Liveblogging The Democratic Debate

by John Hawkins | January 31, 2008 8:00 pm

8:00 — Despite the fact that I have an ad for the debate at the top of RWN, I had blessedly forgotten that there was a Democratic debate tonight. Ugh…

8:03 — You know what I like? Change! Me, too! Know whom I don’t like? George Bush! Me, too. I really want to cut and run in Iraq. Me, too! I’m going to pretend not to be offended that you have attacked me because I’m black. I am going to pretend not to be a harpy who would have you killed for daring to challenge me if I could get away with it.

Wheeee! Should be a blast….

8:05 — There are no rules? Quick, someone get Ron Paul and Mike Gravel on the stage….

8:07 — How do we get past the divisions? Apparently, with substance-less rhetoric about the past and future, hope, and change…

8:08 — Now, we get pretend warm Hillary. “A war to end.” The economy doesn’t work for most people? Socialism! Socialism! Bush sucks! Socialism! We need a President who can on day one, who can solve our problems. If so, doesn’t that disqualify Hillary? There isn’t much evidence that’s her. We need to talk about problem solving. Barack believes in hope and change, whereas I believe in change and hope, so you can see that we have great differences!

8:14 — What differences do you two have? Hillary — freeze interest rates for 5 years and she’s for “realism and optimism” on foreign policy. Well, Ok. Barack has some minor difference with her on health care. Why, look at us! We’re not those awful white males; that means we’re not more of the same. That answer just emphasizes how similar they are.

8:18 — Let’s go into depth on the tiny difference between the socialized medicine plans Hillary and I support. I don’t support an interest rate freeze — well, that’s something at least. The Bush Administration caused poor people to get houses that were way too expensive for them. It’s predatory lending for people to give loans to poor people on houses that they know they can’t afford. I was opposed to Iraq from the start, whereas Hillary was against Iraq as soon as the polls went the other way.

8:19: Barack, here’s a question to explain what you just explained about your socialized medicine plan in even more detail. This wonky stuff never ends up having any impact on the debate at all.

8:24: Hillary: My socialized health care plan is better, cheaper, and easier. It mows your yard! It carries your children’s books home from school. It takes your dogs out for long walks.

This is such a wonky and dull debate so far.

8:25: The first Ted Kennedy mention. Barack will bring Republicans and Democrats together. I’ll grant you he could do it a heck of a lot better than Hillary, but how much can Republicans really cooperate with the agenda of the most liberal person in the Senate? For both sides to come together, it will take actual compromise, not just rhetoric.

8:31: Hillary, you were secretive in your health care plan. What say you to that! Hillary, I will dodge the question and attack the insurance industry because they hate people with diabetes and cancer. The health insurance agency is clever and very determined not to be looted by us. I know how to outsmart them and take their money!

This is the dullest 30 minutes of any debate so far in the entire presidential campaign.

8:31 — They’re going to call you tax and spend Democrats. How do you deal with that. John McCain is in favor of tax cuts. Back into the weeds. No real answer for that. My plan will conservatively save 100 to 150 billion a year. Lol. Does anyone believe that?

With taxes, it’s tax cuts for the rich! Same old thing as usual with the Democrats. I will go after the rich and the corporations while giving tax cuts to senior citizens and the middle class. We’ve got to help the teachers who have to buy their own school supplies. Gag.

8:34: Hillary, I will kill the Bush tax cuts. I will then save 50 billion on modernizing and efficiency. Since when does having an industry taken over by the government ever save anyone money? Ever? I would raise taxes on health insurance companies.

8:37 — If you let the Bush tax cuts expire, it will be a tax increase. Obama — only on the wealthy? Since when is say, the marriage penalty or the child tax credit something that helps only the wealthy?

8:39 — Immigration hurts African Americans and costs them jobs. What say you? Very true, by the way. Obama — It’s not immigration. There were problems before the immigrants. That’s scapegoating. Immigrants don’t cause problems for African Americans. Cough, cough, liar.

