CHARLESTON, S.C. — Rival Democratic candidates moved urgently to blunt Bernie Sanders’ momentum Tuesday, charging in a crucial debate here that he is misleading voters about the cost of his ambitious agenda and warning that his nomination would cost Democrats not just the White House, but down-ballot races across the country.
The attacks were relentless and reflected the growing sense of panic among moderate Democrats since the decisive Sanders win in Nevada on Saturday, and his rise in national polls. The self-declared democratic socialist from Vermont threatens to build a lead toward the nomination that could become insurmountable.
Sanders was called out for his complimentary words about the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and sympathies with other communists. He was branded a tool of the National Rifle Association. He was charged with selling voters a fantasy of free health care and free college with no chance of getting congressional buy-in.