Liveblogging The 9 PM EST Democratic Debate

by John Hawkins | February 26, 2008 8:58 pm

Later tonight, at 9 PM EST, I’ll be liveblogging the Democratic debate. If you’re going to be watching, make sure to head over to RWN, refresh to read the commentary, and feel free to write a few words in the comments section.

8:54: I am so not looking forward to this. Hillary and Barack’s debates are usually so deadly dull. Even if there are some juicy parts, they will be surrounded by lots of yawniness…

9:03: What? No posing for pictures for 10 minutes? CNN needs to explain to them how to run things.

9:03: Give ’em hell, Hill.

9:06: Hillary: I need to defend myself from Obama’s dirty attacks and point out the difference between the two of us. Course, that’s Hillary’s problem: there aren’t many differences between them and so people are going almost solely on charisma, where Obama has her beat.

9:06: Hillary’s people putting out that photo? Nooooooooooo! She would NEVER lie about such a thing.

9:07: Barack: Let’s get back into the weeds on the same minor difference between our health care plans that we have absolutely beaten into the ground over the last three debates. This is the equivalent of the old four corners strategy in college basketball. Waste time on something nobody cares much about so that Hill can’t take chunks out of Obama.

We haven’t whined about negative calls and emails…didn’t you just do that, Obama?

9:10: Hillary’s biggest problem in these debates? Believe it or not, she’s just not aggressive enough. Obama has so many enormous weaknesses and she just doesn’t have the chutzpa to hit them. Maybe that will change tonight.

Speaking of which, she said part of Obama’s plan could have been written by Republicans? That’s a lowblow for Democrats.

9:13: Barack, blah, blah, blah, socialized medicine wonk stuff. You know, despite all the rah-rah about his charisma, Obama IS NOT a good debater.

9:14: Obama is getting p.o.’d as Hillary slaps him around a little bit. He’s coming across as arrogant there, shaking his head, interrupting, getting a little flustered.

9:17: Hillary is just plowing through, trying to get the last word. Obama is still looking like a pretentious jerk who’s aggravated that someone DARE to interrupt him. Doesn’t she know he’s the Obamamessiah?

9:18: I love it! Hill is feisty tonight! Complaining about getting the first question. Talking about how the media is sucking up to Obama. She is making him look like a lightweight. She is also ripping NAFTA. Can’t agree.

9:21: Obama: she hasn’t always been against NAFTA. She used to support it. She has shifted positions on this. I was always against it — of course, Obama wasn’t in Congress then where he would have probably voted “present” any way on the issue.

9:23: Russert: Hillary, your husband pushed the bill. You talked it up. They got her there.

9:26: Russert has caught Hill in a lie, basically. You used to love NAFTA, now you don’t? What’s up? In six months, Hillary would be willing to opt out of NAFTA if they don’t change it.

9:27: Woah, Russert pointed out Obama hasn’t been completely honest about NAFTA. Is he allowed to do that? On TV? Obama, I’m not inconsistent! Yada, yada, free trade is bad because I think people will vote for me if I slag it.

9:30: Obama drops into Kennedyesque, tax and spend, class warfare. We need more government spending! Bush supports the rich! We need to give people jobs building windmills — oh, good grief. It’s like FDR’s job programs during the Depression.

9:31: Russert — You didn’t keep your pledge to New York to create 200,000 jobs. It didn’t happen. So, why should we believe you now when you promise all these new jobs? All this emphasis on government job programs building environmental wa-wa doesn’t make any sense. She’s making an argument that we need to create hundreds of thousands of permanent new government jobs putting in solar panels, etc. That’s ridiculous.

9:34: Obama, Hillary says you are incredibly inexperienced. Is that unfair? On the most important foreign policy decision we faced, I opposed it. I had great judgment. If he really had great judgment, would he have been photographed wearing that dopey Kenyan outfit?

The Pakistan thing is really, really thin, too.

9:37: Hillary — let me claim that I have experience by taking credit for things my husband did. Hill — where’s the difference between me and Obama on Iraq once we both had to vote? There isn’t one. Talk is cheap. Hillary: Obama shouldn’t have threatened to bomb Pakistan. He would meet with some of the worst dictators in the world.

9:41: Obama: My objections to Iraq weren’t just a speech. I was in a Senate campaign — ehr, against Alan Keyes. That’s not a real campaign. Hillary says she’s ready to lead on Day 1, but she agreed with him on Iraq. I thought she said he had terrible judgment? But, she agreed with him? Obama climbs down on bombing Pakistan. My claim is not simply based on a speech (But, it really is).

9:42: Russert: what if the Iraqis told you to leave? Would you leave? How dumb of a question is that? What does he think they’re going to say? “We can’t wait to get out, but if they do that, we’re going to stay on to spite them?” That is one of the dumbest questions asked in all the debates.

9:43: Obama — Of course we’d leave. We can’t wait to get out.

9:43: Hillary — Of course we’d leave. We can’t wait to get out.

9:44: Hypothetically, if it all blows up, would you re-invade? Did someone hit Tim Russert in the head with something heavy before he went on stage?

9:45: Hillary: That’s hypothetical. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Hillary: Obama hasn’t held one substantive hearing about Afghanistan. This guy is sitting on his hands.

9:46: Obama: Iraq is stopping us from doing more in Afghanistan. Complete bollocks. Hillary tried to talk; they cut her off for a break.