We have to control the borders. We do have to crack down on employers because they’re mean to illegals? Yeesh. That’s why we need a crackdown? We need a pathway to citizenship. The problem isn’t illegal immigration, it’s those tax cuts and not spending enough money for schools. He sounds really, really out of touch.

8:41: Hillary — because of employers who exploit workers, there are job losses. Wow, Hillary is more honest than Barack on this. Illegals steal construction jobs. Hillary, we need comprehensive immigration reform. In other words, she wants McCain-Kennedy, which even McCain says he won’t vote for now (I don’t believe him, but he says it). Hillary doesn’t believe in deporting people. Ok. Wait, she does believe in deporting illegals who commit crimes — besides being here illegally.

8:45: Barack: Let’s be honest, illegal immigration is a divisive issue. You think? Are the other candidates not pushing humane issues on immigration. Meaningless pap. Barack is dodging and weaving left and right rather than say something mean about Clinton. Drivers’ licenses are irrelevant because of comprehensive illegal immigration.

8:48: Wolf realizes how dull this is and tries to get some fighting going. Were you missing in action on illegal immigration, Hillary? No, I sponsored a bill on it before Barack was in the Senate. The Republicans are mean spirited on illegal immigration. You are undermining the values of America if you don’t want unlimited illegal immigration, apparently. Now Hillary is against drive’s’ licenses for illegals. She was for it before she was against it.

8:51: It took Hillary a long while to get to her drivers’ licenses position. She was for it, then against it. Now she’s clear. She wasn’t there. I oppose drivers’ licenses for illegals. Who is going to tackle this and solve it? Me or Hillary?

8:52: Hillary, I have to correct the record. You couldn’t answer a question about drivers’ licenses for illegals after my answer. Also true. Happened during a debate.

8:53: Wolf says that when they get back from the debate, they’re going to talk experience and character. That should be good for a laugh. Neither of them has any real experience and Hillary doesn’t have any character either.

8:57: A lot of Americans think Hillary is more experienced than you and ready to move forward on day 1. Obama, I am all about change — CHANGE — CH-CH-CH-ANGGGGGGGGGGE! Oh, and unity. Plus, I’m against special interests (Is there a more meaningless phrase in politics than “special interests?”)

8:59 — Wolf — what experience as First Lady qualifies you to be President? Hillary, I worked for the children’s legal defense fund. This reminds me of someone padding their resume with clubs they never attended to get a company to hire them. Hillary went to 82 countries. She claims to have negotiated deals with other countries. Do you believe her? She teamed up with Lindsey Graham to do something or another. Boy, that’s thin for someone who talks about how experienced she is all the time.

9:02: The country is a very large business. Neither of you has run a business. Hillary, the country isn’t a business, it’s a trust. That’s what Bush wanted to do, run the country as a business. Barack, Mitt hasn’t gotten a good return on his campaign.

9:03: Hillary, Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama. How do you respond to Kennedy endorsing Obama. Hillary — 3 of Robert Kennedy’s children support me! Hillary, I love change! The first woman President would be a big change! But, it’s about us, not Ted Kennedy. I am ready to go on day 1. I can fight the Republicans and win! Are we going to be once again proud of our country? So, Hillary isn’t proud of her country now? Not a big surprise.

9:07 — Barack, should Democrats be happy about the 8 years of the Clinton administration? Honestly, if you’re a liberal, you shouldn’t be too happy. Barack, I am bringing in new voters. I can call on the American people to reach higher. The turnout has been huge so far! Very true and very bad for Republicans.

9:10 — Hillary, how can you be an agent of change when we have had the same two families in the White House for 30 years? Hillary, judge me on my merits, not as a Clinton. Lol, what? She’d be a bad joke as a candidate if she wasn’t Bill’s wife. Wait, now she’s talking about the nineties. So she does want to be judged on her husband’s merits. It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and it will take another Clinton to clean up after the 2nd Bush.

