Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went into the third Democratic debate on Saturday with a clear message: Democrats need to nominate a candidate who can beat the Republican nominee.
Clinton bookended her appearance at the debate in New Hampshire by drawing a "stark contrast" between herself and the Republican Party.
“We have to prevent the Republicans from rolling back the progress that we’ve made,” Clinton said during her opening remarks.
In her closing statement some two hours later, Clinton laid out a vision of what she believed the US would look like under a Republican president.
"A lot of the rights that have been won over years — from women's rights, to voter rights, to gay rights, to worker rights — will be at risk. Social Security, which Republicans call a 'Ponzi scheme,' may face privatization," Clinton said.
"The list goes on because the differences are so stark. ... This is a watershed election. I know how important it is that we have a Democrat succeed President Obama in the White House."
For Clinton, that became the common theme throughout the night. She gave her top rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), a pass amid a burgeoning data-breach scandal, insinuating that the American public at large doesn't care about the squabble. She was cordial with the only other opponent onstage, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).
Instead, Clinton repeatedly criticized the Republican candidates during her time onstage, her favorite being front-running counterpart Donald Trump. She rarely attacked her Democratic opponents unless provoked by a moderator or in response to their attacks on her.
"I think it's great standing up here with the senator and the governor talking about these issues because you're not going to hear anything like this from any of the Republicans who are running for president," Clinton said.
At multiple points during the evening, Clinton mentioned Trump, saying his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering into the US was actually inspiring radicalization efforts.
"A lot of people are understandably reacting out of fear and anxiety about what they’re seeing [with terrorist attacks], and Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make them think there are easy answers to very complex questions,"Clinton said.
"We have to make sure the really discriminatory messages Donald Trump is sending around the world do not fall on receptive ears," Clinton continued.
Finally, at another point, she charged that Trump was "becoming ISIS’ best recruiter."
"They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists," she said.
Despite her unabashed rhetoric toward her Republican counterparts, the former secretary of state did attempt to end on a note that crossed party lines.
"Thank you, good night, and may the force be with you," Clinton said.