6:30 PM CST at Cleveland State University. The debate should be interesting. We will open with a brief synopsis of the past few days and then have a running commentary during the debate – the post will be updated every 15 – 20 minutes, the first update at about 8:20 PM CST. I sit at my keyboard and capture some exact quotes but always the essence of the debate.
The past few days has seen a ‘reversal of fortune’. schizophrenic, manic/depressive response from the Clinton camp. Senator Clinton ended the last debate on a high note by saying how honored she was to be on stage with Obama. Over the weekend Senator Clinton began mocking Obama’s style, drawing huge laughs from her audiences – but totally confusing anyone who is trying to make sense of her campaign.
The debate starts at 8:00 PM CST (my time zone). Regular updates to this post begin at 8:20 PM.
The big question is: Which Hillary will show up tonight, and can she catch Obama off guard?
8:00 PM CST. The debate is on – Brian Williams offers the opening comments along with some of the debate parameters. Time Russert is present – and will be moderated by Williams. They show some clips from previous debates and campaign trail commentary. And the gun fires, the gates are open, and the race is on:
Clinton – “This is a contested campaign and we have differences, in tactics and choices… His tactics have been disturbing to me and the voters need to have the information they need… Health Care reform is a passion of mine… The debate should be accurate and my plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable…
Williams – The Drudge report whowed Obama in muslim garb – Clinton, “As far as I know it did not come from my campaign… It is clear what I would do if it came from my campaign…”
Obama – “I do want to focus on health care – I have said She has a good health care plan – 95% is similar. Her campaign has distributed negative literature about my plan… Hr plan is for a mandate, not for government but for people to have health care… She would force in some fashion all people to have health care… ” Obama gives specific details and presents very well. “Her campaign has consistently done negative campaigning toward my campaign…”
Clinton, “This is an issue that goes to the heart of whether this country will finally do what is right… Senator Obama has a mandate on parents to provide health care for children. .. I know from experience that we will continue to leave some out if we do not require insurance…. His attacks are misleading and goes to the heart of whether we will see universal health care… In Senator Obama’s mailing it is almost as if the health insurance companies and Republicans wrote it… It is imperative that we stand as Democrats on universal health care.”
Obama – “I believe in Universal health care and this is the point – Senator Clinton’s accusation is not accurate… We do more to reduce costs than any other plan out there… We don’t know how Senator Clinton will enforce the mandate… Will they be fined? and have no health care?… Insurance companies would like to have a mandate… I would limit the amount anyone ever has to pay to a percentage of income… I have the most aggressive measures to reduce cost and improve quality…”
Obama “It is not accurate to say that Senator Clinton does more to reduce health care costs… I am happy to have a discussion with Senator Clinton to achieve the goal of Universal Health Care… I believe that if we make it affordable people will purchase it… ”
Clinton “About 20% of people who are uninsured are young and think they are invulnerable… We have to have a plan to get there…”
Obama – “Under my plan people will be covered by parents plan until age 25…”
Williams on NAFTA – Clinton “I seem to get the first question all the time… I have been a critic of NAFTA since the beginning…. When I ran for the Senate I was critical of NAFTA… What I have seen is that factories close and move… We need to have a plan to fix NAFTA… I would have a time-out to get time to fix the agreement…
8:20 PM: Clinton “Senator Obama has a mandate… Parents must provide health care for children… What about the breadwinner… At the point of contact with employment or government people would be automatically enrolled….”
