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Story highlights

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley offer condolences, but with varying degrees of caution and focus

Clinton focused most of her ire on the shooting at Republicans, hitting them on guns and women's health

Manchester, New Hampshire CNN —  

The three Democrats running for their party’s presidential nomination, together again in New Hampshire on Sunday night, struck markedly different tones when commenting upon the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic that took the lives of three people.

While Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley offered condolences, they did so with varying degrees of caution and focus after Robert Lewis Dear was accused of shooting up the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, marked the shooting by offering condolences for the victims and arguing “we should be supporting Planned Parenthood, not attacking it.”

But Clinton focused most of her ire on the shooting at Republicans, hitting them on both guns and women’s health.

“In Congress and on the campaign trail, Republicans that claim they just hate big government are only too happy to have government step in when it comes to women’s bodies and heath,” Clinton said at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner. “It is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it.”

Clinton added, “How many more Americans need to die before we take action? Common sense steps like comprehensive background checks, closing the loopholes that let guns fall into the wrong hands, even people on the terrorist watch list.”

Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s toughest competitor for the nomination, offered brief remarks on the issue, wedged into comments he made on campaign finance and same-sex marriage.

“I am running for president because, in these difficult times, against vitriolic Republican rhetoric, we must protect a woman’s right to choose and we must defend Planned Parenthood,” Sanders said before offering “condolences” for those killed in the shooting.

Martin O’Malley, the dark horse in the race whose poll numbers remain in the single digits, said the United States “cannot treat these acts of terrible violence as isolated incidents” and called the shooting an act of “domestic terrorism.”

“This most recent act of terrorism took place at a Planned Parenthood office. Others have taken place in classrooms, schools, in church basements,” he said. “We have to call them out for what they are; they are acts motivated by intolerance, racism and hate. They are designed to prey upon the vulnerable and the unsuspecting. They are in fact acts of murder and acts of terror. And wherever it happens, it is an assault on all of us.”

Most of the three Democratic speeches tracked with the stump speeches Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley usually give, focusing on the policies they regularly discuss at events.

“I know we can do better,” Clinton said. “We are going to make this recovery work for you. We are going to make our economy work for everything, not just those at the top.”

Later, in a subtle knock to other candidates, Clinton said, “Some candidates may be running to make a point. I am running to make a difference.”

O’Malley, peppered with questions about the status of his campaign by reporters, spent considerable time speaking with voters and taking pictures with event attendees.

When one male New Hampshire voter told the former Maryland governor that he “should be VP,” O’Malley seemed to agree – “I’d love to be,” he said – before trailing off to another voter.

After his speech, O’Malley rejected the idea that his long-shot candidacy was aimed at becoming vice president.

O’Malley’s campaign said the candidate was actually responding to another voter’s comment that she was his second choice.

“I’m running for President of the United States,” O’Malley said when asked if he would accepted the vice president position, “and I intend to win, I intend to win.”