WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders largely evaded criticism in last week's debate. But Tuesday night, the Democratic frontrunner wasn't so lucky.
"I'm hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight,” Sanders said early on in the debate. "I wonder why?"
Sanders, who is leading in national polling and won the popular vote in all three early voting states, was questioned about his electability and was criticized once again for his signature policy, Medicare For All.
Seven candidates took the stage Tuesday night for the last debate before Saturday's South Carolina's primary and Super Tuesday next week.
Here's a look at how each candidate performed:
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Biden needs a win Saturday night. And he was confident in that win at Tuesday night's debate.
“I will win South Carolina,” Biden vowed. “And I will win the African American vote.”
Biden came out swinging against Sanders, as well as billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who is in third place in South Carolina and is also is targeting African American voters.
Biden slammed Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill, which established background checks and waiting periods for handgun purchases. BIden claimed that had provisions of that bill been in place, it could have prevented a white supremacist from taking nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is in Charleston where the debate is being held.
“Bernie voted five times against the Brady Bill,” Biden said.
Later on in the night, Biden also looked directly at the camera and vowed to take on gun manufacturers.
“If I’m elected, I’m coming for you,” he said, “and gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on.”
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg wasn't the main punching bag Tuesday night, but he did take some hits from his opponents.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren once again confronted Bloomberg about releasing women from non-disclosure agreements that may have been signed in connection to settlements over sexual harassment claims.
“People want a chance to hear from the women who have worked for Mike Bloomberg,” Warren continued.
Bloomberg was once again asked to address stop and frisk, a policy that disproportionately targeted black and brown men. The former New York City mayor said he cut the program back after it got out of control, that he has apologized and since met with black leaders. He also pointed to the more than 100 black elected officials who have endorsed him when asked how he could put to rest any lingering fears about stop and frisk.
Despite the criticisms, Bloomberg was light-hearted at times and made several jokes.
He joked that he was surprised that the other candidates showed up “after I did such a good job at beating them last week,” a clear reference to his widely panned debate performance in las Vegas. He thought “that they’d be a little bit afraid to do that,” Bloomberg added, to some laughter from the audience.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg wanted to make clear that he's the most electable candidate, and that meant trying to take down Sanders.
Buttigieg repeatedly attacked Sanders over his Medicare for All policy, saying that it would lead to President Donald Trump being re-elected.
However, Buttigieg was also pressed about a topic that has loomed over his campaign: race relations.
Buttigieg, who is polling in single digits with black voters, was questioned about the stop-and-frisk policy that Bloomberg implemented in New York City and which disproportionately targeted black and brown men. Buttigieg called the practice racist.
“It was about profiling people based on race,” he said.
But Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, added that he’s coming at the issue of discrimination with a “great deal of humility” because his community has had its own struggles. Last summer, a white South Bend police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man and Buttigieg has also been criticized for his previous firing of the black South Bend police chief.
Buttigieg also noted that he was concerned everyone on the debate stage talking about the issue was white, so none has the lived experience to know what it’s like to be a person of color.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klomentum might be hitting some turbulence.
Klobuchar, who placed sixth in Nevada after a surge to third in New Hampshire, had to wait 15 minutes before she could get a word in at Tuesday's debate.
And while she got the third most speaking time, she did not have the standout moment she did when she went after Buttigieg during the Nevada debate. Klobuchar is trailing by a large margin in South Carolina polls and was looking for that big moment again.
But she did land at least one of her signature jokes.
She touted her Midwest roots when asked whether she would meet with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. Klobuchar said yes she would, but not take the same approach as Trump.
Trump thinks he can bring “a hot dish to the dictator next door,” she said, adding that the president's meetings with Kim have simply emboldened the North Korean leader.
In addition, she said she would work with U.S. allies – “that is what this president fails at all the time” – to reopen arms negotiations and stand up to adversaries like Russia.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders was hit harder than he has been in any other debate.
As in previous debates, Sanders was once again asked to put a price tag on Medicare for All and how he would pay for it. Buttigieg was quick to say that Sanders' signature policy would cost Democrats the presidency, as well as control of the House and Senate.
“It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said of Sanders' Medicare for All proposal.
Sanders also received flak for his recent comments praising aspects of Fidel Castro's Cuba. Sanders, however, defended his comments, saying that former President Barack Obama made similar comments.
“What I said is what Barack Obama said in terms of Cuba – that Cuba made progress on education,” Sanders said, prompting some booing from the audience.
Despite the onslaught of attacks from his Democratic opponents, Sanders ended the night on a high note.
He received loud applause after quoting Nelson Mandela for the motto "that moves me the most."
"Mandela said, 'Everything is impossible until it happens,'" Sanders said. The Vermont Senator prefaced the quote by saying that the biggest misconception about him is that "the ideas I'm talking about are radical."
"They're not," he said. "In one form or another, they exist in countries all over the world. "
Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer
Steyer didn't have the blowout night he likely needed ahead of Saturday's primary.
Steyer, who has polled in third place in South Carolina, didn't get much speaking time. He was also heavily attacked by Biden, who is leading in the state. Biden slammed Steyer for his lack of political experience and his support for private prisons.
"Tommy come lately," Biden said at one point.
To make the case for himself, Steyer said Democrats are taking a huge gamble if they nominate Sanders or Bloomberg as the nominee.
Steyer said the party risks re-electing Trump if its nominee “is going to be a Democratic socialist” or – in Bloomberg’s case – “someone who has a long history of being a Republican.”
“If we can not pull this party together, … we have a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Once again, Warren didn't hold back on Bloomberg.
Warren's feistiest moments of the night where when she criticized Bloomberg for money he has given to "right-wing" Republican candidates, including South Carolina's GOP senator Lindsey Graham. She also noted that Bloomberg in 2012, "scooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger.
"That was me," she said. "It didn't work, but he tried hard."
Warren said she doesn't care how much money Bloomberg has, but rather that Democrats can't trust him because he has backed so many Republicans and used to be a Republican.
"He has not earned their trust," Warren said.
Warren also criticized Sanders, but lightly, throughout the debate for not laying out the details for some of his progressive policies like she had.
She noted how they both want universal health care, but that Sanders’ plan doesn’t explain how to get there.
“I dug in and did the work and then Bernie’s team trashed me for it,” she said.