Obama “NAFTA does not have good environmental or other standards to protect us… Cities have lost jobs because of NAFTA… When I first moved to Chicago in the early 80’s I saw the net cost of poor trade agreements…. We can’t have toys with lead paint in them to make our children sick… We have to give tax breaks that invest in America… ”
Russert – President Clinton said NAFTA was good and you agreed, Clinton, “I have said that we would renegotiate NAFTA… I will say that we will opt out unless we can renegotiate NAFTA… The problem is in some places like Ohio and Up State New York… I have actually voted to put more teeth into our trade agreements… It is not enough to criticize NAFTA and I have a plan to enhance the enforcement mechanism and a clear view of how it goes forward… ”
To Obama, you have been ambivalent, Obama, “I would make sure that we renegotiate… I think Senator Clinton is right on this one… I have not been ambivalent at all… ”
Russert, to Obama: lack of investment and education are the problems, Obama, “We have seen seven years in which the President has been looking out for industry and not for ordinary workers… We are going to invest in science and technology and education and energy… We can create jobs building new energy infrastructure…”
To Clinton on jobs: In 2000 you pledged 200,000 new jobs for Up State New York but there has been a net loss of 30,000. Clinton “.. I thought Al Gore was going to be President… As President we can create 5 million new jobs… Invest in training and science to create the jobs… Tax incentives, and training and a commitment to follow through…”
To Obama on foreign policy and Clinton’s campaign rhetoric: Obama, “… Senator Clinton equates ezperience with longevity in Washington… On the most important foreign policy decision in our generation I was very clear that we should not go into Iraq…. We are bogged down in a war that Senator McCain suggested migth go on for 100 years… We have neither stability nor security in Pakistan… On the critical issues that matter my judgment has been sound…. ”
To Clinton on Commander in Chief, Clinton “I have put forth my experience on foreign policy… every time the question of qualifications comes up Senator Obama points to one example… By 2004 he agreed with President Bush… Since he hac come to the Senate we have voted the same on issues of war… Where is the difference?… On a number of issues I disagree with Senator Obama… I have long advocated a tougher position on Pakistan… I disagree with his position that he would meet with dictators without preconditions… I have been on the Senate foreign Relations Committee for five year and I can confront Senator McCain better than Senator Obama…”
Obama “I ahve been against the war for a long time and the war was a big strategic blunder… Once we have driven the bus into the ditch there are only so many ways we can get out… In fact she facilitated and enabled President Bush to make this decision… I never said we should bomb Pakistan… This administration has done what I suggested… I have also been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I offer a clean break with the Bush Cheney administration…”
You both have pledged withdrawal of troops. What if Iraq government says get out now… Obama, “If the Iraqi government says leave then we have to leave… We have to insure the national security of our government.. As soon as I take office I will call th3e Joint Chiefs and we will plan our withdrawal and not be held hostage by the Iraqi government… ”
Clinton, “If Iraq says leave then we will absolutely leave… ”
Russert: If Al Qaeda resurges, Clinton “You make a lot of hypothetical statements… ” GOOD FOR HILLARY .. “I will take out one to two brigades a month… We have to make judgments about what is in the best interest for America…”
Obama, “.. I was chairman of a committee at the beginning of this campaign so there have not been many hearings… Our allies continue to believe that we made a blunder in Iraq… I always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests…. That is true not just in Iraq… It will be my job to be sure we are hunting them down…”
8:47 PM CST: A Commercial break.
Williams to Obama on hyperbole, they show a Clinton video mocking Obama, Obama, “.. laughs, sounds good… I thought Senator Clinton had some good humor and I will give her points for delivers… I understand her positions… I spent twenty years helping people in my career in public service…” He lists a variety of accomplishments that I cannot keep up with… “… When I got to Congress I made sure we had a government that is more responsive to people… I know about people and their problems… No body has been listening to them… Bush and Cheney have not been advocting for the people… I am running because I cbelieve I can listen and offer help…”
Clinton, “… I was having a little fun but the larger issue is that getting health insurance for everybody will not be easy… It takes a fighter and someone who will go toe to toe with the health insurance industry… And the kinds of needs that people talk to me about as I go across Ohio… People feel like they are invisible to the government… I believe that I am a fighter… ”
