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Sanders apologizes to Clinton, supporters for data breach

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Bernie Sanders, left, spoke with Hillary Clinton during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate tonight at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Bernie Sanders, left, spoke with Hillary Clinton during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate tonight at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

MANCHESTER, N.H. >> Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton moved past the rancor over a breach of her campaign’s valuable voter data, shifting Saturday night’s debate into a pointed but polite discussion of national security, Americans’ heightened terrorism fears and the economy.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, kept much of her focus on the general election, sharply criticizing Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States. She called the leader of the GOP race the Islamic State’s “best recruiter.”

“Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people,” said Clinton, the former secretary of state.

Clinton and Sanders, her closest challenger, entered the debate in the midst of one of their fiercest fights — about the campaign itself rather than a national or international issue. Clinton’s campaign accused Sanders’ team of stealing information used to target voters and anticipate what issues might motivate them. In response to the breach, the Democratic National Committee temporarily cut off Sanders’ team’s access to its own data, a move the Vermont senator said Saturday was an “egregious act.”

Still, Sanders said his staff had acted improperly.

“This is not the type of campaign that we run,” he said. Sanders’ campaign fired a worker involved in the breach but also used the controversy to raise money, sending an email to supporters that said the national party had placed “its thumb on the scales in support of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” His campaign said after the debate it had suspended two more aides.

Clinton quickly accepted his apology Saturday night, saying, “We should move on, because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this.”

The debate, the third for Democrats, was expected to have low viewership given that it was scheduled on the last weekend before Christmas, when many Americans have turned their attention to the holidays. It came as Clinton had solidified her standing atop the field, shaking off a rocky start and the controversy about her use of private email at the State Department.

Clinton and Sanders were joined onstage by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has struggled to be a factor in the race. O’Malley was aggressive in seeking to play a role, repeatedly talking over moderators and accusing his rivals of having outdated views on foreign policy.

In a heated exchange on gun control, O’Malley accused both Clinton and Sanders of having a “flip-flopping, political approach” to the contentious issue.

Clinton also defied moderators’ efforts to cut her off at times, leading Sanders to call out, “Now this is getting to be fun.”

While there was broad agreement among the Democratic contenders that the U.S. should not launch a ground war to defeat the Islamic State, they differed in the tactics they would take and whether the nation should seek regime change in Syria, where IS has a stronghold.

Clinton recommended more direct action than her competitors, calling for a no-fly zone over part of Syria and insisting that the U.S. must seek to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

“If the United States does not lead, there is not another leader — there is a vacuum,” she said.

Sanders disagreed, saying the U.S. should first seek to defeat the Islamic State, calling Assad a “secondary issue” that should be dealt with over the course of years.

“Yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy,” Sanders said. “But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after.”

All three candidates stressed working more closely with Muslim-American communities to tackle radicalism at home — a sharp difference from the rhetoric of some Republican candidates. Returning to her focus on Trump, Clinton said, “If you’re going to put together a coalition in the region to take on the threat of ISIS, you don’t want to alienate the very countries you need to be part of the coalition.”

Saturday’s debate was the first for Democrats since the shooting in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were killed by a married couple that authorities say had been radicalized. The incident, as well as earlier attacks in Paris, pushed national security to the forefront of the 2016 White House race.

The foreign policy focus has blunted Sanders’ momentum in the Democratic race. The senator has deeply loyal supporters who are drawn to his economic- and inequality-focused campaign, but he’s far less comfortable discussing foreign policy issues.

Sanders sought to refocus on his core message of leveling the economic playing field for middle class Americans, including his call for free college tuition and a single-payer health care system. Clinton challenged Sanders on how he would pay for those proposals, suggesting he’d pass on the costs to states and middle class Americans.

She pledged that as president, she wouldn’t raise taxes on families making $250,000 or less per year. “That is a pledge that I’m making,” she said.

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    • Frightening prospect, but, once Hillary is indicted and Trump wins the Republican nomination, admitted nationalsozialismus Sanders could conceivably become our next President.

      • You keep writing this over and over again. Exactly what statute are you forecasting this imagined indictment will reference? For once – at long last – it would be pleasant if you wrote something that made sense.

