Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton came under scrutiny from both Democratic and Republican opponents after highlighting her experience during the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
She invoked the attacks during Saturday night’s debate to defend having relationships with Wall Street donors. That relationship had been repeatedly criticised by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), whose campaign is primarily backed by small donors.
“I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked,” Clinton said during the debate. “Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild.”
Clinton’s comments drew a strong rebuke on social media:
Hillary Clinton mentioning 9/11 in the context of defending the banks is a cheap political trick. That’s a Republican move. #DemDebate
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) November 15, 2015
The debate’s moderators asked her to respond to one Twitter user who took issue with her comments.
“Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression, because I worked closely with New Yorkers after 9/11 for my entire first term to rebuild,” Clinton said. “I had a lot of folks give me donations from all kinds of backgrounds say, ‘I don’t agree with you on everything. But I like what you do. I like how you stand up. I’m going to support you.’ And I think that is absolutely appropriate.”
But she continued to draw fire for her comments after the debate. In a statement, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus called her remarks a “bizarre attempt to deflect attention from her ties to her wealthy donors.”
Lis Smith, the deputy campaign manager to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), slammed Clinton on Twitter:
And for his part, Sanders repeatedly dug into Clinton’s donors as he sparred with the former New York senator.
The two spent time speaking over each other when the moderators turned the topic to Wall Street regulation and reform.
“Let’s not be naive about it. Why over her political career, has Wall Street been a major — the major — campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton?” Sanders said.
He later added: “Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.”
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