Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made their cases during a town hall forum hosted by CNN as Iowa residents prepare to caucus.
The gathering is widely regarded as an important contest ahead of the following 50 primaries and caucuses held in each state and the District of Columbia.
A new poll conducted by CNN/ORC shows Clinton topping Sanders 52 percent to 38 percent nationwide. That’s the lowest margin since early September.
In Iowa, the race is far tighter with those candidates topping each another in separate polls.
O’Malley has languished in the low single digits nationally and in Iowa. His showing, while certainly far from final, has essentially narrowed the race for many Americans to Clinton and Sanders.
While Clinton touts her leadership credentials as America’s top diplomat, first lady and senator, the Vermont senator, an avowed populist and democratic socialist, continues to be dogged by questions about his electability.
But he showed no signs of relenting or moderating Monday night.
“I demand that Wall Street start paying its fair share of taxes,” he said during a fiery tirade against wealth redistribution that he claimed has seen trillions of dollars move from middle class hands to America’s wealthiest citizens.
“People want to criticize me? Okay. I will take on the greed of corporate America, and the greed of Wall Street and fight to protect the middle class,” he added. “We need a political revolution.”
Clinton, meanwhile, has painted herself as a more pragmatic choice for many Democratic voters hoping to see the party hold onto the White House. “I want to start from the belief that we can find common ground,” she said of her Republican counterparts. “That is exactly what we intend to do.”
Asked why she didn’t address income inequality earlier in her campaign when Sanders has made it a hallmark of his run, Clinton said that she has dedicated her career to fighting all types of inequality.
In response to a Muslim-American Air Force veteran who asked about Islamophobia in the U.S., Clinton lambasted anti-Muslim rhetoric used by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
“I found it particularly harmful – the way that he has talked about Muslims – American Muslims and Muslims around the world,” she said. “It’s not only shameful and offensive, which it is, I think it’s dangerous,” she added.