U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley waves after speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner in Clear Lake, Ia., Aug. 14, 2015. 
Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

Democrats tee off on Trump

Updated

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – All three Democratic presidential candidates teed off on Donald Trump here at a party event Sunday night – with one invoking “fascism” – and called for action in the wake of Friday’s attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

While many of their GOP counterparts hesitated to discuss publicly the abortion clinic shooting in Colorado Springs, the Democratic field used the massacre to call for new gun laws and stronger protection of women’s health while campaigning here.

“On Friday there was another mass shooting,” front-runner Hillary Clinton lamented as she spoke to hundreds in a hotel ballroom at the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner ahead of the state’s critical February 9 contest. “How many more Americans need to die before we take action?”

“We should be supporting Planned Parenthood, not attacking it,” she added. 

RELATED: Republican candidates tread lightly on shooting

After mentioning Trump’s name in another context, Clinton referred to his recent apparent support for a database of Muslim Americans. “That’s not who we are and besides, that is not smart law enforcement techniques,” she said. “We cannot give into the fear mongers who say we are at war with Islam.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders deviated from his stump speech to take a moment to discuss the shooting. “I am running for president because in these difficult times against vitriolic Republican rhetoric, we must protect a woman’s right to choose,” Sanders said before leaning into his mic to finish the thought, “and we must defend Planned Parenthood.” 

But it was underdog Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, who had the strongest words on both topics.

O’Malley called the abortion clinic shooting “the latest act of domestic terrorism,” linking it with shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and other massacres.

And on Trump, O’Malley dropped the f-bomb: “fascism.”

“Well Donald Trump, when you start your registry of Americans who oppose your backward ideas, you can start with me,” O’Malley said to applause. He continued the refrain for fascistic plans a president Trump might allegedly have.

Asked by MSNBC after his remarks if he was calling Trump a fascist, O’Malley would not quite go there. “I don’t know that he knows that the appeals that he’s making, the sort of toxic mix of opportunism with public panic are the same sort of appeals that have proceeded fascists and fascism in the past, and I think we all have a responsibility to call it out,” he said. “When he pushes things like registries and ID cards based on religion, I do believe that is the sort of appeal that historically has often proceeded fascism.”

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley

Democrats tee off on Trump

Updated