Sunday Morning Democrats' Debate

Update: The transcript of the debate is available here. My final thoughts: Hillary and Richardson really did well today. Biden was better than usual. Edwards was good but failed to break out of the pack. Obama had little of substance to say and didn't seem to get much time. Kucinich and Gravel were...Kucinich and Gravel. Dodd was good.

Here's a video of Hillary saying Karl Rove isn't going to endorse her and seems obsessed with her.

Update: I'm watching after all.

8:00 Strange opening...GS introduces them by their poll ratings. Obama at 27%, Hillary and Edwards at 26%. First question: Is Barack Obama ready to be President and is Hillary electable?

Obama half of the queston goes to Hillary, who answers saying she's running on her own record. Dodd skirts as well. Then goes to Dodd.

They are all subdued. Probably because its so early in the morning. Biden really seems tired. He tries to skirt and then when confronted with him saying Obama wasn't ready in the past, says he stands by that statement. Richardson cracks a joke, saying with Obama you get change, with Hillary you get experience, with him you get both. He says Obama is a geat guy and a fresh voice.

Obama cracks a joke too. "To prepare for the debate I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair."

They've woken up.


Edwards is now defending Obama but in the end agrees with Hillary that they shouldn't be talking in terms of hypotheticals. Audience claps for his answer.

Now on to second half of the question, is Hillary electable? Goes to Obama: Doesn't answer. We're going to need someone who can break out of the pattern we've been divided into the past 20 years. That's him.

Edwards: Dems won in 2006 because they want change. If we maintain momentum of change, we will win. We can't sit down with lobbyists. Hillary has done a great job as First Lady and Senator. But she won't rid herself of lobbyist money.

Hillary: Karl Rove is never going to endorse me, he's obsessed with me. She touts her experience. We will win because we have a better plan. She's fought them her entire life. The distinction is artificial, it's the people who hire the lobbyists we need to be concerned about. She advocates public financing of campaigns. Audience claps.

Dodd comes out in support of public financing. Goes to Kucinich who changes topic to health care.

8:30 am. Moving it Iraq. Plays part of Biden's new tv ad. Richardson repeats our troops should be out by end of year. Hillary says she agrees more with Biden. Edwards: Would be hard to do it by December. The differences between them are minor, compared to difference with Republicans. All of the Democratic candidates will end the war. Gravel: Turn to Iran to help.

Richardson asks Biden and Hillary why they would leave residual troops? He says bring them all out so the residual troops don't end up being targets. Biden forcefully disagrees. He says we will have a minimum of 4,000 civilians there and we need military troops there.

Obama also agrees with Biden that we will have a presence there for a long time. He wishes those on the stage had asked that question before they authorized the war.

Worst question ever: Their views on personal G-d, in context of the bridge collapse and similar events? Goes to Hillary. Prayer is very important. Dodd agrees. Edwards: Agrees prayer is important but prayer can't stop bad things from happening. Gravel: We need more love between people.

Richardson: It's a personal thing. It's important to have faith, but if President, he won't wear it on his sleeve and impost it on anyone. Biden talks about the death of his wife and daughter. Answer: No. All the prayer in the world won't stop the hurricanes. It will give you the courage to deal with life's crosses.

Obama: We don't have the power to prevent hurricane but we do have the power to make sure the levees are properly enforced. We have to express our values to our government not just our religious institutions.

Kucinich: "George, I've been praying for the last 45 minutes you would call on me." Big audience laugh. As president, he will bring strong spiritual values to the White House.

8:50 am. Question from a farmer, what will they do to help small farmers who are in danger of being taken over by big corporations? The question gets changed (by an editor for the Des Moines Register who seems to be co-hosting with GS) to how do you protect jobs of American workers. Good for Hillary who brings it back to family farms. She says what she has done so far.

Obama: We have to cap the subsidies to farmers. Richardson: We need to promote conservation.

Commercial. ABC's pretends it's American Idol and asks viewers who is winning, to call in.

