The second Democratic primary debate is underway in Des Moines, Iowa, this time with just three participants taking the main stage—a stark contrast to the fourth Republican debate, which packed a full stage of eight candidates just days ago. Former Governor of Maryland Martin O'Malley, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont are expected to address terrorism and national security following yesterday's Islamic State attacks in Paris that claimed more than 120 lives.
The last debate saw candidates going head-to-head on gun control, with Hillary castigating Sanders' previous support of the NRA. In light of recent events, Republicans have sounded off with their (at times questionable) support for open-carry freedoms, and it'll no doubt prove a major talking point for all three presidential hopefuls. According to host CBS News, "41 percent of the conversation related to the Democratic debate is focused on foreign policy and 33 percent is connected to national security as a result of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday." Indeed, each of the candidates' opening statements addressed the terrorist attacks.
When asked whether she agreed that Obama had underestimated ISIS, Clinton at first failed to directly answer the question. But her point when asked again was succinct:
O'Malley kept his answer relatively short, saying, "America is best when we are standing up to evil in the world."
Sanders, when asked if he still believed that climate change was the greatest threat to humanity, stood his position. However he added that the invasion of Iraq has "unraveled" the region, giving birth to extremist regimes—a direct hit at Hillary Clinton.
"I don't think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability that we're seeing right now. I think that was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of the United States," he said.
To which O'Malley responded:
When asked directly asked whether we were at war with ISIS, Hillary replied "yes," though was careful not to respond too reactively.
Meanwhile, Sanders called for a reform of military spending:
Middle class took the focus next, with Hillary Clinton claiming her model for improvement would provide healthcare by "taxing the wealthy more," which she claimed she could do while avoiding any tax increase on middle class taxpayers.
O'Malley backed that up as well, adding that his track record spoke for itself.
Sanders got one of the first eruptions of applause for the night in describing his reform with a rare quip, "I'm not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower." He also reiterated that he thinks college tuition should be free, and added that he thinks Obamacare was the first step but that "I want to go further."
Halfway through the debate, TIME reported Hillary Clinton was still leading the polls ahead of Sanders.
In addressing immigration reform O'Malley went after Trump's hyperbolic political campaign, receiving applause after calling him an "immigrant-bashing carnival barker." Last year net immigration from Mexico was zero, he said. "Fact-check me."
Meanwhile Bernie tackles the minimum wage debate, calling for a $15/hour wage, and will "apologize to nobody" for his position.
O'Malley piggybacked on that, adding that under his leadership he was able to get his state's minimum wage up to $12 (and clarifying that's as high as policy makers would allow it to go when questioned about why it didn't fully reach $15). Clinton however would like to cap the minimum wage at $12.
Hillary also took her most leftist position on immigration to date, rounding out a Democratic debate that's overwhelmingly progressive on immigration.
Sanders called out Clinton on her support by Wall Street donors, despite calling herself "pro-reform." When she defended herself, he called her answer "not good enough." He added, "If Teddy Roosevelt, a good Republican, were alive, you know what he'd say? Break them up."
Hillary Clinton fired back claiming that he was attempting to "impugn her integrity," adding that she's got donors of all sizes and receiving applause when she added:
O'Malley backed up Sanders in his response to reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, despite Clinton firing back that she knew he accepted financial backing from investment bankers.
Gun reform, among the night's most anticipated hot topics, saw some heated responses:
Hillary circled back about reinstating Glass–Steagall, citing advisors and saying, "I just don't think it would get the job done."
Asked about his varying position on Clinton's emails, Sanders again clarified that he's over it. He's sick of talking about the "damn emails," he says (evoking the same response he had in the first debate). For her part, Hillary agreed. "I couldn’t have said it better myself."
Race relations took center stage next. O'Malley was the first to address the topic, claiming he'd do his part to reduce violence in "urban" areas and adding that indeed, "Black lives matter."
Sanders cited the war on drugs as a major catalyst for ongoing police violence, focusing on his platform in decriminalizing weed on a federal level as among the first steps to helping rebuild communities.
Hillary Clinton cited her recent meeting with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other victims of gun violence in Chicago as evidence that she has a vested interest in black communities nationwide.
Next, when asked whether his plan to offer higher education free of charge would be a waste given the high percentage of students who drop out, Sanders disagreed. He added that any higher education would benefit our society as a whole.
O'Malley agrees, though not on the point of offering all higher education for free, but rather lowering interest rates. "We can have debt-free college in the United States," he said.
Hillary agreed that community college should be offered free of charge, though said that she doesn't think that "we should be paying for Donald Trump's kids" to attend universities.
Next, healthcare—a big one in previous Republican and Democratic debates. While Sanders maintained his position on Medicare for all, Clinton fired back while supporting the Affordable Care Act:
Meanwhile, Donald Trump apparently heard the Internet was still enjoying O'Malley's "clown" reference and added one of his own.
Hillary finished strong with eruptions from the crowd after her finishing statements, and CBS noted that she led the overall discussion happening on Twitter (for better or worse). O'Malley didn't necessarily finish strong, and CBS noted he only made up small fraction of the larger conversation happening on Twitter. It appears Sanders and Hillary are neck-and-neck yet again—they each made up about 40 percent of the overall discussion throughout, "seesawing" for the lead.