Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Dominate First Democratic Debate

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Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would support a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana, saying he wanted to reduce the number of people sent to jail for drug use or minor possession.

“I suspect I would vote yes,” Sanders said, when asked how he might vote in an upcoming referendum in Nevada, where Tuesday night’s first Democratic debate was held. “And I would vote yes, because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed over non-violent offenses…We have to think through this war on drugs.”

His main Democratic rival, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, was asked a similar question. Clinton was not ready to take a position.

“No,” she said, saying she wanted to study the results of legalization measures in Colorado and Oregon. “I think that we have an opportunity . . . to find out a lot more than we know today,” Clinton said.

Clinton appeared confident, but her attempts to describe past accomplishments often turned out oddly. She praised the U.S. effort to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, but spent little time talking about the chaos that followed when Gaddafi was gone. To cast herself as tough on Wall Street, Clinton told a story of confronting bankers and telling them to “Cut it out”—a few months before a financial collapse that began with bad bets on Wall Street.

Sanders also appeared confident — even affable, by his own gruff standards — but fought with others about his record on gun control.

And the other three long shots looked like . . . long shots.

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley was unusually soft-spoken, for a man who desperately needed to seize the spotlight.

Jim Webb, the former senator from Virginia, had strong moments on foreign policy, but also spent much time complaining about how he’d been marginalized by the moderators.

And former Senator and Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee looked like a man who hadn’t prepared: Twice, he said he’d voted for a particular bill because a majority of other senators were doing it, and he went along.

But throughout the debate, the conversation was dominated by the two front-runners.

Asked to explain how she would be different than President Obama, Clinton cited her gender.

“I think that’s pretty obvious,” Clinton said, when asked during Tuesday night’s first Democratic presidential debate how her presidency would not be a “third term” for Obama. “I think being the first woman president would be quite a change.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper followed up: “Is there a policy difference?”

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Source: The Washington Post | David A. Fahrenthold