Democratic Presidential Debate: 5 Moments That Mattered

The two Democratic presidential hopefuls faced off in Milwaukee on Thursday.

ByABC News
February 11, 2016, 11:09 PM

— -- In the final Democratic debate before the Nevada caucuses, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off at a pivotal moment in the race for the Democratic nomination.

After a sweeping loss in the New Hampshire primary earlier this week, the former Secretary of State aimed to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, Sanders needed to generate more momentum and support from non-white voters as he heads to more moderate, diverse states.

The Democratic presidential candidates turn to Nevada next Saturday, where each candidate needs to take a stand.

Here are five moments that mattered from the Democratic debate:

1. Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Over and over Bernie Sanders hammers home his one message: The economy is rigged and money corrupts politics. And tonight, Clinton stole it from him.

"There aren't enough good paying jobs, especially for young people. And yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top,” she said during her opening remarks, echoing the Vermont Senator almost word-for-word from his stump speech.

Clinton also dropped the “R” word during her concession speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

While imitation is the biggest form of flattery, it might also be the biggest sign that the once-presumed Democratic frontrunner is scrambling to find a new message.

2. History on the Stage

Hillary Clinton was asked tonight about the 55 percent of female voters supporting Bernie Sanders over the former Secretary of State in New Hampshire and what women are "missing" about her. She answered that she has "spent my entire adult life working toward making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices, even if that choice is not to vote for me."

She then took the opportunity to note some history on the stage:

"I would note just for an historic aside, somebody told me earlier today we've had like 200 presidential primary debates. And this is the first time there have been a majority of women on the stage," she said referring to herself and moderators PBS's Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. "So you know, we'll take our progress wherever we can find it."

Woodruff quipped: "Senator Sanders, you're in the minority but we still want to hear from you."

The Vermont Senator -- who would be the first Jewish president -- noted, "I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well."

3. Sanders Takes On Race Relations

Bernie Sanders made two unequivocal statements on race tonight. First, this -- “We are looking at institutional racism,” the Vermont Senator declared, citing incarceration rates, youth unemployment, and systemic poverty along racial lines.

Sanders, who desperately needs to close the gap and improve his name recognition with African American and other minority voters as he race for the party’s nomination moves beyond Iowa and New Hampshire, then went further.

Asked point blank if race relations would be better under a Sanders administration, he did not hesitate, “Yes.”

“What we will do is say instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low income kids so they're not hanging out on street corners. We're going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education,” he continued.

4. Bernie’s Fight Over Fundraising

It’s no surprise that Sanders brought up “a corrupt campaign finance system” where “extraordinarily wealthy people make very large contributions to super PACs.“