Maddow Wonders to Hillary If She’s ‘Too Far to the Right’ for Democrats to Be the Nominee

MSNBC host and Thursday’s Presidential Candidates Debate co-moderator Rachel Maddow wondered aloud to Hillary Clinton whether some of the positions she’s held at various points warrant concern for the Democratic Party that she’s “too far to the right...to be the party's standard bearer” in the 2016 general election.

Turning to Clinton, Maddow began by noting that “Senator Sanders is campaigning against you now, at this point in the campaign basically arguing that you are not Progressive enough to be the Democratic nominee.”

She went onto list positions she’s held on the Iraq War, the death penalty, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a comment about single-payer health care being unfeasible before wondering if she’s “too far to the right of the Democratic Party to be the party's standard bearer.” 

Maddow concluded: “Given those policy positions, why should liberal Democrats support you and not Senator Sanders?”

In part, Clinton used the question to attack Sanders and beat the proverbial drum that she’s supposedly a progressive: 

I am a progressive who gets things done. The root of that word, progressive, is progress. I've heard Senator Sanders comments and it's really caused me to wonder who's left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Under his definition, President Obama is not Progressive because he took donations from wall Street. Vice President Biden is not Progressive because she supported keystone. Senator Saheen is not progressive because she supports the trade pact. Even the late, great Senator Paul Wellstone would not fit this definition because he voted for DOMA.

The relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s Democratic Candidates Debate on February 4 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Democratic Candidates Debate
February 4, 2016
9:11 p.m. Eastern

RACHEL MADDOW: Secretary Clinton, senator Sanders is campaigning against you now, at this point in the campaign basically arguing that you are not progressive enough to be the Democratic nominee. He's said if you voted for the Iraq War, if in favor of the death penalty, if you wobbled on things like the Keystone Pipeline or TPP, if you said single-payer health care could never happen then you're too far to the right of the Democratic Party to be the party's standard bearer. Given those policy positions, why should liberal Democrats support you and not Senator Sanders? 

HILLARY CLINTON: I am a progressive who gets things done. The root of that word, progressive, is progress. I've heard Senator Sanders comments and it's really caused me to wonder who's left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Under his definition, President Obama is not progressive because he took donations from wall Street. Vice President Biden is not progressive because she supported keystone. Senator Saheen is not progressive because she supports the trade pact. Even the late, great Senator Paul Wellstone would not fit this definition because he voted for DOMA. You know, we have differences, and, honestly, I think we should be talk about what we want to do for the country, but if we're going to get into labels, I don't think it was particularly progressive to vote against the Brady bill five times. I don't think it was progressive to give gun makers immunity. I don't think it was progressive to vote against Ted Kennedy's immigration reform. So, we can go back and forth like there, but the fact is most people watching tonight want to know what we've done and what we will do. That's why I'm laying out a specific agenda that will make more progress, get more jobs with rising income, get us to universal health care coverage, get us to universal pre-k, paid family leave, and the other elements of what I think that will build a strong economy and ensure Americans will keep making progress. That's what I'm offering and that's what I will do as president. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center