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Mitch Perry Report for 2.12.16 – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders clash in Milwaukee

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

While watching the first hour of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, I started thinking that Marco Rubio has gotten a bit of a bum rap.

For months (maybe longer), political reporters have complained that Rubio has liberally inserted his standard stump speech into his answers to questions on the campaign trail. That meme hit Def Com One Thursday week, of course, with his celebrated meltdown in front of a nationally televised audience. ( Those “Marcobots” from American Bridge who dogged Rubio in the waning days leading up to the New Hampshire primary say they’re not finished yet).

The fact of the matter is that all of the candidates use portions of their campaign speeches into their regular dialogue, and Bernie Sanders was just the most egregious example of that Thursday night during his debate with Hillary Clinton in Milwaukee.

I can say that with some authority, having been to two Sanders speeches in New Hampshire this   past week.

If it seems like so many things (including improving race relations) for Bernie always comes back to a “rigged economy” and the evils of Wall Street, it’s because that’s the central theme of his campaign. And he trotted that out constantly Thursday night.

There was pressure on Clinton to perform, having lost to Sanders by 22 points on Tuesday. She was on the offense immediately, though without her slash-and-burn tactics from last week’s debate on MSNBC.

Thursday night was huge for Sanders, though. There are probably millions of Americans who have just started paying attention to him, now that that the primary season has begun and he has had such success.  They’re looking at him with the idea of: Can this guy be our next president?

Another favorite Bernie meme is to attack Clinton for her vote giving authorization to then-President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq in the fall of 2002. It’s a huge vote that Clinton has apologized for, but it still has resonance in Democratic precincts. However, Clinton checkmated Bernie when she said, “I  do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS in 2016.”

Sanders then blasted Clinton for getting advice from Henry Kissinger, a bugbear on the left. However, she shot back, “Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.”

“Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger,” Sanders replied. “That’s for sure.”

True, but it would help him if he hire some respected foreign policy analysts. Right now he hasn’t, and I think that’s going to catch up with him down the line. Governors who run for president usually do that, because they haven’t had a lot of foreign policy experience. It’s a smart thing to do.

Sanders succeeded much more in the domestic part of the debate. Plus, Clinton remains vulnerable regarding her ties to Wall Street. Sanders had a great response to Clinton’s comment that “if you take donations from Wall Street, you can’t be independent.”

“The people aren’t dumb,” Sanders replied. “Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it; they want to throw money around.”

The audience chuckled and applauded.

In other news …

Kathy Castor is headed back to Cuba Saturday. She’ll lead a bipartisan congressional delegation, including Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer.

• • •

Former Plant City Mayor John Dicks raised over $10,000 last month in his race for Hillsborough County Commission, though half of that came from his own checkbook. It also came in only 10 days.

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A civil forfeiture reform bill advanced in a senate committee in Tallahassee on Thursday.

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The Congressional Black Caucus PAC (not the CBC) has endorsed Clinton for president.

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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