U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2015

Sepp Blatter Wikimedia Commons/ Agência Brasil

THE WEEK

1. Driver plows into crowd in Las Vegas, killing one
A woman drove her car onto a crowded sidewalk on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday, killing one person and injuring dozens more. The driver had a 3-year-old in the car with her. The woman was expected to be charged Monday, on suspicion that she plowed into the crowd deliberately. Witnesses said the impact sent victims “flying through the air.” Investigators could not immediately determine a motive, but they ruled out terrorism. The incident occurred near the hotel where the Miss Universe pageant was being held.

Source: Reuters

2. Longtime FIFA chief Sepp Blatter banned from soccer
On Monday the ethics committee of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, barred outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter from the sport for eight years for ethics violations. His presumptive successor, Michel Platini, was banned, too. The men were among the most powerful in the sport. FIFA is scheduled to hold a vote on Blatter’s replacement in February. Both men are expected to appeal the ban. The suspensions stemmed from a $2 million payment Blatter authorized in 2011 that resulted in a criminal investigation in Switzerland and FIFA charges of breaking rules on conflicts of interest, gifts, and loyalty to the organization.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

3. Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is lying about ISIS using him for recruitment
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a liar on Sunday for saying that the Islamic State was using video of his remarks about Muslims to attract new supporters. Clinton said in a Saturday debate that Trump, who has proposed barring Muslims from entering the U.S., was “becoming ISIS’s best recruiter.” “It’s just another Hillary lie,” Trump said. “She lies like crazy about everything.” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri defended Clinton’s claim, saying she was not referring to a particular video, but that Trump is “being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda.”

Source: CNN, ABC News

4. Hezbollah commander reportedly killed in airstrike
Hezbollah commander Samir Kuntar, who participated in a notorious 1979 terrorist attack in Israel, was killed in an airstrike in Syria, his family and Hezbollah said Sunday. Hezbollah blamed the missile strike on Israel, but Israeli officials had no comment. Kuntar served nearly 30 years in prison in Israel for his role in the 1979 killings of four Israelis, including a civilian and his 4-year-old daughter. He was freed in 2008 as part of an exchange involving the return of two soldiers’ bodies to Israel.

Source: The New York Times

5. Spain’s ruling conservative party loses majority
Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party lost its majority in parliamentin a national election on Sunday, dropping from 186 seats in the 350-member lower house to 123 seats. The conservative party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy collected the most votes of any single party, but its rivals on the left surged ahead. The main opposition, the Socialists, took 90 seats, while a new far-left party called Podemos took 69. The centrist Ciudadanos party won 40 seats. With nobody winning a clear mandate to govern, Spain’s political leaders headed into what could be weeks of talks on forming a coalition.

Source: USA Today, Reuters

6. Dozens missing in China landslide
A landslide on Sunday buried 33 buildings in an industrial park, leaving 91 people missing in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Rescuers were searching for survivors on Monday, and detected “signs of life” in three places. The Public Security Ministry’s Firefighting Bureau said that a wave of excavated soil and construction debris had filled many of the buildings, making the “room of survival extremely small.” The city is a major manufacturing center — across the border from Hong Kong — where products from cell phones to cars are made for export around the world.

Source: The Associated Press, BBC News

7. New Hampshire district shuts schools Monday due to threat of violence
The Nashua, N.H., school district canceled Monday classes after police received threats of violence. “We have a detailed threat of violence to harm students at both high schools,” Superintendent Mark Conrad said. The district is one of the state’s largest, with 11,500 students. The scare came days after school officials in Los Angeles, California, closed their district — the second largest in the U.S. — due to a terrorist threat that turned out to be a hoax.