9:48: Commercial break — Both of them have gone after each other a bit, but I think Hillary has given Obama a pretty serious beating so far. They both come across as slippery and liberal, but it’s pretty clear that there’s only one man up there running for President and it ain’t Barack.

9:52: Cut to Hillary beating on Obama for being an empty suit. Cackle from Hill. I understand her point, that I have no substance. I spent 20 years working on behalf of people. That’s how I brought people together. I have accomplished things. I am proud of my track record. I passed an ethics reform law — like he was important to it. I know women who are having a hard time. Nobody has been listening to them. Bush and Cheney isn’t listening to them. I wouldn’t be running if I couldn’t do a lot for them.

9:56: Hillary: I was having a little fun in that clip, but talk doesn’t get it done. It takes a fighter. I want to get 55 billion back from the “special interests.” I will invest that money in the middle class. People are working harder than ever, but they are invisible to their government. (Oh wow, how I wish I was invisible to my government.)

9:59: They step on Obama complaining. Cut to a clip of him hammering her for taking credit for her husband’s presidency. She wants to take credit for all the good things that happened in Bill’s presidency and then tries to say she’s not responsible for the bad things. He’s got her there. Barack nails her, too, on saying she voted for a bill, but hoped it wouldn’t pass.

Commie slip: Exxon made 11 billion. They are not going to give up those profits easily. I bet they aren’t going to give up THEIR profits. Hillary takes millions from special interests.

10:02: Russert: Why won’t you keep your word about taking public financing if you’re the nominee? If I get the nomination, I will sit down with McCain and talk about it. Translation: I lied and I am kicking that can down the road. I wonder if Russert will let that slide?

10:04: No, he doesn’t: “You may break your word?” Obama dodges.

10:05: Russert: Hill, why won’t you release your tax return so people can see where you got your money and who’s bankrolling your campaign? Very good question. Hillary: Oh, the American people are funding me. I will release my returns, but not now. I have been as open as I can be (No, she hasn’t).

10:07: Tim: So before next Tuesday’s campaign? Hillary: No, I barely have time to sleep. Will you release records during the primary season? Hillary — yes, but not now. We’re trying to move faster.

10:08: Russert — Do you accept the endorsement of Farrakhan?

10:08: Obama — I didn’t solicit this support and I condemn his anti-Semitism.

10:09: Tim: He called Judaism a gutter religion…

10:09: Obama: I think what he said was reprehensible…

10:09: This is beautiful. Your mentor Jeremiah Wright loves Farrakhan. Does he hate Jews? So now what?

10:10: Dodge time. I get strong support from Jews. I wouldn’t tolerate anti-Semitism. I want to rebuild the relationship between the African-American community and the Jewish community. That coalition has frayed, but I want to put it back together.

10:13: Hillary: I stood up against anti-Semitism when I ran in New York. You asked if Obama would reject it. He needs to be stronger.

10:14: Obama: I don’t see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. But, if rejecting is better, I reject and denounce. Clapping.

10:15: We have another break. Early on, Hill was beating Barack pretty good, but he has closed the gap in the 2nd portion of the debate and scored some points on her, too. Russert, despite his incredibly stupid Iraq questions, has given them some pointed questions to answer. That’s more than can be said of most of the other Democratic debates.

10:19: Obama, you are more liberal than Ted Kenndy. How can you win against a moderate like McCain? Obama, these ratings are silly! These categories don’t make sense. Why am I attracting independents and Republicans? (Because you are giving people the false impression that you are moderate?) People don’t care about categories! I will beat McCain.

10:22: They hit Hillary with a gotcha question — maybe?. I think he was hoping she’d say, “Gee, I don’t know much about that guy.” It wasn’t a straight-up question about Russia. We need a better Russian strategy. It’s is a gotcha question — what is his name? She doesn’t know.

10:23: Oh, he doesn’t give Obama a gotcha question. You know about that guy, Barack? Lame! They’re protecting Obama.

10:25: We have an international structure that will deal with the Russkies. It would be a coalition.

10:26: Hillary, any vote you regret? The Iraq war vote. I voted for it, but I would have never gone to war had I been President. I am prepared for tough decisions.

10:27: Any statements of votes you’d like to take back, Obama? I wish I hadn’t allowed Congress to get involved in the Terri Schiavo situation. Translation: It’s less popular now, so I feel comfortable switching sides and hey, screw you pro-lifers.

Also, Hillary is going to lose, so let me say something nice about her and urge unity from her supporters when she loses.

10:30: What does Hillary have to do to prove her worthiness as a nominee, Barack? She would be fine. She’s no McCain, who’s essentially Bush. He is the same on economics and he wants to win the war in Iraq. The reason I think I am better than Hillary is because I can bring the whole country together because I am sooooooooo wonderful.

10:32: Hillary, Is there a fundamental question Obama has to answer for voters? Blah, blah, blah, I’d like to be the first woman President. It would give hope and challenge to the way things have been done across the world. The question I have been posing is who could change the country? I have more experience that gives a better understanding and insight into the changes we need to make. I think we need a fighter back in the White House.

Summary: I thought Hillary started really strongly, but Obama was a little better from the middle on. In the end, they were relatively closely matched, as per usual.

On the upside, they fought with each other a little more, which made it more exciting. Russert also hit them with some relatively tough questions at times, which is a change from the underhanded softballs both candidates, particularly Obama, usually get from the press.

Winner: Hillary Clinton, but probably not by enough to make a huge difference.

Loser: Barack Obama, who came across as tired, arrogant at points, and wasn’t quite as good as usual with Hillary actually trying to go after him.

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