Clinton, Sanders, crowd bring the heat in historic Brooklyn Navy Yard debate
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and a boisterous crowd of Brooklynites brought the heat — and noise — to a raucous Democratic debate Thursday night in true Brooklyn fashion.
After weeks of hype surrounding the debate at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, it’s safe to say the affair did not disappoint.
Former Secretary of State Clinton and Sen. Sanders exchanged heated remarks back and forth for a full two hours as an additional 1,100 voices added their jeers and cheers in a stadium-style atmosphere.
The rhetoric used and topics discussed, which ranged from raising the minimum wage to foreign policy, did not differ greatly from the previous eight debates, but one thing was for sure, it was louder.
At one point, as Clinton and Sanders spoke over each other, CNN anchor and moderator of the debate Wolf Blitzer said, “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.”
Both Democratic presidential aspirants stressed their New York roots in hopes of appealing as the hometown candidate ahead of the New York primary on Tuesday.
Sanders spoke about being born in Flatbush and Clinton referenced her eight years as a New York senator.
The Brooklyn Eagle attended the debate and caught up with several Brooklyn dignitaries following the battle to discuss how being in the borough added extra energy to the latest debate.
And while the following speakers differed on whom they thought won the debate, it was unanimous that being in Kings County added liveliness to the event.
Crown Heights native and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who represents New York’s Eighth Congressional District, which encompasses 11 Brooklyn neighborhoods, gave his opinion to the Eagle.
“Anytime you’re in Brooklyn, there’s going to be more flavor than in any other part of the country,” Jeffries said. “So there was definitely a lot of energy in the room and Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton did battle.”
Rafael Espinal, councilmember for the 37th District of the New York City Council, which encompasses Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills and East New York, also weighed in.
“Brooklyn is the center of the universe right now,” Espinal told the Eagle. “It’s one of the hottest neighborhoods in the country and it’s the best place to be in New York City, so Brooklyn does have that flair.
“And if you saw the way [the candidates] were behaving today, the gloves came off and it felt like a good old-fashioned Brooklyn fight up on stage, and it was really exciting,” Espinal continued.
Brooklyn Native, racial justice and civil rights activist, media commentator and Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York Linda Sarsour spoke about the role the borough played in the debate.
“Look, Brooklyn, we got swag and we got flair and I think that this tension is real in a place like Brooklyn,” Sarsour told the Eagle. “We have to be able to make a distinction between the candidates so I didn’t see this as tense.
“I saw it as two people, each one giving their side of every issue that was brought up, and I thought it was a great debate. Generally speaking, it was respectful and each one stood their ground, and may the best man or woman win,” Sarsour concluded.
Throughout the night, the debate hall seemed balanced in terms of support, which was no doubt helped by the fact that CNN strived to issue out an equal number of tickets to each campaign.
Sanders supporters were vocal, often booing Clinton’s remarks and at one point chanting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.”
Clinton also earned her fair share of cheers, which at one point she recognized with a wide smile.
“I love being in Brooklyn — this is great,” Clinton said.
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