At CNN's town hall on Jan. 25, the Democratic presidential candidates took to the stage for the last time before the Iowa caucuses. Here's what the three candidates said to try to win over voters. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

DES MOINES -- The question came from a young man named Taylor -- a first time caucus-goer -- who said he leans toward supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Taylor noted that many of his friends are "passionate" supporters of Sanders, but they find Hillary Clinton to be "dishonest."

At the heart of the question is a problem that has dogged Clinton's candidacy: why do so many voters -- particularly young voters -- believe Sanders is a more authentic fighter for their causes.

Clinton was on her feet and before long, her voice raised, her arms waving with passion.

"I’ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age," Clinton told the questioner. "I have been fighting to give kids and women and the people who are left out and left behind the chance to make the most out of their own lives."

By that point, the crowd was cheering and applauding her answer.

"I've taken on the status quo time and time again!" Clinton said.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton participates in a town hall forum hosted by CNN at Drake University in Des Moines on Jan. 25, 2016. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Clinton's long career in public life has been both a blessing and a curse. They underscore her argument to voters that she has the most experience of any candidate in the Democratic race. But the long history of acrimony between Clinton and her political opponents underlie the uncertainty many voters have about her candidacy.

In her answer, Clinton sought to use the contentiousness of her political life as part as proof that she has been waging a long, hard fight for her causes.

"I’ve been around along time. People have thrown a lot of things at me. I can't keep up with it, I have to keep going forward," Clinton said. "They come up with these outlandish things; they make these charges and I just keep going forward because there’s nothing to it."

"They throw all this stuff at me and I’m still standing," Clinton said.