9:06 Reader question about whether the candidates have always told the truth about their positions. Edwards regrets his vote for the war in Iraq. Hillary says she also regrets her vote. Richardson: I'm making about a mistake a week. I'm not the scripted candidate. He makes a well-received pitch for reversing mistakes on torture, removing habeas, etc. Dodd agrees and gets a lot of applause.

Move to education, Richardson has another one point plan. The No Child Left Behind Act: Scrap it. Richardson is doing really well today. Kucinich will create a universal pre-K program by taking money from defense authorization. Applause.

The debate ends with Hillary thanking women who went before her and her mother.

"Well, when I was growing up I didn't think I would run for president, but I could not be standing here without the women's movement, without generations of women who broke down barriers, the civil rights movement that gave women and people of color the feeling that they were really part of the American dream."

You can watch that part here.


Original Post:

Here's one Democratic debate I won't be live-blogging: ABC's early Sunday morning debate from Iowa with George Stephanopoulos. It starts at 8:00 a.m. MT. Way too early for me.

If you're watching, let us know what you think.

Obama, by the way, is saying no to many of the upcoming debates.

"We simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates," writes Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a statement posted on the candidate's Web site Saturday morning.

....So from here on out, says Plouffe, Obama will only participate in the five remaining debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee -- two December debates in Iowa and a Sept. 9 debate in Miami to be aired on the Spanish-language channel Univision.

It does seem like there have been too many debates in too short a time period lately. We had You Tube, Yearly Kos, the AFL-CIO and the LGBT forum.

< On Experts: It's The Dishonesty, Stupid | The WMD Dodge >
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  • Display: Sort:
    I disagree with Obama on this... (none / 0) (#1)
    by jerry on Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 10:24:58 PM EST
    How many candidates will come through my neck of the woods at a time when I can see them?  Not many.

    I have actually liked the debates as it gives me a greater sense of the candidates as they work off each other.

    Could the debates be improved?  Sure.

    But I would like to see weekly discussions with the candidates in ways that move them off their prepared speeches.

    Which is one reason I like the youtube q&as.

    I don't blame him (none / 0) (#2)
    by Arlen on Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 11:00:58 PM EST
    I don't really blame Obama, or any of the other candidates who follow his decision not to do any more special interest (i.e. non DNC-sanctioned) debates or forums until January (in January the CBC debate happens, which he's already agreed to).

    Obama for example has personally participated in 18 forums, and 7 debates, and he'll be in a half dozen more that he's committed to before the end of the year. His time is probably better spent doing retail politics (hand shaking, soap boxing, etc) in the early states.

    It takes a good amount of time and money to prepare for these debates, and we're having more than ever before.

    Too many debates (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 12:45:40 AM EST
    There were quite a few debates and their numbers does seem rather high. Yet, some debates were different, gay issues, questions by audience, etc. Obama may have a point, but one cannot avoid thinking that his failure to outshine HRC is the real factor behind the decision. After all, either his team is way too green to have thought about it ahead of time or felt that some change of tactics may help reverse his recent decline in the polls.

    Huh. (none / 0) (#4)
    by s5 on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 12:55:37 AM EST
    unimpressed. He's passing up debates that many of us have found valuable, choosing instead to save his breath for Iowa and New Hampshire: the two states that already have a disproportionate influence on the election.

    Whether or not NH or Iowa have (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:20:24 AM EST
    too much influence, they are where the early contests are taking place. Do badly there, and you are out. My interpretation is Obama doesn't feel secure in those 2 states yet. HRC has the backing of Vilsack in Iowa (who's organization helped Kerry win there) and Edwards has been well organized in Iowa forever.

    However, this is immaterial to whether or not Obama should particpate in future debates. I thnk it will be a mistake not to, but I could be wrong. We shall see,

    Right now Chris Mathews is tyring to make the claim that because Obama doesn't know what a trailer hitch is, ordinary Americans won't vote for him or some such nonsense. I got up and left the room, so I could be wrong, but that seems to be where it is headed.


