(CN) – The seven frontrunner Democratic presidential candidates sparred on stage Tuesday night in a heated debate in South Carolina where they attempted to distinguish themselves as the one who can beat President Donald Trump in November.
Ganging up on Senator Bernie Sanders, the six other candidates came out of the gate swinging at him and claimed his nomination would result in the reelection of Trump.
“I’ve been hearing my name a lot tonight,” Sanders said.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that nominating Sanders would ensure “four more years” of Trump.
“The presidency is not the only office at stake here,” Buttigieg said. “If the public sees a socialist Democrat as our candidate this would likely result in turning the house red and keeping the Senate majority red.”
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said to Sanders: “Vladimir Putin wants you to become the nominee because he wants Trump to win.”
Sanders returned fire pointing to several national polls that indicate he would beat Trump.
“The biggest misconception about me is that my ideas are radical. In one shape or form these ideas of universal health care, free public universities and college educations are working in other countries and they can work here,” Sanders said.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said while Sanders’ progressive ideas are popular, she has the proven track record needed to implement progressive policies in the White House.
“I successfully reined in Wall Street. I agree with Bernie a lot but I will make a better president,” she said.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar chimed in saying, “President Trump’s biggest fear is that the Democrat nominee will be someone who is moderate that people in the middle can feel good voting for.”
Bloomberg came under fire for his previous contributions to Republican campaigns in various states, for supporting the controversial stop and frisk policy and rumors of his company having a sexist environment.
“He actually supported a campaign of one of my rivals, but he didn’t win that one,” Warren said.
Race was a major recurring theme throughout the two hours of infighting that ensued throughout the event hosted by CBS and co-hosted by The Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston.
According to party statistics, 60% of South Carolina Democratic voters are African Americans.
“I have worked like the devil to get the African American vote,” Former Vice President Joe Biden said.
“Over the years we have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into South Carolina and this city to help create hundreds of jobs and to create affordable housing and for years and years we’ve administered $500 million into this country to support civil rights efforts,” he added. “I expect to win the South Carolina vote and the African American vote here and across the country.
California billionaire Tom Steyer said he would create a policy to provide reparations to African Americans to help repair the damage that was done because of the hundreds of years of slavery.
“I would create a policy that would provide $125 billion dollars to historically African American colleges and universities. Race is a giant subject in business, housing, education, loans and our corrupt criminal justice system,” Steyer said.
The debate in Charleston was held three days before the Democratic primary election in the Palmetto state and the last one to be held prior to the Super Tuesday Elections being held on March 3.