NEW YORK - US Senator Bernie Sanders , a self-proclaimed socialist, lambasted rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her relationship with Henry Kissinger , who served under the Republican Nixon administration, calling him "one of the most destructive secretaries of state of the modern history of this country, as two candidates for Democratic Party's nomination for president clashed on foreign and domestic issues on Thursday night.
"In her book and in this last debate , [Clinton] talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger ," Sanders said on debate stage two days after his victory over Mrs. Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. "I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger ." Sanders blamed Kissinger for destabilizing the political situation in Southeast Asian countries and paving the way for the Khmer Rouge's mass killing of 3 million people in Cambodia.
It was "one of the worst genocides in the history of the world," Sanders said. "So, count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger ." Clinton, who during the last Democratic primary debate boasted of Kissinger complimenting her time as secretary, shot back: "Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is."
"Well it ain't Henry Kissinger ," Sanders interjected. "That's fine," Clinton said, going on to defend Kissinger 's policies with China as a net positive for the US "You know, I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas. I think it is fair to say whatever the complaints you want to make about him are, that with respect to China -- one of the most challenging relationships we have -- his opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship." Sanders responded with an attack that Kissinger 's China policies resulted in American jobs getting shipped overseas. The former secretary of state, Sanders said, was "not my kind of guy."
(Kissinger, 92, is also known for a testy encounter with former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at which he threatened the Pakistani leader with dire consequences if he went ahead with the nuclear programme. Bhutto refused to back down).
In an effort to recover from her New Hampshire defeat, Clinton sought to corner Sanders on details for his expansive government programmes, questioning how her opponent plans to pay for and accomplish single-payer health care and free college tuition. “We should level with the American people to make sure they get affordable health care every progressive economist that has analyzed this said the numbers don’t add up,” Clinton said. “We should not make promises we can’t keep that will further alienate Americans from believing that we can together make some real changes in peoples lives.”
“The last thing we need is to throw our country into a contentious debate about health care again,” she continued. “We are not England we are not Sweden.” The two met for a debate in Milwaukee on Thursday night, and early on, the two clashed on health care, called for criminal-justice reform and pay equity for women.With the race tenser and closer than either Democratic candidate had imagined, Thursday night’s debate was sharper, tenser and more combative than previous debates, and both candidates are expecting an increasingly acrimonious campaign.
“They’re throwing everything at me except the kitchen sink, and I have a feeling that kitchen sink is coming pretty soon too,” Sanders told a crowd on the night of his victory in New Hampshire. The next two primary contests in Nevada and South Carolina, both have large populations of Latinos and blacks, two groups among whom Clinton tends to poll much better than Sanders . Sanders , meanwhile, will seek to test Clinton’s ability to perform well among minorities.
Sanders has criticized Clinton for taking Wall Street donations and giving paid speeches to financial institutions. In the previous debate last week in Durham,New Hamshire, Clinton accused Sanders of making an “artful smear” against her, and challenged him to point to a case in which she was influenced by her donations. Sanders did not. If Sanders does criticize her more personally on Thursday night, it would reflect a significant turn in the tone of the race.
Clinton questioned Sanders’ foreign policy experience in the previous debate , and her allies have pointed to a mistake Sanders made last week when he said North Korea “is such an isolated country run by a handful of dictators, or maybe just one.” (North Korea has only one dictator.) Sanders had pointed to his vote against the Iraq War.
The two are preparing for a long nomination fight, with Sanders amassing huge funding from a robust online fundraising operation. The Vermont Senator raised more than $6 million in the 24 hours after the New Hampshire polls closed.