Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters at a debate...

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters at a debate watch party on Nov. 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

Here was presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, engaged in a Democratic debate barely a day after horrific massacres in Paris. On terrorism, she tried to hone an edge from her experience as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, knowing her rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley would fault her for U.S. foreign policy failures.

Later the subject turned to her campaign's hefty collections from Wall Street.

"I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is," said the then-senator. "I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country."

Clinton & Co. clearly thought they'd found a way to spin cordiality with downtown financiers as something positive for the public -- and thus counter suspicions she'd be susceptible as president to what detractors see as excessive Wall Street clout. Unsurprisingly, she did this at a moment of fresh shock and anger over the latest jihadi attacks on civilians.

When Sanders said big contributors "expect to get something" for their money, Clinton might have at least sounded more candid if she'd risked a response like: "Of course big money goes to the party's front-runner, which is what I am."

Or perhaps: "Who are they going to prefer, a socialist from Vermont?"

Having chosen this 9/11 riff instead, she prodded instant backlash, including on Twitter. CBS moderator Nancy Cordes cited one negative tweet, prompting Clinton to say, "I'm sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression." Then she cited anew the post-9/11 rebuilding theme and said admirers contribute even if they don't always agree with her.

Mainstream New York politicians do tend to represent the interests of the financial sector in Washington as reliably as those from Texas boost the oil industry.

Post-debate fact-checking always turns up inaccuracies. For Saturday's debate, the widely cited website factcheck.org has disputed: O'Malley's statement about the marginal tax rate during President Ronald Reagan's first term; Sanders' remarks on where the United States ranks in income inequality; and Clinton's description of the stagnancy of real wages. But no factual flubs made waves like her Wall Street-funding defense.