Clinton brushes aside competitors' digs at South Carolina jamboree

Story highlights

  • The two trailing Democrats made it very clear that they were ready and willing to knock Clinton
  • Clinton, however, declined to respond

North Charleston, South Carolina (CNN)If it wasn't obvious that both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley were running behind Hillary Clinton in most national and state presidential polls, Saturday's jamboree along the Ashley River in South Carolina made it eminently clear.

While Clinton declined to directly take on O'Malley and stayed away from the subtle lines she regularly uses to knock Sanders, the two trailing Democrats made it very clear that they were ready and willing to knock the former secretary of state.
Before he even took the stage at the South Carolina Democratic Party Blue Jamboree -- an event that brought out all three Democrats -- Sanders issued a statement challenging Clinton on health care and paid family leave.
    "I am disappointed that Secretary Clinton does not think we should join every other major country in guaranteeing health care through a cost-effective, Medicare-for-all, single-payer system that would save the average family about $5,000 a year," Sanders said, adding in the same statement that he was "surprised" Clinton doesn't support Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Family and Medical Leave Act.
    The lines are an uptick in directness from Sanders, who has in the past has been more subtle in calling out Clinton.
    O'Malley was even more direct the Sanders, telling reporters after his speech that Clinton, because of her more hawkish foreign policy, had "one foot trapped in the Cold War" and "has never demonstrated a capacity to understand what comes after a regime is toppled."
    The former Maryland governor, who endorsed Clinton during her failed presidential run in 2008, also said she would "take orders from the big banks of Wall Street and create an economy of the few, for the few and by the few" as president.
    "I believe in fair market, American capitalism and that is a big difference between Secretary Clinton's Wall Street crony capitalism and Senator Sanders' socialism," he said.
    Clinton, however, declined to respond, instead delivering her rote stump speech, focusing on expanding Medicaid, Republicans and foreign policy.
    "I want to do this right and get results," Clinton said during a riff about the terrorist attacks that rocked Paris last week. The former secretary of state also knocked people "who would paint with such a broad brush, would want us to somehow isolate, register Muslims, go after Islam."
    The line was a not-so-subtle jab at Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has been accused of suggesting the registration of Muslim Americans into a government-run database over terrorism concerns.
    "Our enemy are these criminal killers who misuse a religion in order to recruit people and give them the training to go out and kill more people," she said.
    At no point during her speech did Clinton mention her Democratic opponents. After signing papers to officially get on the ballot in South Carolina, Clinton dismissed O'Malley when asked about his Cold War line.
    "Well, I am not going to respond to him. I am going to say go read my speech because obviously, I laid out a comprehensive strategy to deal with ISIS in the air, on the ground and online," Clinton said, referencing a speech she gave earlier in the week on defeating ISIS.
    In South Carolina, most polls have the former senator up more than 50 percentage points. And nationally, Clinton generally has a more than 20-point lead over Sanders.
    O'Malley also has his own problems. Due to his campaign's problems raising money, the former Maryland governor is shifting resources away from his campaign headquarters in Baltimore and putting more emphasis on early states, especially Iowa. The governor's campaign started this quarter with less than $1 million.
    On Saturday, O'Malley flatly said his campaign was not taking on debt to pay for travel and staff.
    "No, we are not," he said. "In fact, we had the best week of fundraising we have had after the last debate."
    And in a hopeful moment, O'Malley added, "I intend to win this nomination." When a few reporters smiled, he doubled down, "No, I intend to win this nomination. I intend to win the general election."