"I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what's happening in Flint, Michigan and I think every single American should be outraged," said Clinton, who explained that, "We've had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways and majority African-American has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water."
Ripping into Snyder, she said, "He had a request for help and he had basically stonewalled. I'll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would've been action. So I sent my top campaign aide down there to talk to the mayor of Flint to see what I could do to help. I issued a statement about what we needed to do and then I went on a TV show and I said it was outrageous that the governor hadn't acted and within two hours he had [by seeking federal intervention]."
To loud applause, Clinton said, "I want to be a president who takes care of the big problems and the problems that are affecting the people of our country every day."
Senator Sanders picked up on the theme, beginning his closing remarks by saying, "Secretary Clinton was right and what I did, which I think is also right, is demand the resignation of [the] governor. A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power."
Sanders made the call for Snyder's resignation the day before the debate, with a campaign statement tracing the roots of the crisis to "a decision nearly two years ago by a receiver, appointed by the governor, who decided to cut costs by drawing the city's drinking water from the polluted Flint River instead of from Lake Huron."
Noting that the governor and other state officials knew that the river water was corroding pipes and causing lead to leach into the drinking water, and that state officials had failed to take steps to prevent corrosion of water pipes and failed to warn the public, Sanders said, "Because of the conduct by Gov. Snyder's administration and his refusal to take responsibility, families will suffer from lead poisoning for the rest of their lives. Children in Flint will be plagued with brain damage and other health problems. The people of Flint deserve more than an apology."
That is right. The first duty to Flint is immediate and thorough action to address the crisis. The second duty is a long-term commitment to care for all who have been harmed. The third duty is an allocation of federal and state resources to repair the damaged infrastructure of the city's water system.
But, make no mistake, there is a duty to hold Governor Snyder to account for choosing austerity over humanity.
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