In Brief

Bernie Sanders faces attacks during chaotic debate

Final debate before critical contests features noisy and bitter exchanges

Bernie Sanders has come under attack in the final Democrat debate before the critical South Carolina presidential primary and Super Tuesday contests.

The debate was the most shambolic and noisy so far. The Guardian said the candidates “bickered and shouted over each other in a series of chaotic exchanges”.

Lawyer and political commentator Raul A. Reyes told CNN the debate was “somewhere between an episode of The Jerry Springer Show and a Real Housewives reunion: messy, chaotic and embarrassing for nearly everyone involved”.

Fox News says Sanders faced multiple claims that his “sweeping plans were little more than an expensive path to a ‘catastrophic, Corbyn-esque downballot rout” at the polls.

Writing on Twitter, Piers Morgan said it was a “terrible debate… just don’t seen any of them beating an incumbent President”. The BBC adds that the debate “was full of tense moments and sharp exchanges”.

One such exchange came when Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, raised reports that Moscow was attempting to help Sanders' campaign. He said that Russians were interested in Sanders' campaign because a Sanders nomination would give Trump the best chance of a second term.

The former vice President Joe Biden accused Sanders of wanting to launch a primary campaign against former President Barack Obama, saying that was not evidence of Sanders being “progressive”. Sanders denies the accusation.

Pete Buttigieg said: “If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump.”

In the face of this onslaught, front-runner Sanders quipped: “I'm hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight - I wonder why.”

Buttigieg was chosen by CNN as its winner on the night. He was “at his absolute best in this debate,” it said, adding: “If voters were looking for a Sanders alternative who looked like he could be commander in chief in this debate, Buttigieg made a very good case for himself.”

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