Sanders, not going away quietly, puts Clinton on defensive in Democratic debate – Los Angeles Times

Bernie Sanders made clear Sunday night that he is not about to ease up on Hillary Clinton in the interest of Democratic Party harmony — in fact, the Vermont senator seemed to be spoiling for a fight more than ever.

Clinton was repeatedly put on the defensive by her insurgent rival in a debate in Flint, where Sanders challenged her more personally and relentlessly than he has in previous matchups. If Clinton had hoped to use the nationally televised event as an opportunity to hone her attacks against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Sanders made that impossible. He would not be ignored.

As voters in Michigan prepare to cast ballots in their primary Tuesday, Sanders is looking to make a defiant stand in the Rust Belt, seeing the region as fertile territory for his brand of economic populism and for a comeback in a race in which he is in desperate need of a big upset.

He mocked Clinton’s record on trade and Wall Street, casting her as a late — and opportunistic — convert to progressive economics.

“Secretary Clinton supported virtually every one of the disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America,” he said, singling out the North American Free Trade Agreement reached by President Clinton’s administration in the 1990s — which, Sanders said, erased “tens of thousands of jobs” in the Midwest.

In contrast, Sanders offered his own early opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership under consideration by Congress.

“I understood that these trade agreements were going to destroy the middle class of this country,” he said. “I led the fight against” them.

Sanders spent much of the evening relitigating the Bill Clinton administration, which could ultimately prove ineffective. Sanders raised a number of landmark Clinton initiatives that liberals in the party continue to resent: NAFTA, welfare reform, the signature 1994 crime bill. But Bill Clinton is very popular with Democratic voters, most of whom remember the 1990s fondly as a period of rising wages and prosperity.

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