The 2016 Republican primary race has been so dramatic that we haven't had much time to argue over whether or not Hillary Clinton is being treated unfairly because she's a woman. That likely ended tonight with one line uttered by Bernie Sanders at the CNN debate in Flint, Michigan. After Clinton criticized Sanders for failing to vote for the auto-industry bailout, he replied, "If you are talking about the Wall Street bailout, where some of your friends destroyed this economy ... " Clinton started to interject, and Sanders stopped her, saying, "Excuse me, I'm talking."
It was clearly one of the sharpest moments in the Democratic race so far, but Twitter users are divided on whether it was a condescending, sexist, campaign-damaging line, in the vein of candidate Obama's "you're likable enough, Hillary":
Clinton getting a good dry run tonight for a fall debate against a dismissive, mocking male candidate hitting her on trade and Wall Street.— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) March 7, 2016
This is nearly Rick Lazio level of bad for Bernie Sanders. He needs a deep breath.— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) March 7, 2016
Yeah... that was Bernie Sanders talking down to Hillary Clinton. That's terrible optics. Very sexist seeming. #DemDebate— Allen Clifton (@Allen_Clifton) March 7, 2016
Or an appropriate, even cheer-worthy response from Sanders to a fellow candidate trying to interrupt him:
Clinton has to stop being rude and interrupting. If Sanders interrupted her, y'all would be calling him sexist. #DemDebate— Bougie Black Girl (@BougieBlackGurl) March 7, 2016
'The moment looked bad for Sanders. He came off as a man shouting down a woman.' Well this is sexist. They are debating! .@voxdotcom— Alberto (@arc1974) March 7, 2016
sanders is not being sexist when he asks Clinton to let him finish. He is saying he won't be interrupted. #DemDebate— Jessica Winegar (@WinegarJessica) March 7, 2016
Pussyfooting around Clinton during a DEBATE because she's a woman would have been a hell of a lot more sexist of Sanders. #ExcuseMeGate— Doof Worrier (@SMLXist) March 7, 2016
Clinton interrupted sanders. That's the fact of it. He was a little snide with her, but not sexist IMO. This is still 100x better than GOP— Ben Berry (@Ben_M_Berry) March 7, 2016
At least one pro-Clinton group is already pushing the former narrative. In a statement released at the end of the debate, Correct the Record president Brad Woodhouse said:
But perhaps nothing from this debate will be more memorable than Bernie Sanders rudely flying off the handle — losing his temper and shushing Secretary Clinton, wagging his finger and repeatedly yelling the likes of "excuse me, I'm talking" and "let me finish." It was a cringe worthy moment from Senator Sanders more fitting of the GOP debate stage than the Democratic one.
Wherever you stand, by tomorrow you should be able to find several angry opinion pieces backing up your position. But as usual, it's hard to describe any exchange between Clinton and Sanders as truly nasty or derogatory when the Republicans candidates are openly calling each other liars and debating their penis size.
This post has been updated to include statements from Twitter and Correct the Record.