(Bloomberg) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday tweaked opponent Bernie Sanders for not yet releasing his tax proposals, adding yet another issue to her list of policy complaints about the Vermont senator who is rapidly gaining on her in many polls.
"I have laid out, specifically, my tax plans, and my friend, Senator Sanders, has said that he will lay out his before the Iowa caucus, and I and others will be anxious to see them," she said at the Iowa Black & Brown Forum in Des Moines, where she followed Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who each appeared separately on stage.
Earlier in the day, Clinton called for a 4 percent "surcharge" on incomes of more than $5 million and will propose additional tax measures later this week. She's already proposed ideas aimed at cracking down on inversions and other mechanisms that U.S. corporations use to cut their tax bills.
After the forum, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters that his candidate's proposals for taxes on individuals will be released before the Feb. 1 caucuses and will "fund much of the rest of his agenda."
For months, Sanders and Clinton contrasted their positions but avoided more direct combat. That's changed since the start of the year, and Sanders charged Monday that Clinton is tweaking him more because she feels pressure as her lead shrinks in many polls.
Faced with questions from a four-person panel at the forum, Sanders was asked if Clinton was getting more aggressive toward him. "Yes," he said, extending the vowel for comic effect. "It could be that the inevitable candidate for the Democratic nomination may not be so inevitable today."
With three weeks until the Iowa caucuses, polling of the Democratic field has tightened. Among likely Democratic caucus- goers, Clinton led 48 percent to 45 percent over Sanders in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist survey released Sunday. That 3-point margin is much smaller than the leads she's had in most polls in the state even as Sanders has made gains. O'Malley got the support of 5 percent of Iowa Democrats in that poll.
The forum, which was started in 1984, is billed as one of the oldest non-partisan forums for presidential candidates in the nation, though Republicans didn't participate this year. Iowa's population is 87.8 percent non-Hispanic white, according to U.S. Census data.
Clinton has honed in on Sanders's mixed record on gun laws, especially his vote in favor of a 2005 bill granting legal immunity to gun sellers and manufacturers.
Asked twice if he made a mistake on that vote, Sanders said "no," arguing that he wouldn't want a small Vermont gun shop to face a lawsuit if a gun it sold legally was used in a crime. "Like many pieces of legislation, it is complicated," he said.
The discussion at the forum didn't just focus on the horserace as the candidates weighed in on a range of issues affecting various minority groups.
Clinton said that she would not become the next "deporter- in-chief," as President Barack Obama is often described by immigrant communities, and called on the Department of Homeland Security to stop raids on Central American families seeking asylum. Raids are "sowing discord and fear," she said.
She declined to promise not to deport children. "I cannot sit here and tell you that I have a blanket rule about who or who will not be allowed into the country to stay," she said. Speaking just before her, O'Malley, who's been outspoken on the issue, made that pledge.
Sanders said that Puerto Rico's debt crisis must be handled in a way that doesn't favor bondholders over the people of the island. Sanders said he would "stand up to the Wall Street thugs who want to see schools closed down and health care diminished in Puerto Rico and develop and negotiated a repayment schedule that is fair and not simply what Wall Street wants."
Clinton said last week that her New Year's resolution was to ignore Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, but she couldn't resist the opportunity to get in a few shots at him.
"He was basically a Democrat before he was a Republican," she said, and was someone she knew while serving as senator from New York. "He was supportive of a lot of the causes I cared about."
Moments later, asked if Sanders could become president, she responded that "anybody can win."
"Who would have thought that Donald Trump would be leading in national polls?" she said. "I mean for those of you who have ever thought about running for president, take heart."
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