9:16: Hillary, you haven’t offered a specific end date in Iraq. How do we know you won’t be there forever. I won’t. All troops should be out within a year. I yelled at the Pentagon last year because they hadn’t planned enough to lose. We need to get everybody out and we have to think about the American citizens. Also, what about the Iraqis who sided with us? We are going to leave them in the lurch, so we have to figure out what we do for them. It’s irresponsible for Bush not to have the whole thing wrapped up in a very neat little bow before he leaves office.

9:19: Obama. I will end the war. I will get everyone out. These two just can’t wait to lose this war. The sooner the country collapses and Al-Qaeda starts running wild, the better for Obama and Hillary. There is zero consideration or discussion of victory from either of them. Last guy who ran promising to lose a war was George McGovern. He was slaughtered. Just something to think about.

9:23: Hillary wants to send a message to the region as we withdraw. Is Hillary suggesting that having the surrounding region dragged into a giant regional war is a positive? I think she is. That’s just nutty. This whole nonsense about Bush binding the US in Iraq if they don’t want to be there is silly. Once he’s gone, I don’t care what he agrees to, it’s out of his hands.

9:26: Now, we’re back in the weeds. Hillary, why didn’t you vote for the Levin Amendment? I didn’t want to let the UN make a decision for us on Iraq. Does anyone believe Hillary when she thought that she wasn’t giving Bush the authority to go to war. McCain is accusing me of surrendering because I want to surrender in the first 60 days. Well, yeah. Hillary is saying she has the gravitas to be Commander-In-Chief? Compared to McCain? That’s a laugh.

9:28: Obama – the idea that Democrats don’t want to see progress in Iraq or don’t want this to end honorably is ridiculous. You can’t argue for leaving Iraq, despite what has happened and no matter what happens, and say that truthfully. Barack, it would be easier for me to debate McCain because I can say I was against it from the beginning. Really, I don’t think it will. It doesn’t matter who did what in 2003, it will matter who will do what in 2009.

9:31: Hillary gives the big, dopey grin. Hillary, why won’t you say your Iraq vote was a mistake? Well, I’m just not going to admit it. It really doesn’t make much sense. She clearly thinks it’s a mistake, given how she has explained it, so why not just say so? Must be some logic to it that she has that I can’t see. Bush was obsessed with going to war. Come on, everybody knew that Congress was voting on whether to go to war. I voted for the war in Iraq, but I would have never gone there had I been President. Wow, she’s a real weasel.

Hillary, we are as strong as the Republicans on national security, if we can show we can go after terrorists, then we can join the issues of the future. George Bush sent people to war without body armor. If so, it was only because Bill Clinton didn’t provide any.

Wolf, were you naive to trust George Bush, Hillary? Honest answer, yes. Answer, more dodging. Hillary is losing the debate now with this question.

9:37: Barack, of course it was a vote to go to war. Hillary says she has the experience on day 1, but she was wrong on day 1 about the Iraq war. Barack closed strong.

Oh geeze, I was hoping this was an hour and a half debate and was just running a little long. Apparently it’s two hours. Ugh, they should make the terrorists at Gitmo watch this crap. They would tell us everything they know just to make it stop.

9:41 Go to commercial break! The longer it lasts, the less of this dull debate we have to watch.

9:42: Obama, is there too much sex and violence coming out of Hollywood? If so, what will you do? I am concerned. I have kids. Primary responsibility is for parents. The internet is a problem, too. We have to invest in technologies and tools to empower parents. I do think it is important for people in the industry to show some responsibility about whom they market their goods to. I think that answer is fine.

