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It's the final weekend before the New Hampshire primary, and the eyes of the political world are focused on the Granite State. Candidates are dashing across the state to win over as many votes as possible.
Political director Lisa Desjardins, who is in Manchester, reports that when the two remaining Democrats took center stage together, they heated up a cold New England night.
Four days before the balloting, the Democratic race is now about defining and definitions.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Well, let me start by saying that Senator Sanders and I share some very big progressive goals.
Progressive, that was Hillary Clinton's key word from minute one of last night's debate, even as Bernie Sanders tried to tie her to a different word: moderate.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: It is what she said, and all that I said, there's nothing wrong with being a moderate. But you can't be a moderate. You can't be a progressive.
Sanders attacked and Clinton countered.
But if we're going to get into labels, I don't think it was particularly progressive to vote against the Brady Bill five times.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
I don't think it was progressive to vote to give gun makers and sellers immunity.
Minutes later, another sharp exchange over Sanders' repeated mention of the speaking fees Clinton previously collected from banks.
There is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to, you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.
And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. So I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks, and let's talk — let's talk about the issues.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:
Let's talk let's talk about issues, all right? Let's talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided — spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions?
Well, some people might think, yes, that had some influence.
Sanders hammered home a chief campaign issue for him: that Wall Street is hoarding wealth and politicians have left it uncontrolled.
It is not one street. Wall Street is an entity of unbelievable economic and political power. That's a fact.
Sanders also launched his top charge against Clinton.
Not only did I vote against that war. I helped lead the opposition
Raising her 2002 vote that authorized the Iraq War.
Look, we did differ. A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats that we face right now.
And we have to be prepared to take them on.
But that led to a longer back-and-forth, where Clinton sharply questioned some of Sanders' foreign policy grasp.
Such as inviting Iranian troops into Syria to try to resolve the conflict there, putting them right on the doorstep of Israel, asking Saudi Arabia and Iran to work together, when they can't stand each other, and are engaged in a proxy battle right at this moment.
I fully, fully concede that Secretary Clinton, who was secretary of state for four years, has more experience. That is not arguable in foreign affairs. But experience is not the only point. Judgment is.
For all of that heat during last night's one-on-one clash, the major opponent today in the Granite State was snow. It slowed the day's events, but candidates plowed on.
Jeb Bush was out in Derry today. And former first lady Barbara Bush braved the conditions as well, touting her son during a make-or-break week for him.
BARBARA BUSH, Former First Lady:
Vote for Jeb.
Voters still came out to see John Kasich in Hollis for what was his 99th town hall. His campaign, like that of Jeb Bush, hinges on a solid showing in next Tuesday's primary. The snow didn't get in the way of several women senators, either. They joined New Hampshire's governor in Manchester today, in a bid to give Clinton, their former colleague, a post-debate boost.
Four days to go, and it is already a blitz, or, if you will, blizzard here in New Hampshire. Even with today's snow, Judy, candidates held some 20 events today, like this one here at a middle school gym for Marco Rubio.
One note about this event. The Rubio campaign was very happy to tell me that they originally scheduled this for the cafeteria of this school, but they had more people show up than they expected and they moved it to the gym — Judy.
Well, that's surprising they would want to share that information with you, Lisa.
So, you have been to several candidate events today. What are the voters saying to you?
When you talk to New Hampshire voters who go to these events, to be honest, Judy, I feel a lot of them are still soft. Most of them seem to be honing in on their own private list of two or three candidates.
And what surprised me, Judy, was the combination of candidates. I talked to two different voters today who are looking at one Democrat and one Republican. For example, a man I talked to, former firefighter, thinking about Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio. That's a combination that might surprise people, but he said what he's looking for is integrity.
And that's a word I heard throughout. Also here at this event, those who are looking at Rubio, the Republicans, it does seem like they're considering Rubio against Trump or Rubio against Cruz, but the key there, Judy, is that these are voters who say they weren't paying that much attention to Marco Rubio, say, a month ago. Now they're here and they want to see him in person.
So, are you picking up a sense that Rubio has benefited from coming in third in Iowa, a close third to Donald Trump?
I think absolutely he's benefited.
Now, I don't think he's locked in those votes yet, but I think he has people considering him who were not before. I also think Marco Rubio is benefiting from doubts about the other candidates, about the fight between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Donald Trump saying that Ted Cruz doesn't get along with anyone, I have heard that from people here today at this Rubio event.
On the other hand, Ted Cruz saying that Donald Trump is a hothead who can't be trusted, say, with the nuclear arsenal, I have heard that as well. Rubio seems to be benefiting from that fight from the top two. Now, how that will end, I don't know. Rubio obviously has to prove himself on his own. Donald Trump wasn't in the state today, as we said, because of the weather, and he is trying to re-angle his campaign, Judy, trying to be — do more retail politics than we have seen before.
So far, his campaign hasn't proven that they know quite how to do that, but they're trying. If they can pull that off, it might help him here.
And, Lisa, is it thought that not being in the state today will matter for Donald Trump? And, by the way, both Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are going to be leaving the state for part of the weekend.
Right, the tightest race that we have, the Democratic race, if you look nationally, both candidates are taking time from the campaign trail.
Bernie Sanders, he is going to be on "Saturday Night Live" with Larry David. I think some of our viewers will be happy to imagine how that will go. And then Hillary Clinton is going to Flint, Michigan. Those are two very different events, but it shows that both of these candidates are looking past New Hampshire, maybe for different reasons, Hillary Clinton knowing she's behind, wanting to talk to, perhaps, Flint, Michigan, a group that could appeal, to, say, South Carolina, where there are a lot of African-American and sort of lower-income voters.
Bernie Sanders trying to appeal more broadly nationally, where he and Clinton are the closest. As for Donald Trump, I do think New Hampshire voters notice when a candidate is not here. They have noticed. And I think the Trump campaign is aware of that.
So, I think we will watch this weekend and see if he starts scheduling more events. Certainly, the Trump campaign wants to win, but they're used to very large speeches. And they're right now just retooling for the retail politics of New Hampshire.
Well, we know voters in New Hampshire and Iowa expect to see their candidates and see them often. So, we will see.
Lisa Desjardins in New Hampshire for the weekend through the duration, thank you.
My pleasure. Thank you.
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