In the latest round of interviews with the Democratic presidential candidates, both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont trained their sights not on each other, but against Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
On Mar. 30, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow interviewed both Clinton and Sanders separately. The topic of conversation was less about the candidates’ rivalry and instead about the controversial statement given by Trump during an earlier town hall.
The business mogul, when pressed on the issue of abortion, asserted that women who seek the procedure should be legally punished. Almost immediately blasted by Democrats and Republicans alike, Trump quickly walked back his statement.
“What Donald Trump said today was outrageous and dangerous and [...] I’m constantly just taken aback at the kinds of things he advocates for,” Clinton said. She added that Trump’s pattern of rhetoric was routinely “outrageous and dangerous.”
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Sanders remarked that calling Trump’s gaffe “shameful is probably understating that position … To punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension.”
Both candidates agreed that the massive amount of media coverage had disproportionately helped Trump ascend to the top of the GOP polls. President Barack Obama had already slammed the press for enabling the business mogul.
On Mar. 28, President Obama told reporters during a journalism awards dinner that it was their duty to ask candidates tougher questions, and, “A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone,” according to NPR.
In comparison to Obama, Clinton was more diplomatic in chiding the media coverage of Trump.
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“Look, I’m not going to — you know, join in the chorus of bashing the press,” Clinton said. “But for a long time… I think the media just was in awe of the ratings spikes, and the amazing number of eyes that were willing to watch Trump do anything. And so he was basically unchallenged.”
Sanders was less forgiving, stating that if the press properly focused on the substance of the Republican candidates’ policies, the GOP would become a “fringe party.”
“The Republican Party today now is a joke, maintained by a media which really does not force them to discuss their issues,” Sanders said. “All that I'm saying is that Trump is nobody’s fool. He knows how to manipulate the media and you say an absurd thing and the media is all over it.”
Clinton blamed the GOP establishment for creating an environment where Trump could thrive, adding that if they were appalled by the business mogul’s policies then “they should look in the mirror.”
The former Secretary of State added that Trump’s foreign policy stances had left U.S. allies panicked that the business mogul could be president. Sanders summed up Trump’s effect on the GOP primary as “an international embarrassment.”
Clinton is currently the odds-on favorite to become the Democratic nominee, although Sanders has gained ground is several upcoming state showdowns.
According to a Marquette Law School poll, Sanders is leading in the upcoming Wisconsin primary by 49.2 percent while Clinton is currently clocking 44.9 percent support, The Hill reports.