Source: USA Today

8. Rapist’s release sparks protest in India
Hundreds protested in India’s capital on Sunday after the release of the youngest male convicted in a notorious rape case. The juvenile was moved from prison to a rehabilitation home run by a nonprofit group. The former prisoner, convicted of raping a woman in a moving bus three years ago, will continue to be monitored. He will undergo psychological rehabilitation and do sewing work. After the news broke, protesters shouted “Shame, shame,” and said releasing a rapist endangered women. “As a mother, I feel quite helpless today,” said Asha Singh, the victim’s mother.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Mistake mars end of Miss Universe pageant
The Miss Universe pageant ended in confusion Sunday night, when host Steve Harvey mistakenly named the first runner-up as the pageant’s winner. Moments later, he apologized and said that the crown actually belonged to Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines, not runner-up Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo from Colombia, who was visibly upset and comforted by fellow contestants. The Family Feud and Steve Harvey Show host apologized and said he took full responsibility for not reading his cue card right.

Source: The Associated Press

10. The Force Awakens smashes box office records
Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued to demolish records in its opening weekend, earning $238 million in domestic ticket sales in its opening weekend. The old record, $208.8 million, was set by Jurassic World in June. The new Star Wars film has earned about $517 million worldwide already. Avatar, the 2009 film widely considered to be the highest-grossing film in history, made $85 million in its first three days in the U.S. on the way to a total of $3.1 billion in global ticket sales.

Source: The New York Times

U.S. Politics

Donald Trump: No Proof That Putin Kills Journalists

CREDIT: RICHARD DREW, AP

THINK PROGRESS

On ABC’s This Week, GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump dismissed reports of reporters killed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime as unproven.

“They are allegations. Yeah sure there are allegations. I’ve read those allegations over the years. But nobody’s proven that he’s killed anybody, as far as I’m concerned. He hasn’t killed reporters that’s been proven,” Trump told host George Stephanopoulos.

Trump conceded that if the allegations were true, he would “think that that’s terrible,” but added, “this isn’t like somebody that stood with the gun and taken the blame or admitted that he’s killed. He’s always denied it. He’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. ”

Trump asked Stephanopoulos, “Do you know the names of reporters that he’s killed?”

In 2012, The Guardian’s Peter Preston catalogued the deaths of journalists since Putin came to power, many of them dying by gunshot wounds. In addition to journalists, many political critics of Putin, including human rights activist Natalia Estemirova and Sergei Yushenkov, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia movement, have died since he became president. Earlier this year, Boris Nemtsov was shot in central Moscow while walking with his girlfriend after dining out.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented 13 killed journalists in Putin’s Russia in the last decade alone.

Trump has brushed off the criticisms before. On Friday’s Morning Joe, Trump responded to Joe Scarborough’s question much differently. Instead of saying he wasn’t aware of the deaths, he didn’t acknowledge them as a problem. When Scarborough said, “He also is a person that kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?” Trump responded, “Our country does plenty of killing also, Joe … He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”

When pressed again on the killing of journalists, Trump repeated himself, saying, “Well, our country does plenty of killing also Joe, so you know … ”

Trump continued his praise of Putin on other programs, telling Chuck Todd on Meet The Press, “He is a strong leader. What am I gonna say, he’s a weak leader? He’s making minced meat out of our president,” he claimed, noting the Russian president’s 80 percent approval rating.

Watch the video:

 

 

U.S. Politics

Miss Puerto Rico Suspended For Anti-Muslim Comments On Twitter

DONALD KRAVITZ VIA GETTY IMAGES

THE HUFFINGTON POST

“Her words do not represent the integrity and esteem of our program.”

Miss Puerto Rico 2015 has been indefinitely suspended from her role by the island’s official Miss America organization for launching a tirade against Muslims on Twitter.

Destiny Velez, 20, fired off a series of tweets at filmmaker Michael Moore on Thursday in which she blasted the religion, The Washington Times reported.

Moore had posted a picture of himself outside Trump Tower in New York City with a sign reading, “We are all Muslim.” His image was in response to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., which prompted the #WeAreAllMuslim Twitter hashtag.

Velez tweeted directly at Moore multiple times, saying Muslims had “terrorizing agendas,” Latin Times reported.

Her tweets and Twitter account have since been deleted. The phrases she used can still be seen on the Latin Times site, however.

