- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

DURHAM, N.H. — Hillary Clinton launched the most aggressive attacks against Sen. Bernard Sanders so far in the campaign on Thursday night and accused her Democratic presidential primary rival of running an underhanded campaign based on “innuendo” and “insinuation” and trying to “smear” her record.

At a forum at the University of New Hampshire five days before Granite State voters go to the polls, Mrs. Clinton — trailing badly in the state and seemingly recognizing momentum is mounting behind Mr. Sanders — went on the attack, pulling no punches and vehemently denying that she’s beholden to Wall Street and will do the bidding of corporate America if elected president.

“Time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to, you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought. And I just absolutely reject that, senator,” she said. “And I really don’t think these kind of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough … I think it’s time to end the artful smear you and your campaign have been carrying out.”

Mr. Sanders has consistently criticized Mrs. Clinton for, among other things, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from firms such as Goldman Sachs after she left the State Department. On Thursday night, he again called Mrs. Clinton a creature of the “establishment.”

He even seemed to take shots at Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, hinting that the entire Clinton family has been corrupted by big money and Wall Street influence.

“Let’s talk about why in the 1990s Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with [the fact that] Wall Street spent billions of dollars on campaign contributions? Well, some people might think, yeah, that had something to do with it,” he said. “This is what goes on in America. There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system, and in my view, it is undermining American democracy.”


SEE ALSO: Sanders slams Clinton’s foreign policy judgment


With the crucial New Hampshire primary just days away, Mr. Sanders still has a significant lead over Mrs. Clinton, according to the latest polling that shows the former first lady’s narrow victory in Iowa has yet to pay off here in New Hampshire.

Despite being the overwhelming favorite just months ago, Mrs. Clinton won a razor-thin victory of two-tenths of a percent over Mr. Sanders in Iowa’s caucuses — the closest margin of victory in history for Democrats, the state party said.

And she’s received no winner’s bump in New Hampshire, where the first post-caucus polling says the race remains Mr. Sanders‘ to lose. The Marist-NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found Mr. Sanders with 58 percent support to Mrs. Clinton’s 38 percent — almost exactly the same as before Iowa. Two other polls released Thursday also found little good news for Mrs. Clinton.

“So far in New Hampshire, it’s all Sanders as Clinton faces an uphill fight,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

He said Mr. Sanders is winning a stunning portion of younger voters in the primary — something Mrs. Clinton confronted Wednesday in a forum aired on CNN, where she said she has work to do reminding young voters of her long record.

She also sought to explain the $675,000 she made for a series of three speeches to Goldman Sachs, saying she didn’t know if it was excessive but “that’s what they offered.”

She insisted the cash didn’t influence her — but on Thursday she would not commit to voluntarily releasing transcripts of those speeches.

“I will look into it. I don’t know what the status is, but I will certainly look into it,” she said.

As they fight for votes in New Hampshire, both candidates tried Thursday night to paint themselves as the most progressive candidate in the race. Mrs. Clinton even accused Mr. Sanders of acting like the “gatekeeper” of the progressive movement and denigrating all others who consider themselves liberal.

“I understand Senator Sanders is really trying to distinguish himself. I understand that. That’s what you do in campaigns,” she said. “But at the same time, let’s not be, in an unfair way, making an accusation or making an attack about where I stand and where I’ve always stood. And it is fair to say, senator, in your definition, you being the self-proclaimed gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t know anyone else who fits that definition.”

Mr. Sanders referred back to Mrs. Clinton’s previous comments in which she referred to herself as a “moderate.” He also said she’s too beholden to the political establishment to bring about the kind of real change progressives are looking for.

“She has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. That’s a fact,” he said.

Party officials say there’s still time for Mrs. Clinton to pull off an upset victory, just as she did in 2008 when she came from behind to defeat then-Sen. Barack Obama in New Hampshire.

“A lot of New Hampshire voters really do wait until the last weekend, the last day [to make a decision]. So there are still a lot of votes to be earned,” said Erik Corbett, chair of the Carroll County Democratic party.

But other Democratic officials said Mr. Sanders appears to be growing stronger.

“We’re seeing increasing amount of support on the Sanders side. We are definitely not seeing a shift in the other direction,” said Emily Jacobs, chair of the Coos County Democratic party. “We’re noticing more and more people putting up Bernie yard signs. It’s incredible. We’re also seeing a large amount of canvassing on that side.”

Ms. Jacobs said she’s personally backing Mr. Sanders, though she’s remained neutral in her official capacity as county chair.

In addition to growing support on the ground, there are other signs that there’s energy and excitement behind Mr. Sanders.

The Sanders campaign outraised the Clinton team in January, according to reports from the two sides. The Clinton campaign said it raised $15 million in January, while Mr. Sanders hauled in $20 million.

Mr. Sanders also has sworn off donations from wealthy donors and doesn’t have a Super PAC working on his behalf, endearing him to progressives who openly question whether Mrs. Clinton is too closely tied to Wall Street to truly affect change and enact new financial regulations.

Now losing the money war and faced with the prospect of losing in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton has begun to cast herself as the underdog — a curious strategy given the massive political machine she’s spent years building.

At the CNN town hall she rejected the idea of giving up on the state altogether and moving on to states such as South Carolina, where she holds a significant advantage in the polls. The latest Real Clear politics average shows Mrs. Clinton leading by nearly 30 points in South Carolina.

“I said earlier today, some people said ‘Well, Senator Sanders is ahead’ and I respect that, ‘so maybe I should go on to the next states’ and I said ‘absolutely not,’” Mrs. Clinton explained at the town hall in Derry. “New Hampshire has been so good to me and my family and I love campaigning in New Hampshire. I love this process. So you’re going to have to put up with me. I’m going to be going around the state, going to as many events as I can, answering as many questions, trying to talk about what I am offering.”

Mr. Sanders scoffed at the notion that Mrs. Clinton is the underdog in the race.

“Of course, we’re still an underdog,” Mr. Sanders said at the CNN forum. “We are taking on the most powerful political organization in the country and that’s the Clinton organization.”

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