The Biggest Moments Of The Brawl In Brooklyn — & What Women Really Think About The Candidates

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at each other during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN on Thursday ahead of New York's primary.
It’s being called the Brooklyn brawl and the night the gloves came off. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sparred in New York on Thursday night during the final debate before the state's primary on April 19.

Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, and Clinton, who served two terms as senator, both claim the state as home turf. But as the night's contentious debate made clear, neither is taking anything for granted in the run-up to Tuesday’s voting. Within the first few minutes, both candidates were attacking each other’s judgment and record on a number of issues, including financial reform, gun control, and foreign policy.

"Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does. But I do question her judgment," Sanders said, adding that he disagrees with her stances on a number of issues, from the Iraq War to receiving campaign contributions from Wall Street.
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I think you need to have the judgment on day one to be both president and commander-in-chief.

Hillary Clinton
Clinton fought back, questioning whether Sanders has any specifics to his policy prescriptions, referencing the scrutiny he faced for ringing vague in an interview with the New York Daily News. (The paper has since endorsed Clinton.)

"When asked about a number of foreign policy issues, he could not answer about Afghanistan, about Israel, about counterterrorism, except to say if he'd had some paper in front of him, maybe he could. I think you need to have the judgment on day one to be both president and commander-in-chief," Clinton said.

Though Clinton currently leads with 1,307 delegates to Sanders' 1,087, Sanders has been steadily closing the gap, winning eight of the last nine state contests. And the 291 delegates up for grabs in New York's primary could be a game changer.

The debate was a last-minute add to an already packed campaign schedule. Clinton’s campaign strategist previously made headlines when he implied in an interview with CNN that she would not debate Sanders in New York because of the Vermont senator's "tone." Clinton later said she was open to the possibility. But the tone of the evening was anything but friendly.
Photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images.
Hillary Clinton supporters rallied outside the debate.
Clinton bristled when asked why she would not release the transcripts of three speeches for which she was reportedly paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs. She quickly turned the tables on Sanders, asking why he hadn't yet released his tax returns to the public.

"I have said, look, there are certain expectations when you run for president. This is a new one," Clinton said. "But I will tell you this, there is a long-standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns. You can go to my website and see eight years of tax returns... I think every candidate, including Senator Sanders and Donald Trump, should do the same."

The candidates came together in their support of abortion rights, but disagreed on fracking, how to tackle climate change, and a host of foreign policy decisions from Israel to Libya. At times, the debate's moderator had to remind them not to shout over each other.

And the divisions inside the debate hall mirrored those in the streets outside. Hundreds of people — both Clinton and Sanders supporters — waited beyond the gates of the Brooklyn Navy Yard for one of the biggest debates of the 2016 race to begin. The candidates' supporters took over opposite sides of the street, competing with chants and waving signs.

I have five jobs and still only made $30,000 last year.

Lizbeth Sawyers, Bernie Sanders supporter
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For Michelle Murphy, who stood waving a Hillary placard outside the debate entrance, the choice was clear. Murphy said she voted for Clinton twice as senator and drove down from her home in Westchester to make her voice heard ahead of the primary.

"I love Hillary, I'm ready for a woman president and I'm not afraid to say that I want her because she is a woman," Murphy said.

She said she remembers the bad old days of being a woman in the workplace.

"I'm a lawyer, you go to court. When I had little kids, if they were sick, you couldn't say that. If they asked: 'Why are you late?' You couldn't say: 'My kid was in pre-K and he threw up.' You had to lie, or get someone to cover for you. That was unacceptable," Murphy said.

Murphy told Refinery29 that her own daughter and her friends who support Bernie Sanders "don't get it."

"I'm here with two other friends. We are in our mid- to late 50s and we all have twentysomething daughters, all of whom are feeling the Bern. And each one of them has said to us individually, 'We know [Hillary's] going to win, and we will vote for her in November, but we like his message, so we just want to make a statement now,'" Murphy said.

"That makes me feel good and I appreciate they feel passion and are a part of this process. But they don't know subtle sexism. If you interview someone my age who has worked in a profession for 30 years, I could give you 100 examples," Murphy said.
Photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images.
Bernie Sanders fans gathered on the other side of the street outside the debate to show their support.
On the other side of the street, 27-year-old Lizbeth Sawyers, who helped organize the pro-Bernie rally, said her decision was equally clear.

"I have five jobs and still only made $30,000 last year, and then I paid a significant amount of that in taxes because I am an independent contractor for a lot of it, and teachers don't make much," Sawyers told Refinery29.

"I actually just paid my student loans off. It took me 10 years, and I didn't do anything I wanted to do. I didn't drink, I didn't like buy myself anything, I saved every penny and I finally paid them off last year. I still have yet to celebrate," she said.

Sawyers said it was Sanders' consistency and voting record that attracted her.

"I've never ever been a political person. I've never cared enough. But I look back at his track record and consistency is really what mattered to me," Sawyers said. "I'm happy to put my money into taxes because I know that it will go where it needs to go... I don't hold a grudge against wealthy people. I'm totally okay with having wealth. That's wonderful, just make sure that you're distributing as much as the rest of us, you know?"

Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does. But I do question her judgment.

Bernie Sanders
Both Sanders and Clinton closed the debate pledging to keep fighting until the end — even if that means all the way to the Democratic National Convention this summer.

"Having won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries, and having a level of excitement and energy among working people and low-income people, doing better against Donald Trump and the other Republicans in poll after poll than Secretary Clinton is, yeah, I believe that we're going to win this nomination, and I believe we're going to obliterate Donald Trump or whoever the Republican candidate is," Sanders said.

And when it came to uniting the party to take on their eventual Republican rival, both finally seemed to agree.

"I'm going to work my heart out here in New York until the polls close on Tuesday. I'm going to work in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Maryland, all the way through California. And when we end up with the number of delegates we need, we will unite the party and have a unified convention that we'll go onto the general election with," Clinton said.

For more on the Democratic debate in Brooklyn, visit Refinery29's Vote Your Values Facebook page. And check out our Vote Your Values poll, for which we surveyed millennial women about what issues matter to them, here.

Lilli Petersen, Andrea Simons, and Rebecca Farley contributed to this report from New York.
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