(Bloomberg) — One day after lighting into her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination in Iowa, Hillary Clinton conspicuously avoided mentioning Bernie Sanders during an hour-long town hall meeting Friday in a Rochester, N.H., opera house.
Although she made a tacit case against him by saying the United States can’t afford to undo gains made under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (something Clinton has warned Sanders’ plan for a “Medicare for all” system would do), Clinton avoided mentioning the name of the senator from neighboring Vermont, something she was not shy about doing in Iowa.
“Sen. Sanders and I share many of the same goals, but we have different records and different ideas about how to drive progress,” Clinton said during a tour of Iowa college campuses, where she painted Sanders as too impractical to be president.
Also conspicuously absent: The stinging tone of her critiques which accused Sanders of espousing a string of unachievable goals in foreign policy and health care.
Clinton was delivering her Friday remarks in a state where Sanders is well known as a long time lawmaker from neighboring Vermont. Polls in New Hampshire have consistently shown him leading Clinton in the state that will hold the first primary of the presidential campaign on Feb. 9.
For Sandra Rodeffer of Durham, N.H., who described herself as a “60-year-old sister” in feminism, the restraint was just fine. She doesn’t think the decision was due to geography.
“I think it would be counterproductive for her to go negative,” she said. “Women really don’t value attacks. That turns them off. Hillary was wise not to go after Bernie.”
Clinton pitched her case for growing the nation’s economy, closing the income gap and lowering drug prices. She pitched her healthcare bona fides. She said she supports PPACA and wants to expand coverage to 100 percent of Americans, though she never mentioned the term “single-payer” or the Medicare-for-all system espoused by Sanders.
“We really don’t want to go back to a contentious national debate over health care,” she told a crowd that stretched around the historic wood and brick Rochester Opera House to attend the hour-long session. “That is a recipe for gridlock.”
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