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Mitch Perry Report for 4.15.16 – The Brawl in Brooklyn

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Remember when we used to hold debates in this country?

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it had been more than five weeks between debates before Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders engaged on the issues last night in a raucous two-hour forum in Brooklyn.

While it can be annoying to have the audience cheering and jeering, somehow it felt appropriate in the Big Apple – it reminded me of the time when Al Gore and Bill Bradley engaged in a Manhattan duel back in 2000.

There weren’t necessarily any surprises, other than Sanders daring to actually speak positively about the Palestinian people – something essentially verboten in our national politics.

One of Clinton’s best moments – and Sanders’ worst – was on the issue of guns. While Bernie’s s support for giving gun makers immunity from lawsuits might be fine in a general election, it’s devastating in a Democratic primary. He didn’t do well in that exchange.

Clinton proved most vulnerable in her continuing refusal to release the transcripts to her speeches to Wall Street firms. Seriously, how bad can it be? Pretty bad, one might think in the way that she is fighting against it.

And while we’re on the subject of a lack of transparency,what could possibly be bad in Bernie Sanders tax returns? There is speculation that A) he didn’t give much to charity, and B) he’s taken a lot of deductions. Who knows if that’s accurate? His refusal to release such forms invites such idle speculation.

I’ve been critical of Sanders lack of specificity on foreign policy. He actually did better than previously on that subject last night.

On style points, Clinton was the winner. Bernie is never going to be slick, and his fans love for that.

There was a lot of yelling going on, prompting moderator Wolf Blitzer to tell the candidates to behave themselves.

“If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you,” Blitzer said.

“OK,” Sanders said

“So please…” Blitzer started.

“I will…” Sanders interrupted.

“— don’t talk over each other.” Blitzer finished.

 Followed by another minute of the two talking over each over.

I’ve said throughout this campaign cycle that these debates rarely move the needle – remember when people thought Donald Trump’s anti-George W. Bush comments on Iraq would hurt him in South Carolina? Or the fact that Marco Rubio arguably won every one of the first series of debates, and got little to no bounce out of it?

There hasn’t been a poll I’ve seen that shows Sanders within single digits to Clinton in next Tuesday’s crucial primary in the Empire State. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist poll finds Clinton leading Sanders by 17 percentage-points, 57% to 40%.

In other news..

Florida Strong hits Tampa state House Republican Dana Young as part of their “Got ethics?” campaign.

The Tampa City Council talked tough to Florida Dept. of Transportation officials regarding the relocation of residents because of the TBX project.

Among the properties that FDOT planned to tear down was the building leased to Tampa Heights citizens for a community center. State lawmakers Ed Narain and Tom Lee took a bow at the center on Thursday for procuring over $1 million from the Legislature that will move the property to a different site.

Tom Lee has been redrawn out of her state senate district in Brandon this year. He tells FP that he may run for office in Hillsborough County this year.

And former Cuban prisoner Alan Gross and humanitarian will speak at USF next Tuesday.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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