9:44: Senator Clinton, your husband has set off several firestorms in the past few weeks. If your campaign can’t control Bill now, what will it be like when he’s in the White House? I am running for President and I want the campaign to stay focused on issues and me. The most insincere answer yet. My name is on the ballot, not Bill, but I will make decisions. It’s a choice between the two of us. But, I am sending Bill out everywhere on my behalf, claiming credit for his accomplishments, etc., etc. Ugh.

9:47: Would you consider a Clinton/Obama ticket? Barack, it’s premature to speculate about that. Barack courageously says he’d like to restore a sense of confidence in what’s possible in government. He’s a living, breathing Hallmark card. He’s an inch deep. We need to have people think government is on their side. Hillary would be on anybody’s short list.

9:49: I agree with what Barack said. It has been intense. We will have a unified Democratic Party. We will go into the November elections prepared to win. Hill promotes her website. No answer to question.

That’s it.

Summary: This was an incredibly dull debate. The first 30 minutes, especially, were like a wonky debate between two people in a think tank. It was just painful to sit through.

Early on, Hillary was winning, in part because it was so dull and because she scored some points on Barack over the immigration issue.

But, Hill choked on her Iraq war question and she was incredibly insincere about her husband while Barack picked up the pace at the end.


Winner, Barack Obama. Loser, Hillary Clinton. However, it was probably not a huge difference maker of a debate, although I could see the last 25 minutes of the debate swinging a few people towards Obama.

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Liveblogging The Democratic Debate

by John Hawkins | December 13, 2007 2:00 pm

Today at 2 PM EST, I will be liveblogging the Democratic debate. It will be interesting to see if they put the Dems in that same tight format and have the same moderator that almost everyone seemed to hate.

2:00: Here we go. Same moderator.

2:01: No gravel. No Kucinich, by the way.

2:02: I note that she didn’t tell them that they weren’t talking about the war and immigration.

2:03: Ha! Obama’s ratings basically went right off the charts and he really didn’t say much of anything. Completely off the charts when he said end the war.

2:05: Richardson is actually giving real substance on the issue and his ratings are so-so.

2:06: Biden — slash the military, raise taxes, surrender in Iraq and we can spend lots of money AND balance the budget. Does anyone believe this?

2:07: Dodd. We need to grow the economy. True, but…

2:08: Edwards — we need to take on corporate power and greed! Edwards off the charts.

2:08: Hillary: When my husband was in, the budget was balanced. Flat line.

2:10: Great question that she won’t get an answer to: what programs are you willing to tax more for?

2:11: John Edwards — the rich and the corporations are screwing you! Off the charts (This is on Fox, by the way).

2:12: Hillary. Everyone is standing on a trap door that they might fall through! Because life is so horrible in America! Blah, blah, blah, what we did in the nineties — Hillary is now essentially taking credit for her husband’s entire presidency.

2:13: Joe Biden. Republicans have deliberately built up the deficit. We need to pay for it by slashing defense in a time of war.

2:14: Obama: Tax relief plans for people making less than $75,000 in the name of “fairness”. Sounds good, but the reality is that percentage wise, people in the middle class are already not paying very much. How much more can you cut their taxes at this point?

2:15: Richardson, build the military.

2:16: I fell asleep while Dodd was talking because he was so boring. Not sure what he said.

2:18: Richardson. Ban chinese toys and contaminated food. Fix trades issues. They can’t continue playing currency games. Can’t disagree with his main points.

2:19: The Democrats and Republicans are coming together on China and trade issues.

2:20: Chris Dodd: Good answer on China?

2:21: The Glacier. We need more government in health care to save money! Since when has government intervention ever made anything cheaper?

2:21: Joe Biden: We’ve got to lift the cap on Social Security — translation — I want the biggest tax hike in history.

2:22: These guys really get fluffy when you talk about spending cuts. Prevention. Modernization. More efficiency.

2:22: Obama. People need to become less unhealthy and then our costs will go down.

2:23: Richardson — health care is a right.

