empathize, but to tear down the barriers of systemic racism that are in the criminal justice system, in the employment system and the education and health care system.

KEITH: Then it was Sanders's turn.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: I would say, and I think it's similar to what the secretary said, when you're white, you don't know what it's like to be living in a ghetto. You don't know what it's like to be poor. You don't know what it's like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car.

KEITH: Sanders pledged to end institutional racism and reform the criminal justice system. In voting over the weekend, Sanders won 3 of the 4 contests and a narrow majority of the delegates. But Clinton won the largest state by a big margin and maintains a significant lead in pledged delegates. Tamara Keith, NPR News.

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