WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton wants you to know she’s a more realistic, more savvy version of Bernie Sanders.

She, too, wants to close corporate loopholes, make college and health care more affordable and get tough on Wall Street. Just as Sanders does, except she’d proceed more carefully and practically.

Same with Social Security, and income inequality. Me, too, she said. Just better.

Clinton’s challenge, though, was clear during Thursday’s debate. Sanders argues with a passion that appeals to voters disgusted with Washington inertia. Clinton reasons with fact-laced talking points and anecdotes about how things work. Sanders leans into the podium, his right index finger pointing at the viewer as he promises a radical new way of doing business. Clinton is more lawyerly and measured.

She spent much of the debate, the first since Sanders and his insurgent army crushed her in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, intent on providing a distinctive dash of reality. She tried to convince voters fed up with politics as usual that the difference between Sanders and her is largely one of temperament and resume.

So when Sanders railed against a “rigged economy … where ordinary Americans are working longer hours for low wages,” Clinton echoed, “the economy is rigged for those at the top.”

She went a step further, appealing directly to two of the constituencies she needs most. She pledged to help “African-Americans who face discrimination in the job market, education, housing and the criminal justice system.” She promised to help women get “the equal pay we deserve.”

Her most stinging moment came when she said, “Today, Sen. Sanders said President Obama failed the presidential leadership test.” Sanders, clearly rattled, called that a “low blow,” but it registered with Democratic voters, particularly African-Americans, who regard President Barack Obama highly.

Clinton did challenge Sanders. On universal health care, he argued that $500 in taxes for middle-class families would save $5,000 in health care costs.

“The numbers don’t add up,” Clinton said. They also debated whose plan makes the most sense. Clinton was the knowing veteran: Blow up the system, and you only trigger a new debate that could drag on for years and get nowhere.

They’re in “vigorous agreement” that Social Security needs more revenue, Clinton said. They just differ on the means.

“Both of us share the goal of trying to make college affordable for all young Americans,” Clinton promised, though with a different plan.

Sanders boasted of his sterling abortion-rights record. Clinton cited her endorsement from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Clinton still faces a big hurdle in trying to get wavering Sanders loyalists into her camp: She’s inexorably tied to a system that Americans increasingly disdain.

She didn’t mention Thursday the $153 million that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, earned in speakers’ fees from 2001 through last year, an average of $210,795 per speech, a CNN analysis showed. She voted for the Iraq war in 2002, a vote Sanders wouldn’t let her forget. She later said that was a mistake, and Thursday she pointed to her four-year stint as secretary of state as evidence of her knowledge and judgment.

Clinton’s challenge is to keep these controversies in the background while continuing to show that she feels Sanders’ eagerness for change, but in a thoughtful way. That’s a tough mission, because Sanders goes from the gut. Clinton goes from position papers.

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