When asked to name the difference between himself and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders aggressively went after his opponent, hitting her on her campaign contributions.
"Well, the first difference is I don't take money from big banks. I don't get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs," Sanders said emphatically, drawing a reaction from the crowd at the Democratic debate held in Charleston, South Carolina.
Caption:CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 17: Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) field questions from moderators Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell (R) during the Democratic Candidates Debate hosted by NBC News and YouTube on January 17, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina. This is the final debate for the Democratic candidates before the Iowa caucuses. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
"They have too much economic power, and they have too much financial power over our entire economy," Sanders said Sunday.
Clinton argued that there is "no daylight" of differences between her and Sanders and quipped that the two candidates both believe that "there should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too powerful to jail." However, Clinton returned the attack and accused Sanders of not being supportive enough of President Barack Obama.
"He's criticized President Barack Obama for taking donations from Wall Street, and President Obama has led our country out of the Great Recession," Clinton said. "Sen. Sanders called him weak, disappointing. He even in 2011 publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama. Now I personally believe that President Obama's work to push through Dodd-Frank, the Dodd-Frank bill, and then to sign it was one of the most important regulatory schemes we've had since the 1930's. I'm going to defend Dodd-Frank, and I'm going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, for taking on the financial industry and getting results."
For his part, Sanders laughed throughout much of Clinton's response. He also said he wanted to "set the record straight" and said he worked to get Obama elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012.
"Here is the issue. Secretary Clinton touched on it. Can you really reform Wall Street when they're spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions, and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals," he countered. "So it's easy to say, 'I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that,' but I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street. I am very proud. I do not have a Super PAC. I do not want Wall Street's money. I rely on the middle class and working families for my campaign contributions."
Like most of the debate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley remained silent throughout the exchange.