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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders pose together onstage at the start of the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michi. on March 6, 2016.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders pose together onstage at the start of the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michi. on March 6, 2016.  Carlos Barria—Reuters

Clinton and Sanders Throw Shade at the Last Republican Debate

Updated: Mar 06, 2016 10:16 PM ET

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may have been battling for the Democratic nomination Sunday night, but they made sure the audience remembered who the real fight is against: the Republicans.

"I just want to make one point," former Secretary of State Clinton said near the end of the debate. "We have our differences, and we get into vigorious debate about issues. But compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week." (Last week, among other things, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump defended the size of his penis.)

Vermont Sen. Sanders agreed with Clinton, cracking a policy joke: "We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money in mental health," he said. "And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in mental health." Both Clinton and Sanders laughed along to cheers from the audience.

Clinton then elaborated more specifically on the prospect of facing Trump in a general election. "I think that Donald Trump's bigotry, his bullying, his bluster, are not going to wear well on the American people," she said. "So I will look forward to engaging him, because I don't think we need to make America great again. America didn't stop being great. We have to make it whole again."

And she previewed her strategy for dealing with the personal attacks she may face in the general, especially given the escalating insult comedy strategy of the Republican primary. "I don't intend to get in the gutter with whoever they nominate," Clinton said. "But instead to life our sights, to set big goals, to make it clear that America's best days can be and are ahead of us."

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