With the Democratic presidential contest in Iowa a toss-up less than a week from the first vote of 2016, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Monday took starkly different approaches to pursuing wavering voters in their final appearance on the same stage.
An uncharacteristically confrontational Sanders, taking umbrage at the barrage of attacks from his rival's campaign, launched into a spirited critique of Clinton's career. Clinton responded later with little of the feistiness she has shown recently on the campaign trail, instead reverting to her earlier posture of confident front-runner, emphasizing her qualifications for the office and trying to avoid engaging her rivals.
Except Clinton is no longer the clear front-runner in Iowa. She is locked in an unexpectedly tight race with the self-described democratic socialist senator from Vermont, scrambling to avoid an early loss that would significantly complicate her path to the nomination.
The town hall Monday night at Drake University in Des Moines, hosted by CNN, was an opportunity for the candidates to make what amounted to closing arguments. Though the rivals did not appear onstage together — each separately fielded questions from audience members and CNN moderator Chris Cuomo — the stakes were as high as those of a presidential debate.
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