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Clinton and Sanders dominate policy-deep Democratic debate

The first Democratic debate between five presidential candidates sharpened into a two-person heavyweight match between between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over capitalism and gun control. Political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Democratic candidates for president got back on the campaign trail today after an issues-packed debate last night.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins reports on what we learned from their first five-way face-to-face encounter.

  • Anderson Cooper,

    Moderator: Please welcome the Democratic candidates for president of the United States.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The five-person Las Vegas stage quickly morphed into a two-person heavyweight match, as Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was asked if he is also a capitalist.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders,

    Democratic Presidential Candidate: Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process, by which so few have so much, and so many have so little, by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It was a symbolic start to a policy deep-debate, and Hillary Clinton moved to critique, but defend the system.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton,

    Democratic Presidential Candidate: It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism, but we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.

  • Anderson Cooper:

    Senator Sanders?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Clinton pointed to her experience.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know…

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    … how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I have had.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    She soon went on offense, highlighting Sanders’ vote against a prominent gun control bill.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady Bill. Since it was passed, more than two million prohibited purchases have been prevented.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The Vermont senator insisted he, too, wants gun control, but he argued the issue is complicated.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders:

    As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The two rivals did unite for a marquee moment on Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    Well, I have taken responsibility for it. I did say it was a mistake.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders:

    I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    Thank you. Me too. Me too.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Clinton and Sanders dominated. Each spoke for about 30 minutes, according to NewsHour’s analysis, twice as long as anyone else on stage.

    Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley tried for a share of the spotlight, hitting Clinton for not pushing to separate big banks and investment firms.

  • Martin O’malley,

    Democratic Presidential Candidate: You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky shadow banking behavior.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Sanders jumped in.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders:

    When you have the three…

  • Anderson Cooper:

    Senator…

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders:

    … largest banks in America are much bigger than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have got to break them up.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Clinton wouldn’t go that far, but said that banks need strong scrutiny.

    On either side of the stage, two other opponents struggled to be heard.

  • Jim Webb,

    Democratic Presidential Candidate: I have been waiting for 10 minutes. I will say this.

  • Anderson Cooper:

    You’re over your time.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee spoke their minds, but landed few punches.

    Voters can next judge the Democratic hopefuls side by side one month from today in Des Moines.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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