Democrats tangle over Obama legacy, Sanders' plan price tag at PBS NewsHour debate

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Democratic presidential rivals moved on from Milwaukee today, fresh off their "PBS NewsHour" debate.

But the arguments they had on stage continued at long distance.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: As I pointed out last night, he has called the president weak, a disappointment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton returned to South Carolina this afternoon and to a line of attack she used in last night's debate, that Bernie Sanders has distanced himself from President Obama.

HILLARY CLINTON: The kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: That is…


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Madam Secretary, that is a low blow.

But you know what? 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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Vermont senator also defended his plans for enlarging government's role to allow for free college tuition and a single-payer health care system.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: When today you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when the middle class is disappearing, you have the highest rate of child poverty of almost any major country on Earth, yes, in my view, the government of a democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure all of our people have a decent standard of living.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Clinton was quick to charge that Sanders' proposals are, in effect, grandiose and unworkable.

HILLARY CLINTON: The best analysis that I have seen, based on Senator Sanders' plans, is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40 percent.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the former secretary of state said the price tag of going to government-run health care would simply be too high.

HILLARY CLINTON: Every progressive economist who has analyzed that says that the numbers don't add up, and that's a promise that cannot be kept. This is not about math. This is about people's lives, and we should level with the American people about what we can do to make sure they get quality, affordable health care.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders countered that Clinton's claims are inaccurate, and he talked up his idea of higher taxes on Wall Street and having the wealthy to pay for his plans. It was part of his stepped-up pitch to minority voters.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids, so they're not hanging out on street corners.

And I think when you give low-income kids — African-American, white, Latino kids — the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They're going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders moved on to campaign in Minnesota today.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: OK. We're spinning around. Hi. Hi.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the Republican contenders made stops all across South Carolina. And Jeb Bush's campaign called in his brother and former President George W. Bush to join him in the state on Monday.

But front-runner Donald Trump dismissed that move during a rally in Louisiana last night.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: And I see he is bringing his brother in now. He's bringing — he tried the mother, who is a very nice lady, I'm sure, but he tried the mother. That didn't work out so good. Now he is bringing in his brother. I won't say anything.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the opposite end of public opinion polls, Ben Carson sought to rally his flagging support today at a Faith and Family Forum in Greenville, South Carolina.

BEN CARSON (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will come along and say, it's those evil rich people and that's what's causing you your problem. No, it's not the evil rich people. It's the evil government, and we need to get them under the control.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican voters in South Carolina will have their say on February 20. The Democratic caucuses in Nevada are that same day.

And late today, word came that former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is dropping out of the Republican race. He had been a nonfactor in the voting thus far.

We will turn to Shields and Brooks for full analysis of the race on both sides and the Democratic debate later in the program.