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Democratic Town Hall
The Democratic presidential candidates will meet for a last time before the Iowa caucus on 1 February. Reuters
  • All three Democratic presidential hopefuls took part in the Iowa town hall event hosted by CNN just a week before the Iowa caucuses.
  • Bernie Sanders defended his call for a more activist government, saying the nation's problems are so severe that he's willing to bring back what's been called "the era of big government."
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly reminded voters that they are also electing a commander-in-chief and said attacks on her have accumulated over the years but do not amount to anything.
  • Trailing in third place among the candidates, Martin O'Malley urged his supporters to "hold strong" against old ideologies and "old names."
  • CNN's Chris Cuomo moderated the event from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. where the candidates took 30 minutes to answer questions from Cuomo and the audience made up of Democratic caucus voters.
  • The next Democratic debate will be broadcast on 11 February from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Wisconsin. The PBS-hosted event will be moderated by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff and will air after the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

And that's a wrap for the #DemTownHall. We're just a week away from the Iowa caucuses. All three candidate gave it their all, but it remains to be seen if it will make a difference in the caucuses.

Clinton is asked which president she admires most. She quickly apologises to Obama and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and says she's most inspired by the 16th president: Abraham Lincoln.

Like Sanders before her, Clinton is asked to watch and comment on her biggest Democratic rival's latest campaign advert. "I love it," Clinton says. "I love the energy...," she adds, but notes that she believes she's the best candidate for the US.

Another question from voters, this time Zach Peiper asks Clinton how she'll be able to work with Republicans after the Benghazi attacks and subsequent hearings.

Clinton says that Republicans are only keeping the Benghazi attacks alive because they need to for the elections. She maintains that she has taken into consideration any suggestions she's received from Congressional committees. Clinton then gives two examples of how Congress held by one party has been able to work with a president from the opposing party in times of terrorist attacks.

I want to be the president for everyone.

-Clinton when asked what she would say to Republican voters if elected President

Undecided voter Erum Tariq-Munir asks if America is really the place to raise Muslim-American children. Clinton immediately takes a swipe at Donald Trump's divisive and controversial comments towards Muslims. "We cannot tolerate this," Clinton says, adding that no one should be discriminated against. She also notes that Middle Eastern nations are less likely to join a coalition against Isis if there is rhetoric against Muslims in the US.

Cuomo cites Sanders's earlier comments on Clinton's vote on the Iraq war and America's relations with the international community. She said she admits Iraq was a wrong vote, but blames Bush Administration for the state of international relations when Obama took office.

Dick Goodson, a Clinton supporter, notes that he was a lukewarm Clinton supporter but said that the Benghazi hearings convinced him she earned his support. Goodson asks about how much of an interventionists would she be as president.

Clinton mentions Obama's recent interview and the Iranian incident involving US Navy sailors. She says that military action should be the last action taken and that although diplomacy is slower, it is better. In regards to Syria: she stands firm against ground troops.

Elena Dietz, another Sanders supporter, asks: How can we be sure income inequality will be a top issue for you? Like her previous answer, Clinton notes her past accomplishments in all types of inequality—economic, racial and gender. The former secretary of state doesn't shy away from discussing her time as First Lady.

Taylor Gipple, a Bernie Sanders supporter, asks Clinton where's the enthusiasm among young voters for her campaign. Clinton says she sees plenty of enthusiasm. She then delves into the adversity she's faced in working for children and young people. She adds that younger voters need a candidate that has a proven record.

Clinton is asked: How did you wind up back in Iowa in a nail-biter against a self-described socialist?

She applauds the campaigning done on the Democratic side, taking a quick swipe at Republicans.

Two candidates down and just one candidate to go during this #DemTownHall. The leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, makes her way to her stage. Cuomo mentions Clinton's Boston Globe and Des Moines Register endorsements and the supportive words from President Obama.

Benjamin Folladori asks O'Malley what is the last thing he would tell undecided voters to gain support. O'Malley says he's the only candidate that has a record of not being a divider but being a politician that is able to work with both Democrats and Republicans. "Lift up a new leader," he calls on Iowa caucus voters.

A key question about the 15% support for the Iowa caucuses. Cuomo asks O'Malley that if he doesn't reach the needed level of support, who should his backers pick instead. O'Malley says his supports to "hold strong" in their caucuses.

Brian Carlson, a Drake University Student leaning towards Clinton, asks O'Malley about gay rights beyond marriage equality. O'Malley says that every generation works towards including making the US more inclusive.

The largest applause all night, when O'Malley brings up comprehensive immigration reform. He says that bringing out the 11M undocumented immigrants out of the shadows will help the economy.

Our economy is not money. It's people.

-Martin O'Malley

Undecided voter Arnold Woods, the NAACP president for the Des Moines chapter, asks about reinstating the draft or giving young people an opportunity to serve their country. O'Malley pushes for more employment opportunities.

The next question comes from young voter Jenna Bishop, who asks O'Malley what issue in this election does he think young voters should care about most and why? While his notes that college affordability is a major issue, he says that climate change and clean energy are the issues that should be focused on.

Small business owner Dan Koenig, who is leaning for Sanders, asks O'Malley about lessening the burden of health care costs. O'Malley says that the Affordable Care Act is not a perfect plan, but that no plan is ever introduced perfect. He adds that there needs to be a change in what is being paid for.

Undecided voter Joi Latson, a student at Iowa State University, asks O'Malley about his ability to ensure racial equality when his record contradicts his platform to fight racism.

O'Malley says he never stopped searching how best to deal with policing. He also mentions Black Lives Matter and notes that he increased voting opportunities and outlawed capital murder in Maryland.

