US Democratic Candidates Spar on Gun Control

US Democratic Candidates Spar on Gun ControlUS Democratic Candidates Spar on Gun Control

Candidates for the Democratic race for the White House have clashed on gun control and healthcare in their liveliest TV debate so far.

Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’ record on gun control and said his healthcare plan risked derailing recent legislation. Sanders accused Clinton of being in the pocket of financial institutions responsible for the 2008 crisis, BBC reported.

While Clinton leads nationwide, Sanders is a threat in key states.

This was the final Democratic debate before caucuses in Iowa on 1 February show who the state’s voters prefer as their candidate.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is trailing Clinton and Sanders in polls, also took part in the lively debate in which personal attacks were few and far between.

Sanders, a Vermont senator, announced his universal healthcare plan two hours before the debate started.

Clinton said any moves to scrap the current Affordable Healthcare Act risked plunging the Democrats into “contentious debate”. Instead, the party should work on improving the program, known as Obamacare.

Sanders responded: “Nobody is tearing this up.” He said he wanted to build on Obamacare.

This was a spirited, substantive debate, much more heated than the last three Democratic debates but still more civil than anything we’ve seen on the Republican side.

Sanders was on the offensive, buoyed by his recent gains in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton still has a double-digit lead nationally and was declared the winner of the debate by the American media.

O’Malley was nowhere to be seen, but Clinton and Sanders worked hard to sharpen the differences between them, particularly on gun control and healthcare.

The Vermont senator is gaining momentum in the north but is struggling to connect with the African-American community and minorities.

Gun control was the first subject in the two-hour debate that was held near a church in Charleston where nine parishioners were shot dead in June 2015.

Clinton released an advertisement this week attacking Sanders for his attitude towards gun control. His home state, Vermont, has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the US, with close to one in two households owning a weapon.

In the debate, she again highlighted legislation she said showed that Sanders supported the gun lobby.

But Sanders told the debate he had a “D minus voting record” from the National Rifle Association, and fully supported moves by President Barack Obama for tougher background checks on gun buyers.