I was only able to watch about a quarter of the CNN/Facebook/Univision debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton last night. From what I saw, Bernie obviously had some new found momentum and confidence in his performance and was pretty aggressive in taking it to Clinton.
Clinton, never one to back down, hit him back just has hard and also featured some new lines of attacks. Namely trying to tie Bernie Sanders to the Koch Brothers. I am not sure why she thinks this attack will work. If anybody is the face of the anti-Koch movement, it’s Bernie Sanders.
I will reserve judgement on the debate as a whole until I watch the rest; but one part of it I did see should be of concern to anybody supporting Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton campaign itself. She completely boxed herself in on the issue of deportation last night when she promised to never deport any children or any undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal backgrounds.
I’ll get to my thoughts on her response in a little bit. First, I want to point out the absurdity of the question. It was asked by Jorge Ramos, who in my view is an uncompromising activist disguised as a journalist. Think about it. Hillary Clinton has already promised to introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation to Congress within her first 100 days as president. She also promised to expand on President Obama’s executive orders deferring the deportation of undocumented immigrants (and their children) who have been here for years and are an integral part of American society, should immigration reform not pass.
Clinton has already moved to the left of Obama on the issue of immigration and yet, it still isn’t good enough for Ramos? Now he forces her to make this promise? In my opinion, it is absurd. Why force her to move further left on the issue when she doesn’t have to? And more importantly, why did she feel the need to follow Ramos down that path?
She put herself in a no-win situation. Not only is that promise almost impossible to keep, which will in turn anger many Hispanic voters; but it might alienate a lot people Clinton will need in the general election. A solid majority of Americans support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. As they should. But Clinton’s deportation promise might be a bit too far for them.
I can see the ads now. Donald Trump or a right-wing Super PAC opposed to immigration reform could use that clip and set it against a photo montage of abandoned houses in Detroit, or hollowed out factory towns in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Their message will more or less be the following: illegal immigration caused all of this by driving down wages and taking jobs away from hard working Americans. Despite this fact, Hillary Clinton promised to not send any of them back to their home countries. Hillary Clinton claims to be on the side of the American worker; but her promise shows she is not on the side of the American worker. Mrs. Clinton; put America first. Not corporations.
If you don’t think that is going to resonate with a lot of people in the towns and communities devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs, you’re crazy.
Again, it was a ridiculous question, but Clinton exacerbated the problem with a bad answer. She should have stuck with her original answer saying she will avoid deporting said individuals as much as she can.
I still think Sanders being in the race makes Clinton a better candidate. However, last night was an example of the downside of Sanders still being in the race. He still has a tendency, this time with an assist from Jorge Ramos, to pull Clinton a little too far to the left.
To paraphrase Walter White, Clinton needs to tread lightly here.