2:24: Barrack Obama statement: Emphasizing change — stick it to the special interests (except our special interests)

2:25: Edwards: what makes America America is at risk. The corporations are sticking it to you. Good grief. Edwards. We have to leave America better than we left it. Heh.

2:26: Joe Biden: We shouldn’t trade with people who don’t great human rights and environmental concerns.

2:27: Bill Richardson. International core labor standards for trade. They must have collective bargaining and wages that are comparable. If they actually believed all this stuff, they would put an end to 75% of the trade we do in this country.

2:28: Chris Dodd: Human rights and security are the same interest. Really, no they’re not.

2:29: John Edwards — human rights should be central to our trade policy. Really? Really?

2:30: Hillary — I want to change NAFTA, not end it. I want to review every trade agreement. I can’t disagree with at least that part of it. We don’t want to be the trade patsies of the world. I liked that line.

2:31: Obama: NAFTA needs to be amended. I will contact Mexico and make sure they have human rights. Gitmo makes trade harder. That’s sort of kooky, but they seem to be eating that up.

2:32: Dodd — I just passed a bill on Darfur!

2:33: Oh….Joe Biden mentioned his church and his ratings plunged. Liberals hate religion.

2:34: Richardson. We need to talk more about Iraq. It’s hard, we need to quit. Do any of these guys ever — ever talk about victory.

2:35: Moderator — your energy plans cost a lot.

2:35: Joe Biden: we have to make this a moral crisis and people have to sacrifice, but it will essentially be painless.

2:36: Bill Richardson wants 50 MPG cars. Say bye bye to SUVs, Big trucks, Vans, etc if he ever got that through. I will ask the American people to sacrifice to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

2:37: Chris Dodd — I want a corporate carbon tax so we can make carbon much more expensive. Higher energy prices — that’s a selling point.

2:38: Hillary — cap and trade plan. Ugh.

2:39: The Democrats will tell you how lousy everything is and then they will then tell you we need massive new tax increases, enormous government plans, and deliberate increases in energy costs.

2:40: Obama — wind turbines? Please. Also, we need to pay more for energy. All of these guys want to raise the costs people pay for energy. Funny line about the auto makers.

2:41: Edwards — we need to ask Americans to be patriotic about moving the country off carbon based fuels. That’s phony patriotism. Even Democrats don’t believe that crap.

2:42: Hillary — we want to raise our hands! That’s kind of pathetic.

2:44: Agriculture subsidies question that none of these guys even bothered to vote for. A better question would be why didn’t you vote.

2:44: Dodd blathered on.

2:44: Obama is scary because he says things that have almost no substance to them and his ratings go off the charts with Democrats.

2:45: Joe Biden — how do we preserve family farmers — ehr, we don’t?

2:47: I am about to nod off listening to this farm bill crap. Sooooooooooo dull. Hillary is saying something inane about how much she loves farmers.

2:48: The Luntz thing is fun here because it lets you see that the Democratic voters don’t really like Hillary that much. They obviously react much more strongly to Obama than Hillary.

2:49: This is a painful debate, by the way.

2:49: Dodd said something. I wasn’t paying super close attention.

2:50: Edwards off the charts on get rid of No Child Left Behind, which Ted Kennedy helped write. It’s funny, they got massive spending increases in return for testing basically. They have the spending and surprise, they don’t want the testing anymore.

2:51: Bill Richardson — $40,000 teachers minimum wage. Completely off charts. It’s also a completely insane policy that would be extremely expensive.

2:53: These guys are all so scary because their answer to every problem is massive tax increase & massive new government programs.

2:54: Parents have to tell their kids to turn off the TV sets and video games. The Luntz polls say the voters are eating it up. Wow. He could read his grocery list up there and they’d love him.

2:55: Chris Dodd. I will talk about education every single day as President. Sure you would Chris.

2:55: Hillary mentioned Bill again and talked about how they were focused on education. Again, she is essentially taking credit for his time in office. Bizarre.

