Democratic Debate: Bernie Sanders Scores Big In New Hampshire, But Hillary Clinton Shows Aggression

The Democratic debate has been getting livelier with each round, and the one held last night in Durham, New Hampshire, was by far the fiercest one yet.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton squared off at the MSNBC-hosted debate for the first time without former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who pulled out of the Democratic race after his weak showing in the Iowa caucuses. As could be expected, with just Sanders and Clinton going head-to-head, the Democratic debate was never going to be a tepid affair.

Hillary Clinton, coming from her narrow win in the Iowa caucuses, appeared in an aggressive mood as she stayed on the offense for most of the night; but as Politico mentioned in its exclusive report, Bernie Sanders seemed to be the one to have edged out Clinton when it came to his attacks on Wall Street — and by extension — Clinton herself.

So here are some highlights from New Hampshire’s Democratic debate.

Clinton takes a jab at Sanders, saying his campaign has indulged in an artful smear

Well, we have always known Clinton has a penchant for words, but perhaps the moment of the debate last night was when she accused Bernie Sanders and his campaign of indulging in politics of name-calling and smearing the opponent. Rather elegantly terming Sanders’ repeated attacks about her $675,000 speaking fees from Goldman Sachs an attempt at “artful smearing,” Clinton said it was time for the Democratic debate to move beyond such issues.

But make no mistake, as articulate as Hillary Clinton might have been, this was perhaps her fiercest denunciation of Sanders’ campaign thus far.

“Senator Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I’ve tried to keep my disagreements over issues, as it should be. But time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to – you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.

And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. And I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.

So I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out.”

And although Clinton appeared to have put her message across, it did not appear like Bernie Sanders was going to take his foot off the gas. After all, his argument about Clinton being “part of the establishment” is what has drawn many young voters towards him, and he is simply not ready to relent yet.

“One of the things we should do is not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have a Super PAC, who’s not raising huge sums of money from Wall Street. And special interests.”

Clinton says she can’t be part of the establishment because she is a woman

While Bernie Sanders continued his attacks on Hillary Clinton for being part of the political establishment, an argument Clinton has not been extremely vocal to counter in the past, last night’s Democratic debate appeared to be the threshold moment when Clinton’s campaign decided to take things up a notch.

Not only was Clinton vociferous during the course of the entire debate, she had a new line of argument. Hillary said she is part of the race to become the first female president of the United States, and that certainly does not make her part of the establishment.

Well, it is a statement which should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Sanders’ Wall Street slams strike a chord

According to an exclusive report by Politico, a panel of top operatives and activists in the early nominating states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, said the Vermont senator got the better of Clinton when the debate turned in the first hour to his critiques of Wall Street and large financial institutions.

Part of the reason that Bernie Sanders’ struck a chord with delegates in the state was because of Clinton’s inability to sufficiently answer the questions thrown at her by moderators of the Democratic debate.

“Wall Street is Clinton’s weakest point as a candidate,” said one New Hampshire Democrat. “How can she not have good answers after all these years?”

“These speaking fees are quickly supplanting the email controversy as her Achilles heel,” said a Nevada Democrat to the magazine. “All her responses fail to adequately address the issue.”

The poll carried out by the magazine showed that 52 percent of delegates from the early states thought that Bernie Sanders won the Wall Street exchange at last night’s Democratic debate, while 48 percent of delegates believed Clinton answered sufficiently well.

Experience takes on judgment

Another bone of contention between the two Democratic candidates has been their respective stances on foreign policy, an issue which appears to give Clinton an edge over Sanders because of her experience. It is believed that a lot of Democrats think Clinton can get the work done, and although most of them believe Bernie Sanders to have genuine concerns for the country, they simply do not think Sanders will be able to do it all on his own if elected to the White House.

So it was no surprise when Hillary Clinton re-emphasized her experience. But Sanders countered, arguing that her decision to vote in favor of sending ground troops to Iraq under George W. Bush shows her lack of judgment when it comes to foreign policies.

To which Hillary Clinton hit back, saying Bernie Sanders is no “gatekeeper of progressiveness,” and that in fact his decision to repeatedly vote against the Brady Bill shows his non-committed attitude to bringing the issue of guns under control.

Bernie Sanders shines on social media once again

Like last time, Bernie Sanders once again appeared to have won the Democratic debate, at least if social media is to be believed.

Twitter overwhelmingly thought that Sanders won Thursday night’s Democratic debate, while Google Trends — a tool that tracks the most-searched keywords on Google — said that “Bernie Sanders” was the most searched keyword on the search engine for the entirety of the debate.

It remains to be seen who will come out on top in the Democratic race for nomination, but if last night’s debate is anything to go by, we are nowhere near a definite answer. Not yet, anyway.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]