Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed her rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the same breath during the Democratic debate on Thursday.
The issue was higher education, and Clinton was harshly criticizing Sanders’ proposal for free college tuition, noting that it would rely on help from governors like Walker, a former Republican presidential candidate who she said was unlikely to cooperate.
As a Senator, Sanders introduced a bill that would remove tuition costs for students at public colleges and universities through federal and state funding. Under his plan, the federal government foot two-thirds of the $70 billion bill, while states would be responsible for the rest, or $23 billion.
“Senator Sanders’ plan really rests on making sure that governors like Scott Walker contribute $23 billion on the first day to make college free,” Clinton said. “I am a little skeptical about your governor actually caring enough about higher education to make any kind of commitment like that.”
Sanders responded by saying free tuition should be a “right of all Americans regardless of the income of their families.”
In 2015, Walker signed a budget that cut $250 million from the University of Wisconsin system. He also extended a tuition freeze within the system but eliminated state-level protections for tenure. Democrats and some Republicans in the state pushed back against the governor’s cuts to public education, but Walker tweeted during the debate to say that the tuition freeze made college more affordable in Wisconsin.
The PBS debate wasn’t the first time Clinton has attacked Walker on his home turf. While campaigning in the state late last year, Clinton piled on the governor for policies he’d implemented that hurt the Democratic base.
“It seems to me, just observing him, that Governor Walker thinks because he busts unions, starves universities, guts public education, demeans women, scapegoats teachers, nurses and firefighters, he’s some kind of tough guy on his motorcycle,” Clinton said. “That is not leadership, folks.”
Clinton reupped her attacks on Walker in her closing statements, pouncing on his record within the public sector, saying he is among the U.S. governors “trying to rip out the heart of the middle class by making it impossible to organize and stand up for better wages and working conditions.”