Analysis: Sanders struggles to gain edge in presidential bid

By Associated Press LISA LERER ,

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Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters in the media filing center after a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters in the media filing center after a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) (Photo: Michael Dwyer)

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) — 

The third Democratic presidential debate opened with an apology and ended with compliments.

For months, the Democratic primary contest has been a relatively civil affair - which party leaders believe offers a much-needed contrast with the raucous Republican field.

A day after a rancorous dispute over a breach of private campaign data by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign roiled the Democratic Party, a political truce between Hillary Clinton and Sanders largely held - even as Sanders' aides seemed itching for a more aggressive confrontation with the front-runner.

"I apologize to Secretary Clinton," said Sanders. "This is not the type of campaign that we run."

Clinton accepted his apology, instead, keeping her criticism carefully aimed at her GOP rivals - particularly businessman Donald Trump.

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