Former secretary of state criticises senator over healthcare and gun policy while Sanders points to his D-minus rating from the NRA
Hillary Clinton continued her assault on Bernie Sanders healthcare policy and record on gun control on Sunday, hours before the Democratic presidential candidates were to meet on a debate stage in Charleston.
Clinton welcomed what she called a flip-flop by Sanders, after he said on Saturday that he supported legislation that would repeal a 2005 law granting gun manufacturers legal immunity that he supported.
Senator Sanders has for years voted many times on behalf of the NRA gun lobby position and one of the most egregious of those votes was the vote to give immunity from all liability to gun makers and sellers, Clinton said on ABCs This Week.
He flip-flopped last night said he would sign on to a bill that is currently pending in the House and Senate to repeal that liability, and Im delighted that he has had a change of heart.
Clinton then called on her rival to support legislation that would close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows licensed dealers to finalize a gun sale without a completed background check if it takes authorities longer than 72 hours to process the request.
The loophole is so called because it enabled Dylann Roof, who killed nine churchgoers in Charleston last June, to purchase his gun.
Sanders defended his changed position on CNNs State of the Union, arguing that he had supported the bill for months but there had been parts of it he did not agree with.
I resent very much the Clinton camp saying Im in the NRA lobby, he said. I have a D-minus, thats a D like in David, voting record from the NRA.
He also noted that he likely lost a 1988 congressional race in part because he supported a ban on assault weapons, which the gun lobby forcefully opposed.
The candidates have also been arguing over Sanders yet-to-be-released healthcare plan, which Clinton has said would unwind the progress made by Obamas Affordable Care Act. In turn, liberals have said Clinton is aligning herself with Republicans by attacking a fellow Democrats proposal for universal healthcare.
It disappoints me that the Clinton campaign is sounding like Republicans, Sanders said on ABC.
On CNN, Clinton said: All I can say is that the only health plan we know of from Senator Sanders is whats described in the legislation that he has introduced nine times in the Congress, in the Senate. And it does turn all of the programs we know of that provide healthcare over to the states.
The federal government would provide a big portion of the cost, but states would be mandated to also pay considerably, about 14% of the cost. Thats whats in his bill. So, I think anyone who wants to compare and contrast, since we dont have any more current plan from Senator Sanders, has to look at the legislation that he introduced.
Clinton also defended her daughter Chelsea, who has drawn criticism for publicly accusing the senator of attempting to dismantle programs like Medicare as part of his push for single-payer healthcare.
Sanders said he respected Chelsea Clinton, but was a little disappointed that what Chelsea said was inaccurate.
On yet another front in the intensifying fight between the two campaigns, a top Clinton ally demanded that the 74-year-old Vermont senator release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses.
Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, responded to comments by David Brock, founder of the Correct the Record political action committee, calling it a new, vile super PAC attack on Bernie.
Clintons campaign chairman, John Podesta, told Brock on Twitter to chill out. Were fighting on who would make a better president, not on who has a better Physical Fitness Test, Podesta wrote.
On Sunday, Clinton said she didnt know anything about the argument, while noting that she had already released her medical records. Sanders said he would absolutely release his health records in due time, while emphasizing that he was in good medical health.
The candidates have been locked in a war of words as Clinton faces unexpectedly stiff competition from her progressive challenger in the early voting states. Recent polls have shown Sanders closing in on Clintons once commanding lead in Iowa, days before voting begins there. He also maintains a lead in New Hampshire.
However, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday found that Clinton still holds a strong national lead, despite a sharp generational divide among Democratic voters.
The former secretary of state was the first choice of 59% of Democratic primary voters in the poll, while Sanders earned the support of 34%. Former Maryland governor Martin OMalley had 2%.
A New York Times/CBS survey found the race tightening nationally, with Clinton leading 48% to 41%. The poll also found that Democratic primary voters under 45 favored Sanders over Clinton by a roughly two-to-one ratio.
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