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Sanders, O'Malley slam GOP at individual events

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on October 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on October 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Republican candidates weren't the only ones sharing their views on the national stage Wednesday night. Democratic contenders Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley held separate events in Fairfax, Virginia, and Boulder, Colorado, respectively, where they shared their criticisms of the opposing party.

Democratic runner-up Bernie Sanders held a national town hall with college students at George Mason University, which began at the close of Wednesday's preliminary GOP debate.

Students across the country could tune in online and had the opportunity to tweet in questions using the hashtag #StudentsForBernie.

Sanders spoke at length about wealth redistribution and called for raising the federal minimum wage.

"When we talk about the economy, it is not only the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, it is another factor all of you are aware of, because many of you are experiencing it. And that is, that wages in America are just too damn low," Sanders said.

"We have a rigged economy," Sanders added in a live stream of the event. "We have got to change that economy and make it work for working families."

Sanders also touched on pay equity for female workers as well as gender equality across the board in his speech.

"A lot of Republican candidates talk about 'family values,'" Sanders continued. "What they are essentially saying is that no woman — none — in America should have the right to control her own body. What they are talking about when they talk about 'family values' is that none of our gay brothers and sisters should have the right to get married. I disagree with Republican 'family values.'"

Sanders slammed GOP 'family values' further by calling for three months of paid family and medical leave in his speech.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton chimed in on Twitter, joining Sanders in a call for discussion on equal pay and women's rights.

Clinton also stated in a tweet, "For people who claim to hate big government, Republicans love using it to try and make health care decisions for women."

Clinton took to Twitter throughout the duration of the GOP debate to express her support for tax breaks for the middle class.

In July, Clinton proposed a sharp increase in short-term capital gains taxes. This comes as part of her economic plan to combat what Clinton sees as an excessive focus on quick profits in capital markets.

Earlier this month, Clinton also proposed a tax on high-frequency trading, according to a Reuters report.

Prior to the preliminary GOP debate, Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley spoke at an event at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In an interview with CNBC, he criticized GOP hopefuls on their fiscal policy.

O'Malley said no Republican candidate has presented a viable economic plan thus far.

"In the Republican Party, there's actually a lot of room for a candidate to emerge, and instead of spewing hate and bashing immigrants and saying cruddy things about women — I think if a couple of these candidates actually offered the ideas that would make incomes go up and wages go up as a country ... I think they'd see a lot of Republicans in their own party rallying to them," he said.

O'Malley also spoke about gun reform and was joined by family members of the victims of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shootings.

"Our country works best when both parties are actually addressing the pressing issues facing our country. So far there had not been a direct question asked in the Republican debates about gun safety … we're not going to solve our problems if we're not going to talk about them and address them," O'Malley said, in an MSNBC interview that aired during the second half of the GOP debate Wednesday.

The former Maryland governor added, "After the slaughter of the innocent in Newtown, Connecticut, I made this a top priority of my administration, to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation."

This isn't the first time O'Malley tried to steal the GOP candidates' thunder. In August, NBC News reported that O'Malley held a press conference on immigration reform and bargaining rights for workers right outside the Trump-owned Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

—CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld contributed to this report.

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