2nd Democratic Debate: Hillary Clinton Invokes 9/11 in Defense of Her Wall Street Ties

It was the most heated debate exchange yet over Clinton's ties to Wall Street.

ByABC News
November 14, 2015, 10:52 PM
Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during the second Democratic presidential primary debate on Nov. 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during the second Democratic presidential primary debate on Nov. 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

— -- During tonight’s second Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton cast her support for Wall Street as a senator from New York as a way to rebuke terrorists who attacked Lower Manhattan on 9/11.

In the most heated exchange yet between the candidates over Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, Sanders called Clinton's promise not to be influenced by Wall Street donors “not good enough."

Clinton then defended herself against Sanders' attacks: "I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is."

"I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild," said Clinton, who represented New York from 2001 to 2009. "That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country."

Clinton said Sanders was looking to “impugn my integrity" and then criticized Sanders' policy proposal as "nowhere near enough."

"I looked very carefully at your proposal; re-instating Glass-Steagall [provisions of the Banking Act of 1933] is a part of what very well could help, but it is nowhere near enough. My proposal is tougher, more effective, and more comprehensive because I go after all of Wall Street, not just the big banks," Clinton said, to which Sanders looked surprised.

“Why over her political career has Wall Street been a major – the major – contributor to Hillary Clinton?” he asked.

Martin O’Malley also got in on the action, with economic populism hitting Clinton literally from all sides on stage.

Later in the debate, CBS's Nancy Cordes asked Clinton a question that arose from conversations on Twitter, which partnered with CBS for tonight’s debate. One viewer had tweeted, "I've never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now."

"Well, I'm sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression because I worked closely with New Yorkers after 9/11 for my entire first term to rebuild," Clinton answered. "So, yes, I did know people. I've had a lot of folks give me donations from all kinds of backgrounds say, 'I don't agree with you on everything, but I like what you do. I like how you stand up. I'm going to support you.' And I think that is absolutely appropriate."

The remark quickly drew criticism from people from both sides of the aisle.

Following the debate, Clinton’s communications director Jen Palmieri explained that Clinton’s decision to bring up 9/11 was in response to Sanders referring to her as “the Senator from Wall Street.”

"She was explaining that there’s a lot that she’s proud of in being the Senator from Wall Street and helping this industry where she could,” said Palmieri. "She was very proud to have represented the people who worked in Wall Street, very proud to have helped them after 9/11…but, she went on to say that when she’s disagreed with them, she hasn’t hesitated to say so."