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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dems Debate in PA - Live Blogging

It is probably appropriate that Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is the location of the debate tonight. Let's see if either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama will make substantive points tonight with the voters and if they can also avoid any major mishaps. Having watched all the preceeding 20 debates, it was clear that Obama became more comfortable with each debate so Clinton has her work cut out for her.

Surprisingly in Pennsylvania, Obama has taken the lead 45% - 42% over Clinton in a poll released from Public Policy Polling with data gathered from 4-14 to 4-15. However, the recent polls have been all over the place including Rasmussen dated 4-14 showing Clinton 50% - Obama 41%, and Survey USA dated from 4-12 to 4-14 showing Clinton 54% and Obama 40%. To read more on these polls click here.

Realize, these polls are showing 6% to 13% of the voters are still undecided. If Clinton can sway the undecideds with a good debate tonight, she could win Pennsylvania's primary next Tuesday by double digits and give her campaign a boost.

On the other hand, a solid performance by Obama could result in undecideds swinging his way leading to a narrow victory in Pennsylvania. This would almost certainly bring the Clinton campaign to a halt.

Both candidates had a brief opening statement. Obama, perhaps in a preemptive move, said he was struck by the kindness of the PA voters and also by their frustration - he wants to bring about change and hope. Clinton did very well talking about voters concern with government, wove in health care, education, and restoring our moral standing in the world.

First question - would you pledge to put the other on your ticket - lame and overused question. Obama - premature to answer this. Clinton - she will do whatever she can to make sure one of them becomes President - party needs to come together when the candidate is decided.

Geez, second question - to Obama the "bitter" question How predictable these questions have been. I had hoped for better from the hosts. Obama struggled a little with his answer but ok. Clinton spoke about how she did not believe people cling to their traditions when they are frustrated with our government and can see how they would be offended by these remarks.

George S. - to Clinton- can Obama beat McCain? She side stepped and said the dems will win the election - george S. asked the question again and she said yes Obama could win - she believes she is the better and stronger candidate. Obama gave basically the same answer - almost reminds me of a SNL skit the other night. Clinton stayed on this statement made by Obama.

Gibson - brings up the Pastor Wright speeches, another predictable question - asked about Obama's rescinding invite to wright to his announcement of his campaign for president. I'm still waiting for a substantive question to the candidates. I guess the next question will be about Clinton statements about sniper fire in a visit to Bosnia. Obama handles it well, Clinton tries to hammer Obama on his pastor and says she would not have stayed in his church.

George S. - does reverend wright love America as much as you? what kind of question is this? These questioners are really pathetic - 30 minutes now gone and it has been all soap opera type stuff. Clinton brings up Lewis Farahakan and his relationship with Obama.

George S. - yep here is the sniper fire question to Clinton - he adds today's poll showing 54% do not trust her - she says it was a mistake what she said about Bosnia and she is sorry for it. To Obama - his emails his campaign has sent questioning her credibility. Obama answer, we are both working hard and we have both made errors. Obama brings it back to the economy, wars, health care - we should not be obsessed with these types of issues - yes!

Gibson - electability. to Obama why do you not wear an American flag pin. another soap question - halfway through the debate and not one question pertaining to the issues Americans are facing today - ABC should be embarrassed!

George S. follow up to Obama - question about an old weatherman who was arrested years ago(anti-gov't and some members were responsible for setting bombs) who Obama did know - Obama says to him what I was just saying this whole line of questioning is ridiculous. Clinton - brings up the weatherman (Ayers?) and said Obama served on a board with him. She then talks about how she has been vetted and would therefor make a better candidate against McCain. Obama responds with how President Clinton commuted the sentence and pardoned two weathermen underground members when he was in office. Again, this is as bad as it gets for debate questions to a candidate for President.

Finally a break for a commercial! Back - Finally the first substantive issue question by Gibson after 55 minutes - question to Clinton will Clinton stick to her statement about scheduled withdraw from Iraq. Clinton- thankfully, we have civilian control over the military and will ask her chief of staff to put together a plan to begin immediate withdraw from Iraq. Gibson trying to bait Clinton do you know better than out military commanders? Her first answer handled this well and she is right the U.S. military should not dictate policy. Obama - another good answer=the commander in chief sets the mission - the general and troops carry out the mission - that is why Bush's reliance on policy by the military is misguided. The buck stops with the President - the current policy is encouraging anti-American sentiment.

George S. attack on Israel by Iran - how would you handle it? Obama-Israel is our strongest ally in the region. Clinton - we can not permit Iran to become a nuclear power in the region and we need assistance from the region for diplomatic solutions.

