COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 13 (UPI) -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders used Sunday night's CNN town hall event to shift their fire toward Republican front-runner Donald Trump, accusing him of fanning the flames of violence at his rallies in recent days.
Former Secretary of State Clinton called Trump "bigoted" and described him as a man who was committing "political arson." Vermont Sen. Sanders declared Trump a "pathological liar" at the event.
"It is clear that Donald Trump is running a very cynical campaign pitting groups of Americans against one another," Clinton said to the audience assembled at Ohio State University. "He is trafficking in hate and fear."
"You don't make America great by tearing down everything that made America great," she added, repeating a line she has been recently using on the campaign trail.
Sanders slammed Trump for saying he would pay the legal bills for the man charged with assault for punching a black protester during a recent campaign rally, saying the statement was essentially "inciting violence."
"I would hope Mr. Trump tones it down big time and tells his supporters that violence is not acceptable in the American political process," Sanders said.
The event was the last chance the candidates would get to reach a large audience before Tuesday's primaries across Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois and especially Ohio and Florida, which will likely be critical in the hunt for delegates.
Other key moments included Clinton's response to a man from the audience who had spent 39 years in prison before being vindicated and released and who asked her about the death penalty.
She said she would be relieved if the states or the Supreme Court began peeling back support of the death penalty, but said she was still in support of "very limited use" of capital punishment for extreme cases like Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Later, Sanders ended up slamming Trump when he was trying to attack Clinton on supporting trade deals that he said were designed to send jobs to Mexico and China.
As he tried to defend himself from being accused of protectionism, he told the audience: "Nobody is talking about building a wall around the United States," Sanders said as the audience quickly caught the slip. "Oh, I beg your pardon, there is one guy who is talking about building a wall. Let me rephrase it: No rational person is talking about building a wall."
Also on trade, Clinton was asked by about the alleged dumping of foreign-made steel in U.S. markets.
"I believe that the dumping is illegal and we have to summon up the political and the legal arguments to take it on," Clinton said, putting specific blame on China for the practice.
The son of immigrants from India asked her about why she would be better to take on Trump in the fall and Clinton cited a wider base of support from voters, the endorsement of foreign leaders and because of her "thick skin" as the target of regular GOP attacks for 25 years.
"I am not new to the national arena and I think whoever goes up against Donald Trump better be ready," Clinton said.
Even as the Democratic candidates were able to feed on Republican Party in-fighting, they both face nail biting contests on Tuesday. After Clinton's upset loss to Sanders in Michigan last week -- despite holding big leads in polls just days before -- each candidate is likely viewing Tuesday's contests, especially Ohio, as too close to call.