Following a strong defense of Hillary Clinton during the first Democratic debate, Senator Bernie Sanders finally turned the tables on the former Secretary of State and went on the offensive on Sunday at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Throughout the night he highlighted Clinton’s shifting positions. His performance has been called fiery and bare-knuckle. The Sanders campaign emphasized that his speech was not the early stages of an all-out attack against Clinton in their race for the Democratic nomination. Symone Sanders, told Yahoo News on Sunday that she was surprised by some of the coverage of his speech.
Clinton said Saturday in Iowa that Sanders’ remarks came with a gender-related undercurrent. Sanders took aim at Hillary Clinton on everything from her vote for the Iraq War to her ambiguity on the Keystone XL Pipeline and trade deals. Though Sanders didn’t mention Clinton by name, the jabs weren’t subtle. Nor was the timing, coming after a two-week period in which Clinton had a solid debate performance, did well at a hearing before the Select Committee on Benghazi and saw one of her toughest competitors — Joe Biden — pass on a presidential run. During a CMM interview with Jake Tapper, Sanders declined to say whether this was a new strategy of the presidential campaign.
I have consistently been a critic of what is going on on Wall Street, the greed, the recklessness, the illegal behavior. I helped lead the effort to — against the deregulation of Wall Street. I believe that we should bring back Glass-Steagall legislation so that you do not have the absurd situation of commercial banks and investment banks and large insurance companies being together.”
Sanders used his speech to draw the sharpest contrast with Clinton of his campaign. On the issues he chose to highlight, Sanders said he had taken positions that challenged the establishment and were politically unpopular at the time. He suggested that Clinton came around only when the politics were more favorable and as the Democratic Party moved to the left.
Clinton and Sanders weren’t the only candidates on the stage Saturday. The other was former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. He showed off his oratorical skills and progressive record and used part of his speech to remind the audience that Sanders hasn’t been on the same page as many progressives on gun control, an issue that has gained significant currency for Democrats.
The Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Dinner is an event that has changed the course of some Democratic presidential campaigns. In the fall of 1999, then-Vice President Al Gore effectively ended former senator Bill Bradley’s challenge in the nomination campaign with his speech at the event. Obama’s 2007 speech gave his campaign a badly needed jolt of energy that eventually resulted in his caucus victory over Clinton, who finished third. Without Iowa, he might not have been elected president. Saturday did not reveal a clear winner but hinted of things to come from all three Democrat candidates.