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Politics

3 Takeaways From The South Carolina Democratic Candidate’s Forum

Three interviews with Rachel Maddow in a row gave the candidates a moment in the spotlight. Here's what they did with it.

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1. Martin O’Malley Has A Line Of Attack Against Bernie Sanders

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O'Malley is the last man standing among the Democratic also-rans not named "Clinton" or "Sanders." He tried to break into the top tier with a sharp attack on Sanders over the time in 2011 Sanders told a progressive radio show it would be a good thing for progressives if President Obama was primaried from the left. Sanders's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told BuzzFeed News there was nothing to O'Malley's attack. "He was on a radio show, someone called in and asked if there should be a primary. He's long supported political competition," Weaver said. "He did not actively try to get someone to run against the president, as all of you who cover this know."

2. Bernie Sanders Is Just As Effective When He’s Not Grumpy

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Sanders had fun with Maddow, a journalist he repeatedly praised and said he deeply respects. He was comfortable and he had a good time, joking his way through his standard fare of sharp attacks on the media, dire warnings about the outsized political power of the wealthy, and digs at Clinton for changing her positions on Keystone and other progressive issues Clinton has embraced on the 2016 trail. It was a side of Sanders voters and the press rarely see, but one that is definitely part of his political persona.

Clinton is shellacking her opponents in early South Carolina polling and, after getting the biggest cheer of the night from students gathered at Winthrop University to watch the forum, she basically proceeded as though neither of them existed. She took some pointed questions from Maddow that forced her to defend herself on the death penalty and other issues that separate her from both O'Malley and Sanders, Clinton didn't go after either man.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.

Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at evan@buzzfeed.com.

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