In Michigan Debate, Clinton Targets Sanders Over Auto Industry Bailout

Two days before the Michigan primary, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the auto industry bailouts at Sunday’s CNN debate.

“If everyone had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed,” she said in front of an audience in Flint, Michigan, not far from Detroit.

Clinton fired the opening shot for Sanders’ opposition to the auto industry bailout.

“I voted to save the auto industry. He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry,” she said.

Sanders countered that Clinton also supported the financial industry bailout and the exchange got so heated that at one point, he cut her off.

“Excuse me, I’m talking,” he said, as she tried to interject during his attack on her Wall Street connections. “I will tell my story and you tell yours. “

“Your story is voting for disastrous trade agreements and corporate America. Did I vote against the bailout when billionaires destroyed this economy, they went to Congress and said, ‘Please, we will be good boys, bail us out,”” Sanders said. “You know what I said? Let the billionaires themselves bail out Wall Street. It shouldn’t be the middle class of this country.”

Sanders actually supported a bailout for the auto industry when it came up as standalone legislation in December 2008. However that billed failed to make it out of the Senate. The auto bailout was eventually funded through the larger legislation passed and signed into law earlier, in October 2008, that bailed out the financial industry. Sanders had opposed the earlier bailout legislation.

At the debate, Sanders also bashed Clinton for her support for various trade deals — a criticism she responded to by pointing to a trade deal she opposed when she was a senator. He also mocked the Export Import Bank, a federal agency that offers loans to businesses and has the support of many Democrats as well as business-aligned Republicans.

“Isn’t it tragic that the large multinational corporations making billions and shutting down in America and going to China and going to Mexico?” Sanders said sarcastically. “Absolutely they need a handout from the American middle class. I don’t think so.”

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