It took eight debates of build up but Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders finally dropped the gloves and came out of the gate swinging in Clinton v Sanders IX. It was only fitting that Brooklyn was the setting where two political warriors dropped the polite pretense and came out to play.
While neither Democratic candidate delivered a decisive knockout punch, they consistently rang each other’s bells and delivered flurries of body blows over the course of the two hour debate. Sanders flashed a fiery irritability that no doubt left some his more causal bros wondering what happened to that nice old man and Clinton, while evasive at times, was more tactical and calculating than Floyd Mayweather when it came to striking for maximum effect.
Sanders wasted no time in hammering Clinton on her Goldman Sachs speeches and she countered with Sanders’ arguably shaky history on gun control issues. The two candidates then traded blows over minimum wage and drug reform.
It wasn’t until the middle rounds that the two candidates began to pace themselves during a lengthy measured and rational discussion about Israel. For viewers used to the venomous rhetoric that’s a staple of Republican contests, there was nary a mention of Mulisms or a wall to close off Mexico from the US. Roe v Wade did make an appearance when Clinton veered slightly off-topic when she brought up the subject of women’s reproductive health and took the gamemakers to task for not asking a single question on the matter over the course of eight debates. It was a bold, smart move that instantly carved Clinton a new niche to further distance herself from Sanders.
Both candidates played to their respective audiences with their final statements. Sanders hammered home that he's an immigrant's son and a Brooklyn native to massive hometown cheers and promised a day of reckoning for the big banks on corporations. Hillary didn't flinch at the hype and calmly reminded the audience of her successes as a New York Senator and strongly reiterated that she was not making promises that would be impossible to keep.
If this debate were the main event in an Atlantic City fight night, the judges would have very hard time declaring a winner. However, if you asked a Hillary or Bernier supporter they'd naturally say their candidate was the clear winner.
The most telling sign the fight between Clinton and Sanders will go the distance was revealed at the conclusion of the debate. Both candidates ignored each other and declined to shake hands with a frostiness the Democratic side has yet to see this election cycle.