Before the closing statements at the Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.,Vt.) for disagreeing with President Barack Obama, prompting Sanders to ask Clinton if she had ever disagreed with Obama during his two terms as president.
“That is a low blow,” Sanders said. “Last I heard we lived in a democratic society. Last I heard a United States senator had the right to disagree with the president, including a president who has done such an extraordinary job. So I have voiced criticism, you’re right, maybe you haven’t. I have,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he was friends with Obama from his days as a senator and that Obama had traveled to Vermont to campaign for Sanders, but that on certain issues the president had not been liberal enough.
Clinton has been criticized by some for trying to tie herself to Obama’s record in hope that his winning electoral coalition will vote for her.
During the debate, Clinton touted her work as Secretary of State, work that led to the Iran nuclear deal and the diplomatic “reset” with Russia, among other significant policy shifts. She has often praised Obama for leading the country out of the recession.
“The kind of criticism I have heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect it from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” Clinton said.
Obama has not endorsed a candidate for the Democratic nomination but has said that he will campaign for whoever the nominee is. In a Politico interview, Obama praised both Clinton and Sanders.
“It means that she can govern, and she can start here, [on] day one, more experienced than any non-vice-president has ever been who aspires to this office,” Obama said of Clinton.
Obama said that Sanders had “great authenticity, great passion, and is fearless.”