“All what Muslims have done is provided oil & terrorize this country & many others!!!!” she wrote. “There’s NO comparison between Jews, Christians & Muslims. Jews nor Christians have terrorizing agendas in their sacred books.”

“If we are all the same then Muslims need to take off their napkins off of their heads cuz I feel offended by it,” she added.

Velez — who placed outside the top 15 in September’s Miss America 2016 competition, won by Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell — sparked a furious backlash online.

Many Twitter users labeled her a bully, and the hashtags #nonosrepresentas (you don’t represent us) and #verguenzaajena (embarrassment) started trending in Puerto Rico, per Morocco World News.

It led the Miss Puerto Rico Organization, which runs an official preliminary competition for the Miss America Organization, to release a statement Saturday saying Velez had been “suspended indefinitely.”

Continued

U.S. Politics

Fact-checking the Dec. 20 Sunday shows

NBC's Chuck Todd interviews House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., about the recent budget deal and Obamacare for an interview that aired Dec. 20, 2015. (NBC handout)

NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., about the recent budget deal and Obamacare for an interview that aired Dec. 20, 2015. (NBC handout)

POLITIFACT

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wasn’t happy about the number of times Democrats invoked his name during their Saturday debate, accusing both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders of lying about him on national television.

Clinton said ISIS was using videos of Trump talking about Muslims to recruit jihadists, but there isn’t evidence to back that up, so her claim rates False. Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press that Clinton “just made this up in thin air.”

Host Chuck Todd moved on to questions about Trump’s embrace of compliments from Russia President Vladimir Putin, criticized for human rights violations against journalists and political opponents. Still, Trump did not back down.

Trump defended his characterization of Putin as a strong leader who has made “mincemeat” of President Barack Obama.

“He’s got an 80 percent approval rating done by pollsters from, I understand, this country. Okay?” Trump said. “So it’s not even done by his pollsters. He’s very popular within Russia, that may change.”

In a first for Donald Trump in 77 fact-checks, this claim about polling rates True.

A November study written by four American researchers backs up Trump’s point, finding about 80 percent of Russians really support Putin.

The study asked whether Putin’s popularity is real or if respondents have been lying to pollsters. A primary concern for the researchers was the possibility of “social desirability bias,” the idea that a person who does not support Putin might tell a pollster that they do support him out of fear of retaliation or going against social norms.

To correct for this, the researchers used a list experiment, a technique used to broach sensitive issues because it does not require respondents to say explicitly that they do or do not support Putin. Pollsters gave Russian respondents a list of several Russian leaders and asked how many they support, but not which ones. By comparing the difference between a control group, which was presented with a list that did not include Putin, with a group that received a list that did include Putin, the researchers were able to estimate overall support for the Russian president.

After conducting four list experiments in January and March of this year, researchers concluded that the high level of support for Putin is real. If anything, their finding of 80 percent support might be an underestimate.

However, Scott Gehlbach, a co-author of the study and a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the study did not account for how many of the 80 percent are devout supporters versus those whose support is fleeting. Further, it’s likely that the Kremlin manipulates public opinion of Putin through tight control of the media.

One potential wrinkle in Trump’s claim is that while the American researchers designed the study, a Russian polling company, the Levada Center, actually conducted the survey. But Gehlbach said that doesn’t dilute Trump’s claim because the Levada Center is well-regarded as independent from the Russian government.

Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion expert and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, also said the Levada Center is held in high regard and its findings are consistent with related research by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center.

‘Double-digit premium increases’

Later in the show, host Chuck Todd sat down with House Speaker Paul Ryan and asked how the White House and Congress will work together next year. Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee, called Obama the “most polarizing president we’ve ever had” and said relations on Capitol Hill would be better if GOP nominee Mitt Romney had won the presidency.

Todd pushed back by saying progressives see the Republican effort to defund Obama’s health law as a polarizing move.

“It’s a law that is not working. It’s a law that’s depriving people’s choices,” Ryan said. “It’s a law that’s making families pay double-digit premium increases.”