George S. - Tax Increases McCain says the Dems will bring if elected. She would not have any middle class tax increases. Obama would cut middle class income tax. Gibson - Obama - you would increase capital gains tax? He said he would look at raising capital gains tax to be fair and that we should invest in health care, education, and infrastructure for our children. Clinton - we need an economy that works for everyone. Talked about a energy fund needed and infrastructure that could also put many back to work. Need to freeze foreclosures, taxes are a piece of the economy. Clinton would not raise capital gains above 20%. against Obama's proposal to raise payroll tax - Obama - proposed to raise the cap on payroll tax which is presently 97,000. This discussion has to do with saving social security and needs to be discussed as such and not a discussion just on raising taxes. Clinton would put together a bi-partisan commission. Obama - that commission raised the retirement age and raised the payroll tax.

Gibson - one year anniversary of the tragedy of Va. Tech. On the issue of guns where do you stand. Clinton - was with Mayor Nutter of Philly and has said she would reinstate the assault weapons ban and bring back the neighborhood cops program, also give local law enforcement the same federal database on guns. She respects lawful gun owners and will strike the right balance in the right to bear arms. To Obama - do you favor ban on handguns or registration? George S. to Clinton do you support the D.C. ban? Both supported local jurisdictions being able to issue guidelines in this area. Again, this is an attempt at a "gotcha" moment by the questioners. was not successful

George S. - to Obama how would you change affirmative action - talked about economic need. Clinton - help the economically disadvantaged, lets invest in our young people.

Gibson - what do you think about gas prices? Clinton - we will investigate - she believed there is market manipulation. need to have a windfall profits tax on the oil companies- we need to have a long term energy policy. Obama - has called for renewable energies, windfall taxes on the oil companies, increasing fuel efficiencies.

George S. - to Clinton - how would you use George W. Bush if you were President - she feels this is important but was not specific. Obama - a lot of republicans have good ideas.

The last 30 minutes have been better for they tried to concentrate on some issues but I would say it is doubtful either campaign will agree to a debate with these guys again anytime soon. Break time

Final Question - Thank Goodness! If it comes down to 25 superdelegates at the convention determining who wins what would you say to them. Clinton - I will be your champion in the white house, I'm ready to be the commander in chief, I will turn the economy around, lead us out of Iraq. I need the help of the voters in Pa to get there.

Obama - in a defining moment in our country - people have lost trust in our government, change occurs from the bottom up, not going to take PAC money, I believe in the American people.

Well, it is over. Did either candidate hit a home run? I would say no. Did either candidate have a major mishap? I would again say no - however, the spin masters are already hard at work as to what they will say in regard to the other candidate. During the first one hour soap opera portion of the debate, there will be plenty of nonsense that can be said. As to the 30 minutes of questions pertaining to issues, both of the candidates performed well and offered a better plan than the present Bush administration.

Let the spin begin. Stay Tuned.


Unknown said...


I am in complete agreement. My wife is afraid that I might have a heart attach as I sit here listen to the idiocy of Stephanopolous (and to a slightly lesser extent) Gibson.

This is a FARCE!! We need some gong-show like apparatus or shepherd's crooks with which we can yank these incompetents off of the stage...

Are these questions simply bought and paid for?? Where are the ISSUES, ISSUES, ISSUES...

People should have been able to make their decisions on the character issue long ago ... undecided voters need to hear about the ISSUES!

Anonymous said...

Ha! The shepherd's crook is a good reference. Too bad we did not have a total debate similiar to the last 30 minutes of questions. When the questioners finally got to real issues, they rushed through them in 30 minutes.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the great job! At one point I said to my wife, "56 minutes to the first issue!!", clicked Reload, and there were you making the same complaint!

Seriously, I'm glad I found your site - I needed to find somebody live blogging the kinds of things about this debate that were causing my head to explode, just to convince my wife that I'm not completely insane!

Hopefully, in the future, thousands to millions of folks will be tracking live blogs - and rejecting the beltway pund-o-crats.

Mark D in Pittsburgh.

p.s. Regarding my "gong show", "shepherd's crook" idea - in this era of internet feedback and reality television, it would not be that tough to arrange to VOTE A MODERATOR/QUESTIONER OFF OF THE DEBATE! Just have a big pool of mods waiting in the wings ... "afta while" somebody will figure out the kinds of questions they need to ask to stay alive...

Anonymous said...

Mark - Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found the site and I hope you come back often to read what our authors have to say on the issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a lot of the questions were weak and we want the issues raised that matter. But as Hillary said if you want details go to her web page. Same with Obama. There are plenty of places to go read to details of the candidates programs. In my take on this debate the moderators were trying to throw things out that may come back out to bite the candidate in general election. Obama is still being vetted. And for the matter so is Clinton as she has been continously since 1992.

I cringed each time a question was asked that was silly, like the flag lapel question but what is more imporatant was the ability for the candidates to react to them. And I just plain think Obama did a less than stellar job answering the questions. And Clinton is right, the GOP will be pounding him in the general election. And when I compare the substance of the answers of either candidate Clinton seems much more confident and on the mark.

Woodbury MN

PS George I enjoyed reading your running commentary.