While it generally lacked the fiery exchanges of the most recent Republican debates, moments from Saturday night’s Democratic debate did spark arguments over foreign policy, immigration and the role of Wall Street on campaigns.
The debate began with a moment of silence for victims of the terror attacks in Paris Friday, and for the next 40 minutes, Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley argued over how to fight terror and who it is that we would be fighting. Health Care, pay equity and Wall Street reform would round out the evening.
Here are some highlights of the debate
1. Did they underestimate ISIS: Clinton was asked if the Obama administration, of which she was a part, underestimated the threat from the Islamic Nation. "I think that what happened when we abided by the agreement that George W. Bush made with the Iraqis to leave by 2011 is that an Iraqi army was left that had been trained and was prepared to defend Iraq. Unfortunately Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, set about decimating it.” she said, adding, "I don't think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility (to defend the region). I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself.”
2. Does O’Malley have the chops: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was asked if he has the experience to handle the things he would face if he were to be elected president. He turned the question around a bit to indict the current administration – of which Clinton was secretary of State. "Libya is now a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess. As Americans we have shown ourselves to have the greatest military on the face of the planet but we are not so very good at anticipating threats," he said.
3. Health care on his mind: Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, spoke several times during the evening about health care and the Affordable Care Act. Calling the landmark legislation a “step forward,” Sanders said there is room to improve the law. "I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth that doesn't' guarantee healthcare to all people as a right and not a privilege."
4. Carnival barking: What does O'Malley think of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's ideas on immigration? He's not impressed. On what got one of the biggest laughs of the night, O'Malley called Trump an "immigrant-bashing carnival barker," adding, "Our symbol is the Statue of Liberty it is not a barbed-wired fence."
5. Just right of Ike: Another lighter moment in the debate came when Sanders pointed out that the wealthy are not taxed nearly enough, and while he would raises taxes, the rate wouldn’t be anywhere near what was levied under President Dwight Eisenhower. “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower," he joked.
6. Weak tea: In one contentious moment, O'Malley joins Sanders in attacking Clinton's idea for reforming Wall Street, both claiming she has too many supporters in high finance. O’Malley says her plan for Wall Street reform does not go far enough. "It was greeted by many as 'weak tea,'" he said. "It is weak tea. It is not what the people expect of our country. We expect that our country will protect the main street economy from excesses on Wall Street. And that's why Bernie's right - we need to reinstate Glass-Steagall." (a law that separated commercial and investment banking; it was repealed in 1999). Clinton fired back saying she has a plan ready to hold Wall Street accountable. Sanders says it’s “Not good enough.”
7. On the email: Sanders commented on his remark from the first debate about being sick of hearing about Clinton's “damn emails." "I was sick and tired of Hillary Clinton's email, I am still sick and tired of Hillary Clinton's email," he said. He then joked about how the email story had disappeared after he suggested everyone move on to other issues. "We've gotten off of Hillary's emails, good. Let's go to the major issues facing America," he said. "I agree completely," Clinton said in response. "I couldn't have said it better myself."