U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens at the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee Thursday night. Reuters

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate stage in Milwaukee Thursday night after a tumultuous two weeks when Sanders performed better than many expected and sent a clear message to Clinton he is a force to be reckoned with. Sanders almost tied Clinton in the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1, and he comfortably defeated her in the New Hampshire primary election Tuesday.

Before the latest debate showdown was even scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EST, both campaigns had already started looking toward the next two nominating states, which are much more diverse places than the predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders’ campaign has been working to attract black voters, a demographic group that has historically been very supportive of Clinton, and to court the support of African-American political leaders as it looks toward the primary in South Carolina where black voters hold considerable sway.

Whether Sanders is able to gain significant support in that key voter demographic remains to be seen, but the outlook was not especially rosy for the senator ahead of the debate Thursday. The average of all Democratic presidential polling data put together by RealClearPolitics indicates Clinton leads Sanders nationally in support by 13.3 percentage points, 49.3 percent to 36.0 percent. In Nevada, where the Democratic caucuses will be conducted Feb. 20, the RCP average shows Clinton has an even bigger lead over Sanders: 19.5 percentage points. However, the polls there are not conducted frequently and have been known to be unreliable. And in South Carolina, where the Democratic primary will be held Feb. 27, the RCP average suggests she leads him by 29.5 percent.

You can find some of the highlights of the debate Thursday below as the two duked it out in their attempts to come out on top.

Clinton is seen here defending her appeal to women voters. She lost to Sanders among that demographic group in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.

Sanders and Clinton clashed over their plans for higher education. Sanders wants public universities to be free. Clinton wants to make college “debt free.”

Clinton is seen here talking about how hard the economy is for average Americans.

Clinton noted that this was the first debate in which women made up the majority of people onstage.

Sanders took a quick jab at Clinton here, reminding her she has a long road to travel before she becomes president.

Sanders made his first opening statement in a debate since he beat Clinton in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.

Clinton said she wants support not because she is a woman but because of her policies.

Sanders explained why his campaign decided against using super PACs.

How does Sanders feel about criminal justice reform? He hit that issue Thursday.