The fourth Democratic Debate, moderated by NBC, took place last night at 9pm ET in Charleston, SC. It was definitely one of the most lively debates between these three candidates. Interestingly enough, there was no Pledge of Allegiance or Star Spangled Banner to start the night off but there was plenty of discussion about the direction of America. This debate focused on issues such as health care, campaign finance, racial issues, gun control, and foreign policy. As always, the Dems managed to hide their debate from the world by holding it on a Sunday night during NFL playoffs, surely impacting the number of viewers. If you are one of those people who missed the debate, don’t worry – we didn’t.

Here’s a recap!

Bernie Takes Center Stage and Doesn’t Hold Back

Many commentators are referring to this as the Bernie Sanders debate. A different side of Bernie definitely came out last night. Sanders was clearly on the offense and many people even commented on him yelling at times. Bernie didn’t hesitate to talk over the moderators and even interject to give his input on topics, despite the moderator’s protests. This is a new side of Bernie, one that we haven’t seen too much of and I can’t help but wonder if it has anything to do with the Iowa Caucus approaching in two short weeks.

Hillary Aligns Herself With President Obama

Hillary spent a good portion of this debate praising President Obama and emphasizing his successes over the past 8 years. She went as far as to say that “President Obama has led our country out of the great recession” while criticizing Sanders for saying that the President is weak. Hillary also spoke of the President’s advances with the Iran Deal and Obamacare. Overall, Hillary used this debate as a way to stick to the Democratic base and avoid any extreme tendencies so that she can hold on to the moderate votes.

Still No Real Answer to the Daunting Question

Bernie, once again, opened the debate talking about a $15 minimum wage and free college for all – the center of his campaign. Later in the evening, he was asked the question we all have been posing for months – how are you going to pay for it? As always, Bernie avoided the specifics and skirted around the question. He failed to cite statistics and, instead, gave his recurring speech about the wealthy needing to give back to the middle class and his plan to increase taxes on the rich.

Rich, White Candidates Try to Relate

The opening statements were focused around Martin Luther King Jr. Day which led into questions about racial issues across the nation. Hillary cited statistic after statistic regarding the racial discrimination in prosecuting crimes and O’Malley reminded us that Black Lives Matter. The Dems basically spent the first fifteen minutes pretending to relate to racial issues to compensate for their lack of diversity and their undeniable wealth.

Campaign Finance and Health Care Reform

If I had a dollar for every time Bernie mentioned campaign finance reform last night, I could fund my own campaign. In a discussion about affordable health care, he once again brought up the evils of super pacs and campaign finance and then called for an immediate reform. He went as far as to promise that his Secretary of the Treasury would not have any ties to Goldman Sachs and got in a dig at Hillary for accepting speaking fees from Wall Street. Healthcare was one area where we saw a divide as HRC backed extending Obamacare and Bernie instead advocated for a single-payer healthcare system completely run by the government that would raise taxes but apparently save families $5,000/year on health care premiums.

Gun Control

Hillary was ready for this discussion and immediately put Sanders on the spot by criticizing his voting record on this topic. Sanders was also questioned about his clear flip flop on the liability of gun manufacturers but failed to produce an actual response. He instead showcased his D- NRA rating and touched on his fight against the gun lobby way back in 1988.

Foreign Policy

Each of the candidates, in their own way, used this debate to call for a coalition with other countries when it comes to foreign policy. In discussing fighting a war with ISIS, Hillary cited a three point plan in defeating them without using US troops. O’Malley took the spotlight for a moment and discussed the value of American lives rather than just a pair of “boots on the ground” and Sanders emphasized the need for support from other regions. When asked about her relationship with Putin, Clinton deemed it “interesting” but one of respect, and then backed up the President’s restart with Russia.

Overall, this debate, while more heated than the last, didn’t really cover any new topics. Bernie surprised everyone with his combative approach, Hillary hid securely in her Obama blanket, and O’Malley held his own but didn’t stand out enough to make a real name for himself. With the Iowa Caucus just two weeks away, this debate was a crucial point in the election. Did it give Bernie the attention he needed to surge to the top? The results of the Iowa Caucus will surely tell. For now, listening to liberal policies for two hours straight (and trying desperately to stay awake) is behind us and I could not be more excited to focus on the upcoming GOP Primary debate. Not to mention, the time for the Republican and Democratic nominees to face off is quickly approaching. The fun is just getting started. Don’t miss the next GOP primary debate on January 28!