Ryan’s statement about premium increases rates Half True.

Ryan’s office sent us news stories describing how some Obamacare enrollees in some states will see increases of 10 percent or more from this year to next. But hikes in the double digits are not as universal as Ryan suggests, and not entirely attributable to the health care law itself.

The Department of Health and Human Services looked at average rate hikes for the benchmark plan in the marketplace, the second-lowest priced silver plan. According to HHS data, 19 of 37 states in the federal exchange saw an average rate increase in the double digits. At the low end, rates in Missouri increased by 10.4 percent while Oklahoma saw the biggest hike at 35.7 percent.

Conversely, four states actually saw reduced rates, with Indiana’s decrease in the double digits at 12.6 percent. The other 11 states with rate hikes saw increases below 6.1 percent.

On average, the benchmark plan has increased 7.5 percent, which decreases once premium tax credits and enrollment figures are factored in.

Experts say hikes are likely the result of insurers underestimating how sick enrollees would be. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Foundation has stressed that 2016 is the first year that insurers are looking at actual claims data. Before, they were “essentially guessing at what their costs were,” he said in October. “Some insurers guessed better than others, which leads to variations in premium changes.”

Experts also stress that premiums vary too much to be captured by averages and can also be unique to an individual’s circumstances.

U.S. Politics

Fox Host To Fiorina: ‘Weren’t You Just Flat Wrong About That?’

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AP Photo / John Locher

TPM LIVEWIRE

Fiorina had said that Gen. Jack Keane “retired early” after a quarrel with President Obama.Keane himself appeared on Fox News and denied Fiorina’s claim.

On Sunday, Wallace asked her about it.

“But then there’s Keane who never served in the Obama administration, Wallace said. “Says he’s never spoken to Barack Obama. Weren’t you just flat wrong about that?”

“Well, I was wrong about Keane, yes. He is the exception that proves the rule,” Fiorina said. “I was certainly right about the fact that he is a member of the warrior class. I was naming the five warriors of our generation who have experience, four out of five I would argue were retired early out of the Obama administration because they said things the Obama administration didn’t particularly want to hear.”

SARA JERDE

 

U.S. Politics

Here’s a Better Answer to Donald Trump’s Supporters

MOTHER JONES

[Saturday’s] Democratic debate featured a short exchange about Donald Trump:

MUIR: You have weighed in already on Donald Trump….What would you say to the millions of Americans watching tonight who agree with him? Are they wrong?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well I think a lot of people are understandably reacting out of fear and anxiety about what they’re seeing….Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make think there are easy answers to very complex questions.

I suppose this is the “right” answer in some sense, but if you take seriously the framing of the question—what would you say to Trump’s supporters?—it’s condescending and offensive. You’re telling them that they only support Trump because they’re scared, not because they have legitimate beefs. That’s not likely to win many converts.

I’m a little surprised that no one has taken the approach toward Trump that strikes me as having a better chance of success. Basically it has two parts:

#1: Trump is a mediocre businessman. He talks big about his golf resorts, but they don’t make a lot of money. His casinos in Atlantic City went bankrupt because he managed them poorly and didn’t understand the business. He doesn’t have a lavish property empire. He’s built or renovated half a dozen major buildings, and they’ve done OK but nothing more than that.There’s no evidence that he negotiates especially great deals, just fairly routine ones. He’s thin-skinned and goes to court—or threatens to—over every perceived slight. Basically, Trump inherited a lot of wealth and hasn’t done all that much with it. Someone should ask him to show us financial statements for his development business. Not licensing and TV. Just development. How much have earnings increased over the past decade? What’s his return on equity? Return on investment? Etc.

#2: Trump is a blowhard, and we all know blowhards, right? They BS constantly because they don’t know squat. They talk big and they never deliver. That’s Trump. What makes anyone think he’ll deliver on all the BS he’s ladling out right now?

Trump has built two successful businesses based on being a blowhard. He has a nice licensing business, and he made a nice chunk of change from The Apprentice. That’s about it. In every business that required him to actually deliver something concrete, he’s been average or worse.