    Debating in front of tv cameras ad nauseum (none / 0) (#5)
    by bobinkc on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 08:59:05 AM EST
    may be some people's idea of how to run for president. But it can not be the only way. Nothing wrong with the Obama camp having the scheduling flexibility to do what they see fit to run.

    respectfully disagree ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Sailor on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 02:26:18 PM EST
    ... if it's honest debating and not a setup by the MSM, the more they say the more we learn about them.

    The problem with debates is that the questions are defined by the media, presented by the media and judged by the media.

    The original conception of 'town hall' was supposed to be that the PEOPLE in those areas defined the debate. But it's been corrupted:bush-townhall=staged event with only bush supporters (and paid for taxpayers.)

    Youttube townhall=youtube questions cherrypicked by MSM for entertainment value.

    Of course there's always the argument to be made that the best person at running for president is the last person that should hold that office.


    I am watching a repeat I guess (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:36:57 AM EST
    What an outrageous opening by Stepanapoulous.

    He really sucks.

    I propose (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:40:03 AM EST
    a boycott of Heorge Step as moderator

    Terrible debate.

    Actually I now endorse Obamas no debates position.


    Agreed, Big Tent (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:41:51 AM EST
    Glad you're here! GS thinks he's asking tough questions but it's silly because they are not questions the candidates will answer so they all end up just touting themselves.

    I loved Edwards' (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:56:49 AM EST
    answer, when George S. asked 'do you agree?' Edwards` A., George - 'On the issue I asked about?' Edwards - generic answer because George did not ask a specific question.

    Plans for Iraq (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:59:41 AM EST
    You know I think this technique of taking a candidfates statement previous to form a question is a good one EXCEPRT they choose the wrong candidate's statements.

    The3y are too generic and open. There are specific answers to specific questions they could use for this. Especiallty from previous debates. In essence, you could use this debate as followup to previous debates.

    Richardson getting better (none / 0) (#12)
    by not the senator on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 10:17:17 AM EST
    I thought Richardson did much better explaining the "no residual forces' argument this time than he has previously. I think he's realized that no matter how bright you are, just winging it in these debates is a bad idea.

    I thought he exposed Biden (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 10:31:39 AM EST
    as a pretty empty suit, which is my view of his partition plan.

    I think residual forces is VERY defensible, but Biden can't. HE does not understand why.


    Gravel is right (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 10:33:11 AM EST
    Dem candidates could follow public financing laws in the primaries. They choose not to.

    Howard Dean was the first to do this in 2003. And he got a free ride on it.

    Did Howard take institutional money? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 02:20:45 PM EST
    Or did he opt out to take small donations. I think Jerome has posted on Mydd the stats on that. You will find the average donation was pretty small. I am not sure Howard should be taken to task for that, given that the current system of public financing is broken and not just because Howard Dean opted out.

     It is a 2 edge sword. He got more individuals making small donations which I think helped revive the Democratic party's fortunes.  It provided cover for the Bush Rangers and Pioneers.

    But there is a difference between small donors like you and me and the big money shake downs by those Pioneers and Rangers.


    Dodd and Richardson (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 10:37:31 AM EST
    doing very well.

    Dodd ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by not the senator on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 10:42:16 AM EST
    Dodd continues to impress. I just wish he wasn't tied in so intimately with the banking/insurance interests. Maybe representing CT, he has no choice since they are such large employers in the state but it still makes me wary.

    Poor Karl Rove (none / 0) (#17)
    by BDB on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 01:46:01 PM EST
    I can't decide whether he attacks Hillary to strengthen her (thinking she'll be the weakest candidate) or weaken her.  What I have decided is that it's irrelevant since virtually every single person in the Democratic debates are so much better debators and candidates than the Republican frontrunners.  

