February 4, 2016 at 11:12 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Clinton, Sanders square off in N.H. debate

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, gay news, Washington Blade

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) debated each other at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., on Feb. 4, 2016. (Washington Blade photo of Clinton by Damien Salas; Blade photo of Sanders by Michael Key)

DURHAM, N.H. — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday squared off in the final Democratic presidential debate before the New Hampshire primary.

Clinton in her opening statement specifically referenced “discrimination against the LGBT community.”

“The economy has not been working for most Americans,” she said. “Yes, of course, we have special interests that are unfortunately doing too much to rig the game.”

“But there’s also the continuing challenges of racism, of sexism, of discrimination against the LGBT community, of the way that we treat people as opposed to how we want to be treated,” added Clinton.

Clinton reiterated this point at the end of the debate at the University of New Hampshire that Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Chuck Todd of NBC moderated.

Clinton during the debate referenced Turing Pharmaceuticals — former CEO Martin Shkreli hours earlier appeared before a congressional committee that is investigating drug price increases. Sanders highlighted his support of a single-payer healthcare system.

Candidates highlight opposition to TPP

Sanders said Clinton represents the “establishment.”

“It is really quite amazing to me,” said Clinton in response. “People support me because they know me, they know my life’s work, they have worked with me…they know I can get things done.”

Clinton again defined herself as a “progressive who gets things done.”

She did not specifically reference the criticisms that Sanders made her after the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood endorsed her. Clinton said his comments “really caused me to wonder who’s left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”

Clinton asserted that Sanders would not consider the late-U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) a progressive because he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. The self-described democratic socialist described President Obama as a “progressive,” even though he supports the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I believe in trade,” said Sanders, reiterating his opposition to TPP and other trade deals. “I do not believe in unfettered free trade.”

Clinton also highlighted her opposition to TPP, even though she once supported it.

“Once i saw what the outcome was, i opposed it,” she said. “We have to trade with the rest of the world… and trade has to be reciprocal. We have failed to provide the basic safety net support that Americans need to compete and win in the global economy.”

The debate took place five days before the New Hampshire primary.

A poll the University of New Hampshire Survey Center released on Thursday shows Sanders ahead of Clinton by a 61-30 percent margin in New Hampshire. The Vermont senator led the former secretary of state by a 58-33 percent margin just before the Iowa Democrat Caucus.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center in a separate poll it released on Thursday shows Republican frontrunner Donald Trump ahead of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in New Hampshire by a 29-18 percent margin. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa Republican Caucus, came in third with 12 percent.

The Republican presidential candidates will square off against each other on Saturday in a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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