Hillary Clinton embraced President Barack Obama’s political legacy on Sunday, seeking to halt a late surge by rival Bernie Sanders, as fierce clashes over guns, health care and Wall Street ripped through the Democratic presidential debate.
With Sanders threatening to upset Clinton in the first two nominating contests next month, the former secretary of state sought to stall his momentum, puncture his progressive credentials and raise questions about whether the self-declared socialist has the skills and experience to be president.
She used the final debate before voting starts in Iowa and New Hampshire to make a case to faithful supporters of Obama, who some Clinton allies worry might be shifting to Sanders. She’ll need them to build a winning coalition capable of winning the Democratic nomination and mounting a successful race in the general election.
“I am going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, taking on the finance industry and getting results,” Clinton said.
Sanders, meanwhile, was far more comfortable in attacking Clinton than in his previous debate encounters, and the evening in Charleston, South Carolina, was notable more for personal clashes between the two of them rather than attacks on Republicans. He hit back at Clinton by insisting that Obama was his friend and took a swipe at Clinton over the lucrative months she spent on the speaking circuit after she left the State Department.
“I don’t take money from big banks, I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs,” Sanders said.