2:56: Edwards said something or another.

2:57: I love education so much I married a teacher. Biden — we need to spend much more on education.

2:58: Obama, in my first year, I will tell the generals their mission is to win the war. I will reverse some of Bush’s executive orers.

2:59: Biden — I will end the war! We are abandoning dealing with imprisoned terrorists? Basically. Health care. Education.

3:00: Bill Richardson — I will have all troops out within a year (the surge hasn’t impacted their thinking in any way, shape, or form). I will follow constitution.

3:01: A moment of laughter as they note Joe went over the moderators time limits.

3:01: I have trouble paying attention to what Chris Dodd says for a whole minute at a time because he’s so dull.

3:02: Edwards, laundry list of things he would do. We got to fight the most wealthy people, corporations running things and we have to take the country back.

3:03: Hillary on what she would do in her first year of President: probably the best answer she gave tonight.

3:04: Hillary — can you insure that people that you would be open as President? I want an open and transparent government. Put it all on the net. I will give Congress anything they want when they ask for testimony! Does anybody believe this?

3:06: Joe Biden — you sound like a racist. How do you respond. Wow. Hillary got a softball compared to that. Joe isn’t doing much to help himself on this answer.

3:07: Obama — he is not a racist. Ha! Ironic. Obama is getting more out of this answer than Biden. Obama came off well there.

3:08: Edwards got a really soft question. You’ve slammed special interests, so how will you work with them. Poor Biden gets the racism question and he gets this underhanded softball.

3:09: Chris Dodd — Your father was a dirtbag. How much does that motivate you to do the right thing. Oh geeze. The 2nd tier guys are getting really unfair questions. Dodd did well with it.

3:10: Bill Richardson — Your carelessness is responsible for Wen Ho Lee! Richardson says something funny there…sort of.

3:13: Wow, bizarre question — and Barack says he looks forward to Hillary advising him as well. Funniest moment of the debate. Also again, it is amazing to watch the Luntz graph when Obama talks. He says nothing of signicance and his numbers go through the roof. Amazing.

3:15: Hillary, Bush is a jerk! High ratings.

3:16: Edwards. Bush is a jerk! George Bush is not king! These guys are like Pavlov’s dogs. Attack Bush and they love it.

3:16: What is your New Year’s Resolution. Hillary was really flat. Off script I guess.

3:17: Edwards — Two Americas theme on the New Year’s Resolution question. He came across as sincere there. Of course, he’s not. But, you can see how he scammed so much money out of those companies in the court cases.

3:18: Dodd made a funny.

3:19: Bill humanizes himself, wants to lose weight.

3:20: Joe Biden — Remember where you came from.

3:20: Obama reminds himself to make a real difference. Came across generally well.

3:21: Hillary — I have eaten my way across the state. That was funny in a laughing at you, not a laughing with you sort of way.

3:22: John says the people want someone honest and sincere. Which, if you think about it, would rule Edwards out.

3:22: Dodd was flat, as per usual.

3:23: Bill Richardson — you like underdogs. I love people from Iowa.

3:23: Joe Biden. I love people from Iowa, too!

3:23: Obama. I appreciate the core decency of the American people!

Summary: This was, as many Democratic debates tend to be, excruciatingly dull. If people hated the GOP debate yesterday, I would figure they’ll hate this one, too. Plus, they really skipped a lot of the key issues.

How the candidates did from last to first,


Chris Dodd: Incredibly dull.
Joe Biden: Didn’t come off well tonight without a lot of foreign policy talk.


Bill Richardson: Probably didn’t help himself much.
Hillary Clinton: Seemed a little flat.
John Edwards: Showed a little fire, hit the same primary themes he always does.


Barack Obama: He came across really well and had the best moment of the debate when he told Hillary that she could advise him. I thought he won by a lot.

Update: The best moment of the debate. Obama turns the tables on Hillary.

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