        • Only recently….The FBI found MORE Classified material on her emails.This is the kind of stuff could ultimately end her run for the presidency. The thing that gets me is, that employees working in the State Department or other federal agencies…Assistants,interns etc. Got fired for posting even one picture!A Lesser crime! This lady had sent and received a thousand emails on her personal server.The question everyone should be asking…Is she going to be Charged? (Probably NOT) like,General Patreus? If not? Full reinstatement,should be considered for the General…let’s be fair about this!

      • Well, the first two aren’t going to happen. As for Sanders, Wikipedia will quite simply help you with the difference between a Social Democrat (quite common in northern Europe) and a National Socialist. But I guess the point of inflammatory screed is simply inflammatory screed.

    • How so? Can you be specific or are you just repeating what your heroes at Fox said? Actually Bernie is not the only other democratic option but he is the best choice.

      • My goodness! I agree with you this morning. If a Golden Retriever were running, he/she would have my vote. They don’t care about race or religion, they judge people by their actions and are prepared to like anyone. They want people around them to be happy and will gladly work for a kind word, a belly-rub, and the occasional cookie.

  • Hillary talking tough about combating terrorism but when it counted in Benghazi and Americans, including the US ambassador of Libya desparately needed then Secretary of State Hillary to help give them military support, Hillary turned her back on them and then participated in the B S narrative the attack on Americans in Libya was due to a spontaneous demonstration from an anti muslim video. Despite being a liar with zero moral moral character, if Trump is the Repub candidate, Hillary has an excellent chance of becoming the next pres of the US because racist Trump has lost the vote of almost all non Caucasian voters. This is NOT refelected in most polls because these group of people, especially those in keynswing states cannot stand Trump remain silent and do not participate in polls. With the changing demographics of the US, no candidate with only support by Caucasian voters can now win a US presidential election as the Obama re election over Romney has shown. That is the ace in the hole with the Hillary campaign if she has to go face Trump. When they paint him as a racist, which he has shown to be in his own words, that will swing almost Hispanic, African American, Asian and even Jewish and Muslim Americans to consider Hillary as the lessor of two evils over Trump.

    • “She is a very forgiving person with excellent credentials”? What planet are you living on? Hillary is one of the more angry, hate spewing politicians out there. Most of her “debate” diatribes were attacking the other party. She only does what will promote her to something better. If she is indicted for the “TOP SECRET” emails she had on her server, then she’s out anyway. But she’ll fight and lie and cheat to keep that from happening.

    • I must agree. Is it an indicator of changing social mores that we can’t seem to find the inspirational leaders willing to become candidates? (and this is true of all of the political parties) Perhaps the huge amount of money that it takes to mount a campaign these days discourages some otherwise qualified idealists. Don’t know but I don’t like having to (in the words of the 18th century Royal Navy) “Choose the lesser of two weevils.” Of course, this isn’t just true of national politics either.

      • It could be that good quality candidates are afraid to run against Hillary for fear of ending up like Vince Foster and other people associate with Clinton scandals – death by suicide, murder or mysterious causes.

  • During the exchange between Clinton and Sanders regarding the breach of Hillary’s campaign data, Sanders said that about two months ago, his campaign discovered that the Clinton campaign breached his data maintained on a server by the DNC, but he did no go public with the discovery as Hillary and DNC did about the recent breach by his staff. He instead went to the DNC and had the issued resolved quietly. I believe Hillary quickly accepted Sanders’ apology to avoid more discussion about her campaign’s breach of Sanders’ data. The moderators should have picked up on this issue but they did not.

  • Clinton specifically was asked by a moderator if she accepted responsibility for the chaos, turmoil and terrorism that has ensued in Libya since the Kaddafi regime change in 2011 which she advocated as Secretary of State. Clinton danced around the question but refused to say yes or no despite being asked three times by the moderator to answer the question. If she does not get indicted for her handling of classified materials on her secret server and if she becomes the Democrat nominee for president, her key role in the Libyan disaster surely will be front and center during the debates in 2016.

    • I would’ve respected her more if she admitted her fault in the Libyan crisis. Hillary won’t be able to take the heat and will crumble against the GOP candidate.

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