Trump has built his campaign on the proposition that he’s a great builder and a great negotiator, and for some reason his opponents have all let that slide. I don’t really understand why. Take away his mouth and he’s just another guy who inherited a bunch of money from his father and used it to build a middling business. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it hardly makes him a dazzling executive, either.

KEVIN DRUM

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2015

Jim Cole/Associated Press

THE WEEK

1. Democrats clash on guns, ISIS at New Hampshire debate
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley met for their third debate Saturday night in New Hampshire. Tensions ran high when O’Malley laid into Clinton and Sanders on gun control, prompting Clinton to demand that he “tell the truth,” and when Clinton and Sanders debated how to handle the Islamic State.

Source: The New York Times

2. Sanders campaign suspends 2 more aides over data breach
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign suspended two more staffers pending the investigation into the data breach of private Hillary Clinton donor information, campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Saturday. A firewall glitch in the Democratic National Committee’s voter database allowed four Sanders staffers to access and download the informationWednesday. The Sanders campaign fired data director Josh Uretsky on Thursday evening. Sanders personally apologized to Clinton and to his supporters for the incident at Saturday’s debate.

Source: ABC News, Politico

3. Legislator claims San Bernardino shooter’s visa was ‘sloppily approved’
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said Saturday after reviewing San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik’s visa application that it was “sloppily approved.” He argued there’s no conclusive evidence in the file demonstrating that Malik had met Syed Rizwan Farook, her future husband and the other shooter, in person. “All required procedures were followed,” the State Department said Saturay. Malik and Farook died in a police shootout Dec. 2 after authorities said they carried out the deadly California massacre.

Source: The Washington Post

4. Air France flight emergency landing over bomb scare was ‘false alarm’
An Air France flight headed from Mauritius to Paris made an emergency landing in Kenya early Sunday after a passenger reported a suspicious device in the bathroom, authorities said. The airline has since called the incident a “false alarm.” The object was inspected by bomb experts, according to a tweet from the Kenya Airports Authority. Several passengers were being questioned. All 459 passengers and 14 crew members were evacuated safely.

Source: BuzzFeed News, The Associated Press

5. Spain votes in landmark parliamentary election
Spanish voters are taking to the polls Sunday to vote in a historic election. For the first time in decades, more than two parties are competing for power. The ruling People’s Party is narrowly ahead in polls, with the Socialists in second. Newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos are likely vying for third. But it’s expected that no party will secure a majority of parliament, which could lead to consensus politics in Spain.

Source: Reuters, BBC News

6. Demonstrators in India protest release of convicted rapist
Demonstrators in New Delhi rallied Sunday against the release of a man convicted in the notorious fatal 2012 gang rape case of a young woman in India’s capital. The man, who has not been named because he was a minor at the time of the incident, served three years in a reform home, a term many critics have argued is not long enough. Four adult convicts in the case are appealing their death sentences.

Source: The Associated Press, BBC News

7. More than 20 missing after China landslide
More than 20 people are reportedly still missing after a landslide rocked an industrial park in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday morning, according to state media posts. The number of casualties isn’t known. Nearly 1,500 rescue workers were dispatched to the scene. Several people are thought to have been rescued and more than 900 people have been evacuated from the area, a city official said.

Source: Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press

8. Martin Shkreli says charges against him are ‘baseless’
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli slammed the federal charges against him in a tweet Saturday. “I am confident I will prevail,” he wrote. “The allegations against me are baseless and without merit.” Shkreli, who founded the pharmaceutical company Retrophin, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he looted the firm.

Source: CBS News

9. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler return to SNL
To promote their new film, Sisters, Saturday Night Live vets Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returned to host the holiday episode. The two visited their old Weekend Update stomping grounds, reprised their roles as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and were joined by Maya Rudolph for a classic bit as talk show hosts from the Bronx. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and the cast capped off SNL‘s year with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Source: The Washington Post

10. New York Philharmonic conductor dies at 88
Kurt Masur, who served as the New York Philharmonic’s music director from 1991 to 2002, died Saturday at 88 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. The New York Times called him “the darkest of dark horses” and credited him with heightening the orchestra’s global standing.