Videon on Obama talking about Clinton being a Co-President and selectively picking what to take credit for, Obama, “… She often says here is what we did and what we accomplished… I don’t begrudge her claim… but you can’t take care of all the good thaings and not the bad things like NAFTA… She talks about me objecting to caps on credit cards – I objeced to the whole bill… She mentioned that she is a fighter – and I don’t doubt her sincerity but her approach has been wrong in the past because of her fighting and as a consequence there are a number of people who were not included int he negotiations… Hope is not enough… The only way to get this stuff done is to mobilize the American People to pay attention and we are actually going to have to go after the special interests… It does not help if you are taking money from the special interests…. ”
On motivation to Obama and public financing, you seem to be waffling, Obama, “I am not yet the nominee… If I am the nominee then I will sit down with John McCain to make sure we have a system that is fair to both sides… I do not take PAC money for money from lobbyists because the American people will finance the campaign and they have… Our average donation is $109 and the people have financed us… ”
To Clinton on accountably and responsibility and your tax return… Why not release tax return.. Clinton, “… The American people are bankrolling my campaign.. I am thrilled at so many people getting involved… that is who is funding my campaign…”
(My grandson called and I was interrupted)
Russert reacting to unexpected developments do you accept Farrakhan’s endorsement. Obama, “…I did not solicit his support and I do not endorse his anti-semitic comments and we have no formal relationship… I can’t stop someone from saying that I am a good guy… I live in Chicago and I have been clear on my position about Farrakhan… ”
Russert is a buffoon chasing Obama around the stage on Farrakhan, Obama, “… My relationship with the Jewish community is sound and they know that I don not tolerate anti-semitic comments… ” Russert assumes and presumes and dwells on trivia – he thinks he knows how to ‘get’ the candidates – but he is just a fool…
Clinton, “… I rejected the support of people that I did not agree with on Israel… I was willing to take that stand… I stood on principle… ”
9:15 PM – second commercial break
To Obama on the National Journal rating of Liberal. Obama, “… Let’s look at their rating … on immigration and the other on the office on public ethics and monitoring ethics in the Senate… According the national journal that is a liberal position but there are many republicans who agree with me… Why is my campaign attracting more independents and Republicans… People don’t want to go back to those old labels of Conservative and liberal… ”
To Foreign affairs… The successor to Putin, Clinton, “… He is a hand picked successor by Putin… there is much information to be acquired… It raises serious issues about how we are going to go forward… They support Iran’s nuclear ambition… We need a more effective strategy towards Russia…”
Obama, “…Senator Clinton spoke correctly about this… Putin will continue to have the strongest hand… Bush saw his soul and then neglected our relationship with Russia while Putin was rattling the sabers… We did not send a message to Putin that we would be serious… ”
Russert does more hypothetical on Russia helping Serbia. Obama, “… We work with the international community to form coalitions to help Serbia over time to enter into the broader European community…”
Any votes in your history that you would take back, Clinton “… I regret deeply that Bush waged a preemptive war that I do not agree with… but this election has to be about the future… Latin America, and Africa, and China, and the Middle East… We could have done an entire program on what we will inherit from George Bush…”
Obama, “… In my first year in the senate we had the Terry Shiloh situation and I remember that Congress eventually interjected itself and I think that was a mistake…”
Obama, “We have gone through twenty debates and there is still a lot of fight left and Senator Clinton is an outstanding public servant… There is vanity and ambition but when you spend as much time as Senator Clinton and I you realize that people are not looking for government to solve all their problems – they are just looking for a helping hand…”
What is the fundamental question Clinton must answer to voters to prove worthiness, ” Obama, “… She would be worthy of being the nominee – but I would be better… the issue is about George Bush and McCain… She does not have to answer the question about whether she is qualified… But I can bring the country together… And I have atrack record all of my adult life of unique bias in favor of opening up government… Those are qualities that I bring to this race…”
To Clinton on Obama, Clinton, “… There is not doubt that we both feel strongly about our country and we bring that energy to the election and the White House… It has been an honor to run with Obama… I amthrilled to be running to be the first woman President… I feel that eith one of us willmake history… The question is who can actually change the country… I believe my experience and insight will help me be successful in making change… I want to help the people of this country get the chances they deserve… the wealth and well connected have had a President and now others deserve a chance…”
This was a useful and worthy discussion on issues and the candidates. Minus Tim Russert it would have been great.. Brian William is a real professional..
There were no knock out punches thrown, They circled the ring and jabbed and danced and sometimes leaned on the ropes of their experience and their past.. We are truly blessed to have these two great candidates. Again, I agree with Obama that what we need is is someone to unify this country…