Democratic candidates faced arms control and health care in their most lively televised debate to date.
Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’ record on gun control and said his health plan risked thwarting recent legislation.
Bernie Sanders accused Hillary Clinton of being in the pockets of financial institutions responsible for the 2008 crisis.
While Hillary Clinton leads across the country, Bernie Sanders is a threat in key countries.
Hours before the debate in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, presented a health plan for all American citizens.
It was the Democratic’s last debate before the Feb. 1 meeting in Iowa to show who state voters prefer as their candidate.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who lags behind in the research of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, is also taking part in a lively debate in which personal attacks have been few and far between.
Bernie Sanders announced his universal health plan two hours before the debate began.
Hillary Clinton said any move to repeal the current Affordable Care Act risks putting Democrats in a “controversial debate”. Instead, the party must work to improve a program known as ObamaCare.
Bernie Sanders replied: “No one is tearing this up.”
He said he wanted to upgrade ObamaCare.
Arms control was the first topic of a two-hour debate that took place near a church in Charleston, where nine parishioners were shot dead in June 2015.
This week, Hillary Clinton released an ad in which she attacked Bernie Sanders for his attitude towards gun control. His home state, Vermont, has one of the highest levels of gun ownership in the United States, with nearly one in two households owning a gun.
In the debate, Hillary Clinton reiterated legislation that she said Bernie Sanders supported the gun lobby.
However, Bernie Sanders told the debate that there was a “D minus vote” from the National Riflemen’s Association and fully supported President Obama’s efforts to tighten checks on gun buyers.
Martin O’Malley pointed to restrictions he has adopted against weapons in Maryland, adding: “I have never met a self-respecting deer hunter who needs an AR-15 [semi-automatic rifle] to take down a deer. “
Polls suggest Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are at the door of a parliamentary group in Iowa, where voters will decide who they want as their preferred candidate. She had once commanded a large lead.
In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders took the lead in opinion polls before the primary vote there eight days later.