O'Malley is on the stage and Cuomo starts off by discussing Clinton's latest newspaper endorsement from the Des Moines Register. The state's biggest newspaper claimed O'Malley was better suited to be a member of Clinton's cabinet. The former governor says he's in it to win it.

One candidate down, two more to go. Based on CNN's pre-established format, O'Malley is up next. Here's his latest campaign video from his team in Iowa:

Closing Arguments - The Iowa Way

VIDEO: From city to city and town to town, Martin O'Malley has campaigned the Iowa way! #IACaucus

Posted by O'Malley For Iowa on Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sanders begins to wrap up his 30 minutes, gives accolades to both Clinton and O'Malley but maintains the US is ready for a political revolution.

On a lighter note, Cuomo asks Sanders if he was a good athlete and what sports he played. Sanders notes his awards in basketball and long-distance running.

Cuomo then switches up to a more serious question about Sanders's health and age. The senator confirms that he will release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses.

Carrie Crawford, an undecided voter, tackles gun control and mental health issues in the next voter question.

Sanders talks about his support of instant background checks and his past opposition to military-style assault weapons. He says he supports President Obama's executive order against the gun show loophole.

Cuomo asks Sanders to clear up his past opposition to some gun controls, particularly holding gun sellers liable for the illegal action of buyers. Sanders says he believes that large-scale gun sellers should be held accountable, but small gun shop owners should not.

Sanders also says that everyone in the US who has a mental health issue should have access to medical help.

And we're back. Sanders is asked to comment on Clinton's latest campaign advert, which touts her as the best candidate to become president when it comes to foreign policy. The senator says he has known Clinton for 25 years and applauds her political career. However, he notes that she voted for the war in Iraq, while he voted against. He discusses the deregulation of Wall Street, marking yet another difference between Clinton and himself. "See where Clinton was on this issue," he says. Lastly, he talks climate change and trade negotiations.

We're at the night's first commercial break. The event is definitely moving quicker than past debates, with the candidates given the opportunity to talk on a number of issues. Sanders has gotten off to a strong start, even earning a few laughs along the way. "Leave me alone, I'm trying to win her vote," he quipped to Cuomo as he tried to woo Kulash's vote.

Sanders takes on a question from voter Alexis Kulash, who admits she supports Hillary Clinton. Kulash asks how Sanders could be more helpful for women if he calls Planned Parenthood part of the establishment government and is not a woman himself.

The senator clarifies that he 100% supports abortion and the Planned Parenthood organisation. He also says he believes in equal pay for equal work, making a special note of minority women. Sanders says his support for higher minimum wage will affect all, but will particularly women.

Ron Edwards, an attorney, asks what specific actions will Sanders take to break political gridlock and get support for his initiatives. Sanders notes that he is perhaps the most progressive member of Congress and that it has not stopped him from working across the aisle with senators such as Republican John McCain.

When asked: "Do you want to bring back the 'era of big government'?" Sanders evades giving a straight yes or no answer. He touches again on education and income and wealth inequality without flat out saying he would bring about "big government".

The third question comes from Drake University student Sean Callison. He asks: How will you realistically fund the programmes you've pitched?

Sanders discusses income and wealth inequality. Says his government would make Wall Street pay its fair share.

Cuomo is up next. The moderator notes that in order to fund Sanders's healthcare programme, he will have to raise taxes. The senator confirms that he will raise taxes, but says he will also eliminate private health insurance premiums.

Next question comes from Renea Seagren, a registered nurse, who questions Sanders's single-payer healthcare plan. She asks: Why do you think people will support your "Medicare for all" programme?

Sanders answers that he believes voters will support his healthcare plan because everyone should have a right to comprehensive healthcare plan. He specifically notes the rising costs of prescriptions in the US.

The first voter question comes from Gerri Ohde. She asks: Can you define what socialism means to you?

Sanders says the government should make sure that young people should have access to a free education. "We cannot continue to have a government run by the billionaire class," Sanders continues. He adds that he wants the government to work for all and not just for some.

Sanders is on the stage. Cuomo asks him how surprised he is by the hashtag #FeelTheBern. The Vermont senator points to his traditional talking points: corrupt campaign spending and establishment politics.

The #DemTownHall is mere seconds away from beginning. We remind you that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to appear first. The town hall event will differ from the debates in that voters will be able to question the candidates directly and candidates will appear separately.

CNN teases the town hall with a special video on Facebook:

The clock is ticking down for the first real vote of 2016. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley face Iowa voters tonight in the #DemTownHall

Posted by CNN on Friday, January 22, 2016

As the Iowa caucuses and primary elections throughout the US get closer, fighting among the candidates have gotten more intense. In a 21 January interview with CNN, Clinton attempted to turn the "establishment" tide on Sanders, noting that the senator had served in Congress for 25 years.

"I just don't understand what that means. He's been in Congress, he's been elected to office a lot longer than I have," she said. "He's been in the Congress for 25 [years]. And so I'll let your viewers make their own judgment," Clinton added, noting she only served in the Senate for eight years.

The Democratic Iowa town hall event will begin broadcasting live at 9pm EST/2am GMT on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. Recent Iowa polls reveal Sanders and Clinton are neck-a-neck in the Hawkeye State, with Sanders holding a slight advantage in several polls. O'Malley, meanwhile, is holding steady in third place—albeit with declining poll numbers.

  • Fox News (25 Jan): Clinton 48%, Sanders 42%, O'Malley 3%
  • ARG (25 Jan): Sanders 48%, Clinton 45%, O'Malley 3%
  • CBS News/YouGov (24 Jan): Sanders 47%, Clinton 46%, O'Malley 5%