Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE clashed in the opening minutes of Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Las Vegas over the Vermont Independent senator’s politics.

Sanders defended his democratic socialism, while Clinton said that she liked the country of Denmark but didn’t think the United States should follow in its footsteps.

“I think what Sen. Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in terms of the inequality that we have, but we are not Denmark,” Clinton said.

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“I love Denmark, we are the United States of America and it is our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amuck and cause the kinds of inequities that we are seeing in our economic system, but we would be making a grave mistake to turn on what made the greatest middle class.”

Sanders began the back-and-forth by brushing off the question of whether his politics would be a problem in the general election.

“We are going to win because we are going to explain what democratic socialism is,” the Independent senator from Vermont said.

“What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong to say that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent,” said Sanders.

When asked by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper whether he identifies as a capitalist, he hedged.

“Do I consider myself a part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little?” he asked. “No I don't, I believe in a society where all people do well, not just a handful of millionaires.”

Sanders also called for America to look toward countries like Denmark and Sweden that have larger social safety nets for their citizens. 

Clinton then responded with a gentle jab, noting that small and medium businesses have grown in America because of capitalism.