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Much of the analysis from last week’s Democratic debate focused on which candidates "won” or “lost,” or had the best or worst moments. But NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield tells Hari Sreenivasan the debate also revealed a significant division among the candidates, as progressives and moderates battle for control of the party.
Much of the analysis from last week's Democratic debate focused on who won or lost or had the best or worst moments. But our special correspondent Jeff Greenfield says the debate also revealed a significant division among the candidates. He joins us now from Santa Barbara, California. So is this the split between the progressive father-left wing and moderates of the Democrats?
Yeah I think that is coming into full display now. There is in social media a sense that the left is ascendant in Democratic Party ranks and they clearly have moved to somewhat in that direction. Public opinion polls say more Democrats want to see a more center-left and moderate position. So you had in the first part of the debate Joe Biden pushing back very hard on Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. How you gonna pay for this? Amy Klobuchar: what you're saying you really want to take away private health insurance from 140 million people some of whom like it? And there's a concern on the moderate side that if the Democrats are a party of no private health insurance, reparations, more or less open borders and immigration this is going to turn off those swing voters. Whereas on the left the argument is no boldly progressive positions will bring new voters in from the ranks of minorities from the ranks of women and that's how we win and this is an argument I think you're going to hear over and over again as the campaign moves on.
I want to bring back also one of the answers that or non-answers that vice president was asked a question about the legacy of slavery and it was kind of convoluted but his response was. But it ended up kind of having a different effect after the fact.
It was a word salad, but he seemed to be saying, apart from me we need more help in federal aid and education, we need to get social workers to help parents of black kids who may not be able to function right. We we want to leave, this was the famous answer, we want to leave the record player and radio on in their homes because black children hear fewer words than whites. That's a study that's been debunked and it's important not because it created a firestorm. He survived this in the short run. But I think the key here is that no Democrat can win the nomination without a significant share of the black vote. Walter Mondale won it that way, Barack Obama won it that way, Hillary Clinton won it four years ago that way. And Biden has a huge lead three and a half to one among anybody else in the race among African-Americans because he does have a long record. Anything that jeopardizes that is a really serious problem for Biden.
You also love to bring up the undercovered, the stories that kind of got buried this week and usually the tweet storms that end up making news. So what are some of the stories this week that you caught your eye?
Well there was a hearing at the Senate Banking Committee that that's not necessarily the most thrilling thing I could begin with. But at the hearing Treasury Department officials and some senators said you know what these giant mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are severely undercapitalized. They're underwriting or guaranteeing trillions of dollars in mortgages with nowhere near the amount of money they need in case there was an increase in defaults that leveraging is the key to what happened 10 years ago when the entire world economy almost went under and we had the great recession. And so what you hope is that a year from now we're not going to be looking at this undercover hearing. I saw an article only in Politico Magazine about this and say gee, why didn't we pay more attention to the fact that we're we seem to be running the same kind of risk that got us in such horrible trouble a decade ago? I'm hoping that doesn't happen to be the case but I got some concerns here.
Jeff Greenfield joining us from Santa Barbara. Thanks so much.
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