Who Won, Lost Democratic Debate

Sanders aimed for the heart; Clinton, the head
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2016 3:09 AM CST
Updated Jan 18, 2016 6:47 AM CST
Bernie Sanders answers a question as Hillary Clinton gestures during the NBC/YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center Sunday in Charleston, SC.   (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
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(Newser) – The last Democratic debate before Iowa and New Hampshire vote took place Sunday night in South Carolina—and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were taking no prisoners. The pair clashed over and over again throughout the debate, while Martin O'Malley failed to make much of an impact. Here's what analysts are saying about the candidates:

  • Bernie Sanders. It's not unanimous, but a lot of people are calling Sanders the winner. He was more aggressive than usual in dealing with Clinton and "positioned himself as the anti-status-quo candidate, a very good position to have in this electoral environment," writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, praising the "passion and disruption that Sanders oozed from every pore." The senator from Vermont was at his best during the debate's first hour, where he dominated the discussion and was judged the winner by 29 out of 30 undecided voters in a Democratic focus group, Politico reports.

  • Hillary Clinton. Clinton—faced with Sanders' "louder and bolder" vision—offered "aggressive lessons on political practicality," trying to portray herself as the more pragmatic and electable candidate, writes Rick Klein at ABC News. She scored points by attacking Sanders' changing positions on guns and taxes, "but was not seen as dealing any decisive blow," writes Alan Rappeport at the New York Times. Isaac Chotiner at Slate, however, declares her the winner, praising her ability to bring Sanders "to earth and seem like just another politician." Politico's Glenn Thrush notes that she also scored points by hugging Obama "so hard he needs new ribs."
  • Martin O'Malley. The former Maryland governor "was most notable for his unsuccessful efforts to get a word in," according to Rappeport, though Cillizza notes that he managed to come across as likable. "He did well in an impossible situation," he writes.
(Read more Hillary Clinton stories.)

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