21 Democratic Forum Quotes That Humanized The Candidates & Summarized Their Stances On Important Issues

The three remaining Democratic candidates were pushed to address tough questions at Friday night's MSNBC forum — and it's a good thing host Rachel Maddow didn't let them off easy, because what resulted was a bevy of memorable moments that could potentially sway the polls over the next few weeks. Before a buzzing crowd at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Maddow and candidates Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton bantered back and forth over policy reform, social justice issues, and the future of the party. The best part of the evening, however, was the expansive list of Democratic forum quotes that both humanized the candidates and served to summarize their respective stances on a number of important topics.

"As you well know, Rachel, the media drives me nuts," joked Sanders at one point, after the MSNBC host inquired about recent comments he made regarding Clinton's stances on a variety of issues (Sanders reportedly stated that he "disagree[d] with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything" during a meeting with The Boston Globe's editorial board on Thursday). "[But] I would not have run for president if I believed that establishment politics and establishment economics can solve the very real problems that we face."

The quip wasn't the only revealing moment at the Winthrop University forum. With no lifelines or teleprompters to support them, the three Democratic candidates still managed to roll out dozens of moving (and sometimes hilarious) comments, much to the delight of the audience.

Martin O'Malley

MSNBC on YouTube

On his political views: "I'm a lifelong Democrat. I'm not a former Independent, I'm not a former Republican. I believe in the party of Franklin Roosevelt, the party of John F. Kennedy. I believe we're all in this together and we can make a better future."

On green energy: "We're the party that actually believes in science. We rush to connect the dots, but it all points us in a straight line to hell. [...] We need to connect climate change to the opportunity for more jobs. ... Climate change [has offered us] a real opportunity [to create work for those that need it].

On the need to create jobs for the poor and working class: "For all the work that Obama has done, in a lot of our cities, there are pockets of people that are unemployed. This sort of growing injustice isn’t going to fix itself."

On how much of the Black Lives Matter agenda is feasible: "I think that almost all of [the Black Lives Matter] agenda can get done. Look, none of us has a crystal ball, none of us knows the pace of change and reform and progress. [...] But ... I've been on a constant search for things that actually work to save and redeem lives. [...] Given the legacy of racism and slavery, and the way that it has intertwined with public safety, with law enforcement, and particularly with drug policies in our country, all of us have a responsibility to be on a constant search for policies that actually work and actually serve."

On choosing between a cross-country high-speed rail or a manned mission to Mars: "I reject the premise of your question! I believe we can do both."

On the most impractical item of clothing he currently owns: "A kilt… and it was given to me."

On a proposed "war tax": "I do believe we need to do a much better job at telling people the [cost of war] … We shouldn't send [soldiers] into wars we’re not willing to pay for."

Bernie Sanders

MSNBC on YouTube

On which ridiculous questions he thought Maddow might ask him: "How many pairs of underwear do I have, is that one of them? Am I really Larry David?"

On what he would be if he weren't a politician: "President of CNN. And if I was president of CNN, trust me — the way media deals with politics would radically change."

On what he misses most from the pre-technology years: "Books. Paper books. I miss the fact that when I’m in the car or at home, there are not buzzers and noises going off, making me a nervous wreck. I miss peace and quiet, which I very much enjoy."

On whether he curses: "Not on this show!"

On voting rights for all: "What Democrats are trying to do is to make sure everybody in this country has a right to vote when they’re 18 years of age. Let me say something — it has never occurred to me as a candidate to figure out a way that I could deny the vote to people because they might vote against me. The people who do that are political cowards, they are afraid of a fair election. We have a real crisis in this country. What Republicans are doing is so un-American, so outrageous that it is literally beyond belief. They are political cowards. And if they can’t face a free election, they should get another job."

On the South largely voting Republican: "Why do you keep voting against your own best interest? Why are you voting for people who are going to deny you health care? Who are sending your jobs to China? That aren’t going to raise the minimum wage? We’ve got to work at getting white, working class people back into the Democratic Party to say that … the people [they] should be opposing are not gay people, they’re not immigrants — they are the billionaire class whose greed is destroying America."

On which Republican he'd bring into a Bernie Sanders Cabinet: "You want me to destroy some nice guy’s political career right now?"

Hillary Clinton

MSNBC on YouTube

On her connections to Wall Street: "[As a senator], I represented New York… but New York is more than Wall Street. ... Anybody who thinks they can influence what I do doesn't know me very well."

On the South Carolina high school student arrest: "What happened ... was appalling to me. Adults should be trained to use nonviolent, non-confrontational measures in dealing with school problems, discipline problems, whatever they might be. We have a lot of work to do. A lot of kids have a lot of problems... [but] we're not doing enough to support every child."

On the deaths of young black children and teens: "I think we all need to take a very big collective breath and ask ourselves, 'What is happening?' What is motivating the kind of violence we're seeing? It's particularly troubling when it's coming from positions of authority, whether it's from a school [security officer], a police officer — but that's not the only place it's happening. It's happening in our streets. This has to end."

On gun safety and police brutality: "People need to stop and think. I'm not saying it's never, ever required in law enforcement [to use deadly force]. I would never say that. But it doesn't need to be the first choice. It doesn't need to be the only tool that we give our law enforcement officers to deal with difficult situations."

On whether she's an introvert or extrovert: "I'm an intro-extrovert. I like meeting people… but I also like time alone to think and sleep and relax!"

On which Republican candidate she would choose as a running-mate: "There are Republicans I could pick… just none of [the ones in the GOP field]."

On what she thinks when she hears the word "hush-puppy": "I think [of] eating hush-puppies in my hush-puppies!"

Images: MSNBC screengrab