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Days left before Iowa, intensity reigns on the trail

Every day is now an intense fight for votes in the lead up to the nation's first election contest in Iowa. While Democrats engaged on questions of readiness and judgment at a forum in Des Moines, some Republicans tried playing up the idea of a less divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail. Political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now to the race for president.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins takes us through the busy campaign trail just in the past day.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    In campaign land, the biggest heavyweight is now the calendar. We're at Tuesday, so candidates and voters have just six short days left until next Monday, the Iowa caucuses. And, as time wanes, intensity waxes.

  • CHRIS CUOMO, CNN:

    All right, we are live at Drake University.

  • SUBSCRIBE:

    Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Last night, it was Des Moines, Iowa, where Democrats engaged at a forum hosted by CNN.

  • CHRIS CUOMO:

    Is Secretary Clinton simply better prepared for the job than you, sir?

    Don't leave. We have another 15 minute.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Bernie Sanders, the former underdog, now co-front-runner, was first on stage.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: This calls for a standing-up response.

  • CHRIS CUOMO:

    OK.

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    That's all.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    The Vermont senator argued that his judgment outweighs Hillary Clinton's experience.

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    Yes, it's easy to get rid of a dictator like Saddam Hussein, but there's going to be a political vacuum. There will be instability.

    And it gives me no pleasure to tell that much of what I feared, in fact, happened. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq.

  • HILLARY CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    I have a much longer history than one vote, which I have said was a mistake.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Clinton responded with a double-punch, quoting President Obama on depth and readiness.

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    He said, you know, you don't get to pick the issues you work on when you're president. A lot of them come at you. They come in the door whether you open it or not.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    The familiar battle lines felt sharper. Sanders, pressed about his plan to raise taxes on Wall Street, wore it as a badge of honor.

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    Fine, if that's the criticism, I accept it. I demand that Wall Street start paying its fair share of taxes.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    From Martin O'Malley…

    FORMER GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I'm excited.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    … came both an admission of and an argument about being the underdog.

  • FORMER GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY:

    In the history of the state of Iowa, Iowa has found a way to sort through the noise and to sort through the national polls and to lift up a new leader for our country at times when that was critical and essential.

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    Hi.

  • WOMAN:

    Hi, Secretary Clinton.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    And Clinton showed a kind of quiet intensity when an Air Force veteran and Muslim American expressed concern that her children could face discrimination. The candidate blasted Republican Donald Trump as demeaning and dangerous.

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    He started with Mexicans. He's currently on Muslims. But I found it particularly harmful the way he has talked about Muslims, American Muslims and Muslims around the world.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    As for Trump:

  • DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate:

    I am angry. I'm angry about ISIS. We can't beat em.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    He was in New Hampshire last night. But, today, some of his Republican rivals were playing up the idea of less divisive rhetoric. Marco Rubio, back in Iowa, painted himself as a unity candidate.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Even the people that say mean things about me, I'm going to keep their families safe. I will be a president for all Americans, even the ones that do not support me.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    John Kasich, who just picked up endorsements from The Boston Globe and Concord Monitor, spoke fireside in New Hampshire.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: You can't always be with the most popular. OK? Sometimes, you have got to just be with the ones, the people that don't have any power. Somebody's got to speak for them.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    And Ted Cruz went for bucolic optics, standing among hay bails in Iowa and picking up the endorsement of one of Trump's most vocal critics, former candidate Rick Perry.

    FORMER GOV. RICK PERRY (R), Texas: He loves his country. He loves that Constitution.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Endorsements, handshakes and rallies, every day now is an intense fight for votes.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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