The first of four newly announced Democratic debates took place on Thursday night at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The event marked the first formal face-off between front-runner Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Martin O'Malley dropped out the night of the Iowa caucuses.) At the first caucuses of the election, Clinton declared victory, narrowly besting Sanders, while the Vermont senator was impressed with his showing in the face of what might have seemed like a long shot when he first announced his candidacy. The former secretary of state was clearly looking to capitalize on the slight momentum she has going her way, and is doing anything that she can to set herself apart from her fellow candidate. Hillary Clinton's closing statement certainly reflected that.
Thursday's newly announced debate is positioned perfectly between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, which is set to take place Tuesday. Sanders is currently projected to win, and Clinton's camp has sent a mixed message on how intensely they'll be focusing on New Hampshire voters. Nonetheless, the presidential hopeful was incredibly engaged and willing to face moderators Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd head-on as they asked difficult questions about foreign policy and economics. Similarly, she addressed Sanders' challenges fairly explicitly. Clinton truly tied it all together with her closing statement, playing up her momentum and focusing on her Republican compatriots rather than targeting Sanders.
In her closing statement, Clinton said:
Thanks to MSNBC and thanks to all of you for holding this debate before the New Hampshire Primary. I am going to campaign as hard as I can between now and Tuesday to earn your votes in that primary.
I hear some talks that people are trying to decide: Do they vote with their heart? Do they vote with their head? I'm asking people to bring both your heart and your head to vote with you on Tuesday because we have a lot of work that can only come because your heart is moved.
You know, we didn't get to talk about the continuing struggles that Americans face with racism, with sexism, with discrimination against the LGBT community, with new Americans, with people with disabilities.Yes, we have income inequality. We have other forms of inequality that we need to stand up against and absolutely diminish from our society.
So, I have been moved by my heart ever since I was a young woman about the age of a lot of Sen. Sanders' supporters, worrying about what I could do to make a difference for my country and I will bring that heart with me, but I will also tell you: we've got to get our heads together to come up with the best answers to solve the problems so that people can have real differences in their lives that will make them better for now and into the future.
Her closing statement is one of unity. It also brings to the forefront the many issues that have sadly yet to be addressed on a national debate stage.
Tuesday brings the New Hampshire primary, and the next Democratic debate is set for Thursday, Feb. 11. Hopefully, moderators Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will take note of Clinton's concerns, making for yet another thoughtful showdown between the two candidates.