Halfway through Thursday's feisty Democratic debate, the conversation turned to ISIS. Bernie Sanders, as he often does, brought up Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq War in 2002. "Where we have a different background on this issue is we differ on the war in Iraq," he said.
But Clinton was ready with a new rebuttal — and a more effective one: "A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS." Here's the full text of her response, met with a round of applause from the Democratic audience:
Look, we did differ. A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats that we face right now and we have to be prepared to take them on and defeat them.
For once, Clinton didn't sound defensive on her 2002 vote (which she now says was a mistake). Instead, she put the issue in the past, and instead turned the debate back to one of Sanders's weaknesses: his relatively thin résumé and knowledge base on foreign policy.
Throughout his career in Congress, Sanders has focused on domestic policy issues, which makes him fairly reliant on pre-prepared arguments on foreign policy like Clinton's 2002 Iraq War vote. Clinton is pointing that out, and implicitly questioning Sanders's fitness to deal with ISIS as a result. It's certainly not a perfect answer — Democrats are still not thrilled with her vote for Bush's war — but it's much better than what she's given in the past.