    I keep telling myself that I shouldn't get over confident in next year's election results, but then I watch the respective candidates and how can I not?  Even the Democrats I think are nuts are less nuts than many of the Republicans.  Gravel makes every bit as much sense, if not more, on most issues as Guiliani.  

    How the MSM will cover over this basic fact - that the Republicans who have any chance of actually winning the nomination are either 1) crazy, 2) empty suits, or 3) both, is beyond me.  Although I'm sure they will.  Why discuss issues like sanity and competence when you can talk about cleavage, hair cuts, and whether a black man is black enough.  

    HRC's "experience" (none / 0) (#20)
    by diogenes on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 04:39:30 PM EST
    Obama won a seat in the Illinois legislature, introduced some bills, and finagled his way to the senate from Illinois.  HRC had unknown "experience" as first lady, her only known project being the failed health care system.  She then carpetbagged her way to a safe seat in New York and has been careful not to offend anyone if possible since.  What exactly has she done in the senate; is there a risky major bill (immigration reform, social security reform, etc) with her name on it as prime mover?  In terms of actually making hard decisions and using charisma to get people to support them, she is as green or greener than Obama.  And her innate personality is much more brittle.  There's a reason why Giuliani, despite the fiasco Bush war and GOP corruption, still matches her although both have equal name recognition.

    Experience (none / 0) (#22)
    by BDB on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 06:55:28 PM EST
    I've always thought the experience argument - that Hillary doesn't have any or that Obama doesn't have any - to the extent it means public or government service is silly.  They both have dedicated their lives to public service and they both should be commended for that.  

    Hillary Clinton wrote a series of seminal articles about family law and the rights of women and children in U.S. society, chaired the Legal Services Corp. (and saved it from Reagan cuts), headed up the Arkansas committee to reform education, served essentially as Bill Clinton's campaign director in his races for Governor and President (at least in 1992), and is in her second term in the U.S. Senate.  And that doesn't count her day-to-day advising of her husband and other work as First Lady of Arkansas or the United States, her stint as a law school professor, or her other pro bono work.  

    It is simply wrong to dismiss Hillary Clinton as just a First Lady or political wife, not that those women should be so easily dismissed either given the amount of influence - and political skills - many First Ladies have had.  I understand why the Obama people are frustrated with the experience argument, but I don't think going after Clinton's experience is the answer.  In fact, it always turns me off because it generally comes across to me as having sexist undertones.

    The top-tier Dem with the least government/public service experience is John Edwards and his credentials in this area are never questioned.  The cynic in me can't help but note that he is the white Southern guy.  Which is not to say that I don't think Edwards would make a good President.  All three top-tier Dems strike me as smart, capable people who would be vastly better than their Republican rivals.

    The place where I think there is an experience difference is in the political arena.  Edwards and Clinton both have participated in national campaigns and Obama has not.  That is the only experience issue with Obama that worries me.


    Iraq (none / 0) (#21)
    by Natal on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 05:32:32 PM EST
    Kucinich is the only candidate to have made the right call on Iraq at the start. The others made the wrong call. We can't afford to have such persons in the presidency who make such a blunder that has cost thousands of lives and untold suffering. You've got to get it right the first time.

    Kudos to Richardson for being blatantly honest about making political mistakes. The others except for Edwards side-stepped the question. Such dishonesty in responding is not what I want in a leader. Edwards at least admitted being in turmoil and conflict at the time he voted.

    Voting for Obama (none / 0) (#23)
    by OldPara on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 07:45:52 PM EST
    Plain & simple: As badly as I want to see the Republicans pushed out of the White House, I will not vote for Obama should he end up being the Democratic nominee.  His hip-shot responses to questions about what he would do or not do regarding the war, foreign affairs, the existing terrorist threat make it clear to me that he would be a "loose cannon."  I do not think he possesses the maturity, the judgement to serve as president. He reminds me of an impulsive, inexperienced teenager. If my choice is Obama or a Republican, I will hold my nose and vote for the latter.