For the first time ever we are watching a woman and an African-American debate for the nomination of their party for President of the United States. Wolf Blitzer has just introduced the candidates. There is a couple of minutes of photo-ops. The stakes are very high – with only five days to the Super Tuesday Primary – a virtual national primary.
There are no rules, CNN asks only that the candidates be reasonable in time constraints.
Obama has the opening comments, “…We are now down to two after 17 debates… One of us will be the next President of the United States… Hillary and I are friends and we are running a competitive race… The question is, how do we take the country in a new direction… What is at stake is whether we are looking backwards or forward… ”
Clinton responds, “…January 20, 2009, we will have a new President… I hope that you are looking at that president – either Barack or myself… ” She has a litany of issues she hopes are addressed in the next administration. “It is imperative that we have a President who can don the job on day one… It is imperative that we have a problem solver… ”
Question to Clinton – What do you consider the most important policy distinction between you? “… The differences pale in comparison with the Republicans… On health care we must have universal health care… It is imperative that we approach the mortgage crisis so people can stay in their homes… In foreign affairs we have serious threats and serious enemies and I think that we should have a full diplomatic effort… But I emphasize that we must change our country…”
Same to Obama, “Health care is the same at about 95%… My view is the reason people don’t have health care is people cannot afford the health care so we should provide subsidies – Senator Clinton believes we should mandate health insurance… On the mortgage crisis we both agree on the extent of the crisis – I have not signed on to the notion of an interest rate freeze for five years… We must reduce the influence of special interest groups in Washington, D. C…. On Iraq I was opposed from the start – to look forward the next President has to show the kind of judgment that uses our military wisely… If we meet with Iran they are more likely to change their behavior…”
Blitzer – on Health Care, Most Democrats really want full coverage – to Obama – Why is your voluntary plan superior to Ms. Clinton’s. “There is no one out there who wants health care who will not be able to get it… You can mandate it but there will still be people who cannot afford it… ”
Clinton response, “… This is a passionate cause of my public service… We want to maximize choice for people… If you are underinsured or not insured we will open the Congressional health plan to you… My plan will provide subsidies and will put a cap on premiums… It will be affordable with health care tax credits… ”
Each of the candidates spoke eloquently on the intricacies of hanging health care.
On taxes: Obama, “… it will not be difficult to challenge the Republicans on fiscal responsibility…”
To Clinton on how to pay fof health care: “Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and that will provide 55 billion to pay for health care… I would reign in the tax incentives to drug companies… Electronic medical records would save 77 billion a year…
Obama, “We have a moral obligation to make sure that everyone has health care… ”
On Immigration – the negative impact of immigration on the African-American community, Obama, “… I have worked on the streets of Chicago with underprivileged… I believe we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigration… We have to crack down on employers who abuse immigrant policy… We have to stand up for these issues when it is tough… ”
To Clinton on driver’s licenses, ” Clinton, “First the employers who use undocumented workers deprive other Americans of work… We must have a comprehensive immigration solution… We have to bring the undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and give them a pass to legalization… Pay fines, learn English, and wait in line… We need to solve these problems so we can address the issue of driver’s licenses… ”
They are taking a break – I will post and come back after the break.