PBS’s Ifill to Sanders: Would You Be ‘The Instrument of Thwarting History’ If You Beat Hillary?

After having started off with a number of surprisingly solid questions in Thursday’s PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate, co-moderator Gwen Ifill wondered to socialist Senator Bernie Sanders if he’s concerned that he “will be the instrument of thwarting history” if he defeats Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary as part of her second campaign to be the first female president. 

Here’s the full question from Ifill around 9:28 p.m. Eastern Time: “Senator, do you worry at all that you will be the instrument of thwarting history as Senator Clinton keeps claiming as she might be the first woman president?”

The Vermont senator offered a brief answer by claiming that having someone such as him (i.e. a socialist) offers “an historical point of view” and thus “a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well.”

Clinton immediately responded and claimed that she’s “not asking people to support me because I'm a woman” but because of her record, endorsements from liberal feminist, pro-abortion groups and desire to protect “women’s rights” from Republicans:

I have said many times, you know, I'm not asking people to support me because I'm a woman. I'm asking people to support me because I think I'm the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander in chief....I was very proud to get the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund because I’ve been a leader on these issues. I have gone time and time again to take on the vested interests who would keep women’s health care decisions the province of the government instead of women ourselves. I'm very proud that NARAL endorsed me because when it comes to it, we need a leader on women's issues[.] 

The relevant portion of the transcript from the PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate on February 11 can be found below.

PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate
February 11, 2016
9:28 p.m. Eastern

GWEN IFILL: Senator, do you worry at all that you will be the instrument of thwarting history as Senator Clinton keeps claiming as she might be the first woman president? 

INDEPENDENT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (Vt.): Well, you know, I think from an historical point of view somebody with my background, somebody with my views, somebody who has spent his entire life taking on the big money interests, I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well.

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I have said many times, you know, I'm not asking people to support me because I'm a woman. I'm asking people to support me because I think I'm the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander in chief and I appreciate greatly Senator Sanders voting record and I was very proud to get the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund because I’ve been a leader on these issues. I have gone time and time again to take on the vested interests who would keep women’s health care decisions the province of the government instead of women ourselves. I'm very proud that NARAL endorsed me because when it comes to it, we need a leader on women's issues. Somebody who, yes votes right, but much more than that, leads the efforts to protect the hard-fought gains that women have made, that make no mistake about it, are under tremendous attack. Not just by the Republican presidential candidates but by a whole national effort to try to setback women's rights, so I'm asking women, I'm asking men, to support me because I'm ready to go into the White House on January 20th, 2017 and get to work on both domestic and foreign policy challenges. 

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