Democrats spar in New Hampshire in 3-way debate

Posted at 9:17 PM, Dec 19, 2015

With an ignited conflict between front-runner Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders over a data breach scandal that came to head on Friday, the two were joined by Martin O'Malley for a nearly three-hour debate Saturday marking the Democrats' third debate of the 2016 campaign cycle. 

The three presidential hopefuls expressed their views on taxes, war and gun control. Despite the events of Friday, the debate was mostly a cordial one as Sanders apologized to Clinton for what transpired. 

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The debate continued with the three candidates debating on gun control. Saturday's debate marked the first debate since the deadly massacre in in San Bernardino, Calif. two weeks ago. Since then, officials have debated allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, and whether gun control legislation should pass through congress.

Sanders tried to square his background as a senator from the rural state of Vermont with a Democratic primary electorate eager to see tougher gun control regulations.

Sanders said at the Democratic debate, "It's a divided country on guns, but there is a broad consensus on sensible gun safety regulations."

Sanders called for "sensible gun regulations," including eliminating the gun show loophole.

He previously backed legislation that would have given gun manufactures immunity from lawsuits and opposed the Brady Bill.

The debate got a little heated when O'Malley claimed that both Clinton and Sanders are not doing enough to curb gun violence.  He interrupted moderators in the Democratic debate to get a word in on gun control.

O'Malley said the lack of progress on gun safety is due to the "flip-flopping political approach in Washington" represented by Clinton and Sanders.

He points to his record of pushing gun safety laws as governor of Maryland. O'Malley says he overcame objections from the National Rifle Association and crowds that protested new gun safety laws.

The heated remarks from O'Malley prompted pushback from Clinton and Sanders.

"Let's calm down a little bit, Martin," Sanders said. 

"Let's tell the truth, Martin," Clinton responded. 

The only time that any Republican candidate was mentioned during the debate came on a discussion on how to handle terrorism and the Islamic State group's threat to the United States. 

Clinton said GOP front-runner Donald Trump is becoming IS' "best recruiter" with his call to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S.

Clinton said in the third Democratic debate that she understands people are fearful after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

"Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people," Clinton said.

Clinton said Americans need to be united against the threats the country faces, and that Muslim-Americans must be part of that united front.

Sanders said Muslim-majority nations should take the lead in fighting IS.

Sanders said there should be an international coalition including Russia that fights the Islamic State. But he said troops on the ground must be Muslims, and not American troops.

The Vermont senator said countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have to "step up to the plate" and provide needed troops. He added the U.S. should tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, the kingdom should go to war against IS.


Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.