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Hillary Clinton Sharpens Her Barbs Against Bernie Sanders

5 minute read

Hillary Clinton sharpened her attacks against Bernie Sanders Friday as her campaign gains confidence, criticizing his gun control record and subtly accusing him of making a sexist remark in the recent debate.

During a sunny campaign event in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday, Clinton apparently referred to a moment in the Democratic debate when Sanders said that “all the shouting in the world” will not improve gun laws.

“I’ve been told to stop shouting about guns,” Clinton said to cheers. “Actually I haven’t been shouting, but sometimes when a woman talks, some people think it’s shouting!”

She used the same line earlier in the day at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum. Friday was the first time Clinton has implied Sanders showed sexism in the Democratic debate by remonstrating Clinton for raising her voice. (Sanders also said in the debate in response to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley that “we can raise our voices.”)

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remark.

At the Virginia event, Clinton went on to describe “outrageous” legislation that Sanders voted for in Congress, referring to a 2005 bill that gave gun manufacturers immunity from lawsuits. As a Senator from New York, Clinton voted against the bill.

“It’s basically an NRA gift to the gun manufacturers and gun sellers,” Clinton told the crowd, who had showed up on a war October day to see the presidential candidate alongside her Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “It’s wrong, and we have to fight against it, and we have to repeal it.”

Gun control is one of the few issues where Clinton is further to the left than Sanders, and it is an issue she believes will help her win over the Democratic base. One of her strongest moments during the debate last week came when host Anderson Cooper asked Clinton whether Sanders is strong enough of on gun control. “No,” Clinton said in the debate, “not at all.”

Sanders voted in favor of the 2005 bill giving gun manufacturers legal immunity. He also opposed the 1993 Brady Bill, which mandated background checks on firearms purchases.

Read More: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Democratic Debate

Clinton’s criticism of Sanders comes with some political risk: the Vermont senator is extremely popular with the Democratic base and has high favorability ratings. Voters who trust Sanders’ authenticity and believe in his insurgent vision could perceive Clinton’s attacks as establishment bullying.

Clinton has thus far been careful not to alienate Sanders’ supporters, targeting him on what is likely a winning issue for her. But members of the crowd after the Alexandria rally didn’t appear to mind her attacks.

“She should stay strong against Bernie Sanders,” said Kimberly Smith, a retired senior director at a high-tech company. “But that doesn’t mean that she should take him out at the knees.”

Though Clinton has still not mentioned Sanders by name at her rallies, the former Secretary of State has not hesitated to contrast her self with her insurgent opponent following Clinton’s success in last week’s debate and her subsequent rise in the polls. The hour after the end of the Benghazi hearing was the best fundraising hour of her campaign, a Clinton aide said. “I am a progressive who likes to get things done,” she told her crowd in Virginia on Friday, repeating a line she used in the debate.

“Sanders has a record of voting for gun shop owners. That is unacceptable,” said an attendee, Gita Kangarloo who said Clinton should be critical of Sanders. “I cannot accept anyone that votes for any step in favor of guns.”

Read More: Democrats Push for Gun Control Ahead of 2016

Sanders has built a huge and growing following of the Democratic vote who are galvanized by the Vermont senator’s fire-and-brimstone speeches on inequality and political corruption, and his liberal vision for the United States.

Later in her remarks, Clinton seemed to obliquely criticize Sanders’ often grim vision of the United States. “Other candidates will be other here hurling insults at anyone, talking about what’s wrong with America, wanting to divide us,” Clinton said. “I still believe there is nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed by building on what’s right with America.”

On Friday, she also compared herself with Sanders on an area he has had a distinctive advantage: small-dollar fundraising. Sanders has so far had much more success accruing small-dollar donations than Clinton, attracting tens of millions of dollars from donors giving an average of $30.

“A lot of people don’t realize my campaign is being built by small dollars,” Clinton said. “I am grateful for the hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists who are joining this campaign. The veterans and workers, the students, the teachers the partens the grandparents across our country.”

Her argument that she is running a grassroots fundraising campaign may be difficult claim for her to make: through the third fundraising quarter, Clinton raised only about 20% of her total funds from amounts under $200. Sanders, meanwhile, has raised 88% of his cash from amounts under $200.

And while Clinton revealed Friday that she has 500,000 individual contributors to her campaign, a Sanders aide told TIME that he has 750,000.

But Clinton has risen in the polls since the Democratic debate on Tuesday and has looked increasingly confident on the trail, particularly since her performance in the Benghazi hearing on Thursday. She holds a commanding lead over Sanders in the polls.

“I can’t tell you how great it feels to be here on this beautiful day out in the sunshine!” Clinton said on Friday.

Read Next: The Gospel of Bernie

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