Source: The New York Times

U.S. Politics

Sunday Talk

DAILY KOS

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Raging Narcissist Donald Trump (R); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Face the Nation: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Former Florida Gov. Jeb! (R); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist David AxelrodPeggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal), Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic), and Dan Balz (Washington Post).

This Week: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Raging Narcissist Donald Trump (R); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, “Independent” Strategist Matthew Dowd, Republican Strategist Ana Navarro, and Cokie Roberts (ABC News).

Fox News Sunday: Failed CEO Carly Fiorina (R); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); RoundtableBrit Hume (Fox News), Julie Pace (Associated Press), George Will (Washington Post), and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Silly Rabbit

 

U.S. Politics

Hillary Clinton Fends Off Attacks At Democratic Debate

clinton sanders debate

Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

TIME

Hillary Clinton faced an onslaught of criticism from her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination during Saturday evening’s debate, but neither Bernie Sanders nor Martin O’Malley delivered an attack that seemed likely to derail her frontrunner campaign.

The challenges came on a wide range of topics, from her Wall Street ties and initial support for invading Iraq to her positions on gun control and age. She parried all comers, without losing her composure or committing major errors.

“Maybe we can score some political points,” Clinton said of her rivals’ tough words. Instead, she focused her harshest words on Republicans, including GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, as part of a strategy to show Democratic voters that she is already ready for the general election next year.

Sanders was tough on Clinton’s record, especially her more hawkish foreign policy positions. “Regime change is easy. Getting rid of dictators is easy,” Sanders said. Clinton countered that Sanders had voted for regime change in Libya. Sanders also kept hammering his anti-Establishment message against both Clinton. “It is too late for Establishment politics and Establishment economics,” Sanders said.

O’Malley tried to inject himself repeatedly, picking up on the theme begun by Sabders. In doing so, he made note of the age of both Clinton and O’Malley. “Can I offer a different generation’s perspective?” O’Malley said. Later he added, “We need new leadership.”

O’Malley was the more aggressive Clinton critic, taking on her support from Wall Street donors and her positions on the Second Amendment. “Secretary Clinton changes her position on this every election year it seems,” O’Malley said in criticizing Clinton’s record on gun rights.

Clinton braced herself against the jabs, noting that she would get “all kinds of comments” from her rival. When O’Malley swung at Clinton’s record on gun rights, Clinton kept her composure. “I applaud his record,” she said, before adding: “I just wish he wouldn’t misrepresent mine.” She then noted that, as head of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley courted Wall Street donors himself.

Sanders began the debate on the defensive over his campaign’s improper access to Clinton’s voter database. Sanders apologized to rival Clinton and sought to move past the drama that roiled their party for the last three days. “Yes. I apologize,” Sanders said. “Not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton. I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.”

Sanders, however, continued to blame the Democratic National Committee and its data contractor. “There was a breach because the DNC vendor screwed up,” Sanders said. Clinton accepted the apology. “Obviously, we were distressed when we learned of it,” Clinton said, pointing to “tens of thousands of volunteers” who have worked to enter data.

She then returned a favor to Sanders, who famously used his first debate with Clinton to shut down questions about her use of a private email server. “We should move on because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this,” she said.

Apart from the debate’s dramatic first question on the DNC data breach, the debate’s first portion was an otherwise predictable affair. Clinton faced criticism from her rivals, Sanders used every question to rally his progressive supporters and O’Malley struggled to inject himself into the conversation. The Saturday night debate was unlikely to change the contours of the Democratic contest, which so far has favored Clinton.

Trump was not on stage, but he was a favorite target for the Democrats. “Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people,” Clinton said. She said “he is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter.” Added Sanders: “He thinks a low minimum wage in America is a good idea.” And O’Malley called him “as untried and as (he is) incompetent.”

Philip Elliott

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