Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders offered an apology to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, during Saturday night's debate, saying one of his staffers did the "wrong thing" in viewing data from Clinton's campaign.
Sanders said his campaign reported the first such accidental breach of voter information by a Democratic National Committee vendor in October, but when another occurred recently at least one campaign worker looked at the information. That person has been fired, and if anyone else is found to have participated, they also will be fired, Sanders said.
But he slammed the Clinton campaign for not handling the issue "quietly" as his campaign did in October.
He said he wants an independent investigation with participation from both campaigns and hinted that Clinton's campaign might have gotten information from his campaign as well.
He slammed the DNC
shutting out his campaign from its own information as an "egregious act." The DNC has since relented.
When asked if he apologized to Clinton he turned to Clinton on the stage and said, "Yes. I apologize."
"I very much appreciate that comment, Bernie," Clinton replied, saying that she wants to work with him on an independent investigation.
Much like Sanders' comment in the previous debate in which he said the public is sick of hearing about Clinton's "damn emails," Clinton said, "We should move on because I don't think the American people are all that interested in this. I think they're more interested in what we have to say about all the big issues facing us."
The two candidates, and a third, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, also debated how to take on Islamic State militants and protect Americans from lone wolf attacks like the Dec. 2 killings of 14 people in a shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.
Sanders noted he had voted against the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq and said he did not believe in unilateral American military action. Clinton, as a U.S. senator from New York, had voted to authorize the war in a vote she has since disavowed.
Clinton criticized Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. She said "the first line of defense against radicalization is in the Muslim community," and that all Americans should work with them.
The rising tensions between Clinton and Sanders, who have largely refrained from attacking each other, occurred at a crucial moment for Sanders, who is trying to erase the front-runner's lead in the November 2016 Democratic White House race just six weeks before Iowa holds the first nominating contest.
On Friday, Sanders filed a lawsuit to force the DNC to restore access to his voter files, which it had blocked after the Sanders campaign improperly accessed files generated by the Clinton campaign. The DNC and Sanders reached a late-night deal restoring access for Sanders.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver accused the DNC of working to protect Clinton, pointing to the party's limited debates at low-viewership periods such as Saturday nights as an example. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook accused the Sanders campaign of stealing parts of its "strategic road map" for voter turnout in the primary battle.
The Sanders campaign said access to the files was restored early on Saturday. While the dispute may not mean much to voters, the bitterness could linger between the two campaigns.
The debate is the party's first since the attacks in San Bernardino, and Sanders also is eager to explore his differences with the former secretary of state on issues such as her support for a no-fly zone in Syria and her 2011 advocacy of regime change in Libya, his campaign said.
Material from Reuters was used in this story.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.