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Democrats maintain respectful campaign as polls tighten

Bernie Sanders appears to be closing the gap with Hillary Clinton, but the two remain focused on advocating policies rather than opposing each other. 

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    Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) of Vermont and presidential candidate for 2016 speaks at the Monitor Breakfast on June 11, 2015. Sanders has maintained a clean campaign, and has yet to openly oppose Hillary Clinton.
    Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor/File
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The Democratic party may well have a new campaign style underway: mutual respect.

While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by nine points in New Hampshire polls, Ms. Clinton has eleven points over Mr. Sanders in Iowa – a lead has tightened since July, when she was 24 points ahead of Sanders, a new NBC News/Marist poll reports. (View the full poll results for Iowa and New Hampshire.)

Despite Sanders and Clinton’s tightening race, the two are focused on advocating their political agendas rather than tearing each other apart, a welcome respite from the Republican field.

"I know the media would like me to attack Hillary Clinton and say all kinds of terrible things and tell the world that I’m the greatest candidate in the history of the world," said Sanders in an interview with the Washington Post. "Nobody believes that stuff."

At a recent rally, Clinton reiterated her promise to stick to what matters, saying, "Other candidates may be out there hurling insults at everyone, talking about what’s wrong with America and who’s to blame for it, but I’m going to keep doing that I’ve always done: fight for you and fight for your families."

Some of Clinton’s key policy proposals include reducing student loan debt, prioritizing family-friendly issues, such as tax relief for working families and providing quality child care, and “cutting the red tape” when it comes to small businesses, as her official campaign website details.

According to the Washington Post, “Sanders regularly highlights policy areas where they [he and Clinton] differ,” though he hasn’t directly opposed her by name. Clinton has not taken a position on two of Sanders's key issues: re-instituting Glass-Steagall and blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline. In addition, Sanders has mentioned a desire to reverse some of the trade policies that then-Secretary of State Clinton had a hand in, and he has discussed demilitarizing American police forces "so they don’t look and act like invading armies," states his campaign site.

"It's not personal," said Sanders to NBC, shrugging off questions about Clinton and rumored newcomer to the race Vice President Joe Biden. "What the American people want to know is how we reverse the decline of the middle class, how we address poverty, why we're the only major country on Earth that doesn't have a family and medical leave policy, and those are the issues that I'm going to stay on."

Recommended: Beyond Hillary Clinton: 7 other Democrats possibly (or definitely) running for president

For now, voters can enjoy the respectful tone of the Democratic campaign, but come October 13 – the date of the first primary debate – the candidates may have to lay out their differences more overtly.

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