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Kildee: Stark contrast between Dem debate in Flint and "juvenile" GOP

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, left, and Bernie Sanders, right.

The race to the White House has finally come to Michigan. With the Republican debate in Detroit last week, Democrats arrived in Flint on Sunday with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders holding a debate at the Whiting auditorium.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee  joined Stateside to share his thoughts on the debate between the two Democratic front-runners.

“The biggest takeaway was the incredibly stark contrast between this very civil, thoughtful debate between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders and the incredibly confusing, and really juvenile debate that took place between the Republican candidates just a few days ago in Detroit,” said Rep. Kildee. “Add to that, the fact that there was a very thoughtful conversation about this crisis in Flint at the Flint debate with our Democratic candidates, and there was 30 seconds spent defending Rick Snyder by one of the Republican candidates and not another word spoken about this terrible tragedy that’s taken place in Flint.”

The biggest takeaway was the incredibly stark contrast between this very civil, thoughtful debate ... and the incredibly confusing, and really, juvenile debate that took place between the Republican candidates just a few days ago in Detroit.

The Democratic congressman was not shy in his support of Secretary Clinton, but acknowledges that Sen. Sanders has played a big role in the political debate that’s taking place across the country.

“I have a lot of respect for Senator Sanders, and I think he brings an important voice to the national conversation,” said Rep. Kildee. “In particular, his concern about campaign finance reform, the need to get … big money out of politics, I think is tapping particularly a lot of young people who feel turned off by the political system. So his role has been a contributory role to the national conversation. I do differ with him on some policy issues. I think he tends to be more ideological.”

With Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder receiving strong criticism, including many calling for him to resign, over the Flint water crisis, many have also criticized the Democrats for politicizing the situation. Rep. Kildee pointed out that the crisis was born out of politics and decisions made by elected officials, it’s difficult to avoid bringing politics into it.  

“There were political decisions made by the governor to use his authority to take over the city of Flint and suspend Flint’s own political power,” said Rep. Kildee. “It was a political process that created this problem in the first place, a kind of politics I disagree with. And it’s going to take the artful use of the politics of the people of Flint, the political authority that they grant their policymakers in order to get us out of this crisis.

“I think often, when someone disagrees with what’s being said, they call it politics,” he added. “When in truth, those of us that are working on this, we’re just doing the jobs that people elected us to do. I think often, the political claim that comes from somebody who doesn’t have a good argument against what’s being said.”

Listen to the full interview below to hear Rep. Kildee’s comments about the debate and if the Flint water crisis will remain in the national conversation even after the Michigan primary is over.

Also, listen to our interview below with State Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint to get his thoughts on the Democratic debate.  

Listen to our interview with State Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint.

Josh Hakala, a lifelong Michigander (East Lansing & Edwardsburg), comes to Michigan Radio after nearly two decades of working in a variety of fields within broadcasting and digital media.
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