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The gloves are now off, with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a sharp public argument. The subject: Who (or what) is a progressive?

A key question, it seems, is whether “progressive” is an adjective to describe a person’s ideals or a proper noun — “Progressive” — to describe an exclusive group of people, ideas, and actions.

Sanders, however, appears to be on the verge of writing out vast swaths of Democratic politicians (and voters) from having a claim to a real progressive identity.

“Hillary Clinton has called herself ‘a progressive with a plan,'” a reporter asked Sanders Tuesday night. “Do you think Hillary Clinton is a progressive?”

“Some days, yes,” Bernie responded, damning with faint praise. “Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate — and then I guess she is not a progressive.”

“I think, frankly, it is very hard to be a real progressive, and to take on the Establishment in a way that I think it has to be taken, when you become as dependent as she has through her super PAC and in other ways — on Wall Street or drug company money.” Hillary publicly responded on Wednesday, saying at an event in New Hampshire: “It was kind of a low blow when Sen. Sanders said in response to a question, ‘Well, you know, maybe she’s a progressive on some days.’ I thought to myself: I think it was a good day for progressives when I helped to get eight million kids health insurance under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

She spoke of her progressive work on many other “good days,” such as protecting Social Security and advancing gay rights, women’s rights — as well as “stood with friends like the Brady Campaign, and Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, to take on the gun lobby relentlessly, persistently.” The latter was most certainly a pointed reference to Sanders’ positions on gun control.

“So I hope we keep it on the issues. Because if it’s about our records — hey, I’m gonna win by a landslide on Tuesday.”

The Sanders campaign soon hit back on Twitter, further digging on Bernie’s statements that Clinton was either a “moderate” or a “progressive.”

 

 

The Clinton campaign, too, retaliated in kind by contrasting her own record with that of Sanders — and making the point that you can’t truly be a “progressive” without making actual “progress.”

 

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