During the third Democratic debate, the first question to even be asked of candidates was about something that had taken place just the day before and not what issues have been plaguing the nation for months and years. A Bernie Sanders campaign staffer was caught viewing private information from the DNC voter database due to a firewall issue. The staffer, who was fired, saw information from Hillary Clinton's campaign. Though Sanders and the DNC reached a deal just before the debate, the topic had been on the minds of candidates and moderators alike even during the event's pre-coverage. Sanders responded by immediately apologizing for his former staffer's actions and vowing to fire any others who'd committed similar errors in judgment. Hillary Clinton's response to Datagate put the top two Democratic candidates back to being on good terms.
When asked whether she would accept Sanders' apology as well as how she felt about the controversy, Clinton said:
I very much appreciate that comment, Bernie. It really is important that we go forward on this. I know that you now have your data back and that there has been an agreement for an independent inquiry into what happened... Now that I think we've resolved the data and inquiry we should move on. I don't think the American people are interested in this. They are more interested in what we have to say about all the big issues facing us.
Clinton and Sanders have formed somewhat a united front during this debate, especially in the face of surprising verbal attacks from former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Following an instance in which O'Malley shirked the rules of the debate and called out the two candidates, both responded sternly. Sanders told his fellow candidate to "calm down" while Clinton simply wanted him to "tell the truth."
This isn't the first time the two have been more than cordial to each other on the debate stage. During the first Democratic debate, which took place in October at The Wynn in Las Vegas, it was Sanders who stood up for Clinton when the subject of her email scandal was brought up. The line "damn emails" became an iconic statement showing unity within the party as well as echoing Clinton's statements regarding the American people being more focused on issues of national security and foreign policy rather than issues within the party. Both candidates appear focused and friendly, willing to take on more hard-hitting questions and continue an already engaging debate.