The CNN/YouTube debate had an interesting format with some good questions from the public (and a few clunkers) and more sparks between the candidates that earlier debates, particularly on the war.
Hop over to Iowa Independent's comments section for more live insights from Dien Judge, T.M. Lindsey, Lynda Waddington and Ben Weyl.
8:19 My biggest surprise of the night: Obama's nuclear power remarks.
Edwards had the best candidate video: getting a laugh with the haircut reference, then turning it around to mock the mockery and ask what's really important. Worst: Kucinich for repeating TEXT PEACE TEXT PEACE TEXT PEACE way too many times.
8:11 CNN says their focus group calls the leaders Obama, Biden, Edwards in that order. The pundits liked Clinton's tough answer on the "would you talk to the dictators" question.
If you line the time clock up in the order they stood on stage, it makes a bell curve. Just as we thought.
So what was the best question? The snowman global warming question combined cutesy and serious well, the Al Gore question was a waste of time.
Last video: Obama. Look, I'm a rock star!
Last question: The Hammers are the name of what English soccer team? Just kidding: Praise your neighbor.
Gravel liked Dodd's dad but "follow the money."
The rest is mostly fluff. Hillary: "Dems are ready to lead." Biden says it's ridiculous.
And that's really an interesting way to sum it up: the questions were sometimes wonderful, sometimes shallow, but with thousands to choose from, chalk that up to CNN. Some of these exchanges were among the sparkiest we've seen yet, particularly the Iraq segment.
7:57. "In God We Trust" and an atheist question.
I want to listen to those answers again.
Gun control question: "Are our babies safe?" The questioner's "baby" is something that looks semi automatic. Richardson answers with background checks and poverty.
Biden: "If that's his baby he needs help." That's Joe, who ends with "hope he doesn't come lookin' for me."
7:53 Does you health care cover the undocumented? Dodd insists on answering the health care big picture and gets applause for breaking format: "this is an important question, everyone should be able to answer it." Richardson: it should cover everybody.
Next question: How would you represent change with Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? Hilary: "I think it
IS a problem that Bush was elected in 2000. I actually though someone else was elected..." and BIG applause for "I'm very proud of my husband's record." She runs out of time with all the applause. Gravel: "The Democratic Party sold out to Wall Street."
Obama: "Every question you've heard, you see cynicism." Back to the theme.
7:47 Health Care Mashup question. Including another Subterranean Homesick Blues reference.
Obama: My plan has universal coverage, despite what Edwards said. HE thinks only way to get it is to mandate it. Health insurance/drug lobby: "A seat at the table, but they can't buy every chair." Edwards: Obama plan is serious but not universal, you HAVE to mandate it. Gets emotional - "we should be outraged."
Clinton: universal care is an American value. References to `93 and "I have the scars to show for it"-- shots all around!
7:44 a singing question. Not as good as George Harrison's "Taxman." Biden: "Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget." Repeal Bush tax cuts.
Next question: will you raise taxes? Dennis: crams whole platform into answer.
7:42 Social Security earnings cap. Dodd would support removing cap. Obama: we need a bipartisan plan.
Next question: We're going broke. Raise taxes, or cut benefits? Richardson: Need bipartisan effort to fix
Medicare -- emphasize preventative. Pension portability. (Doesn't answer the specific question)
7:39 Minimum wage. Would you be president for minimum wage? (HELL yeah!) Dodd has two kids, can't do it. Edwards "yes' Clinton "sure." Obama: "Most folks on this stage have a lot of money. You're doin' all right Chris. We don't have Mitt Romney money." Biden: "I don't have Obama money either." Anderson Cooper "you'd all get overtime." The whole exchange got a little too flip...
Dennis video: Text PEACE. He said Text PEACE at least 8 times in 30 seconds.
7:34 Voting equipment. Richardson: go to paper trails. We need same day registrations, stop GOP vote suppression. Wish more folks had gotten that one. The questioner's premise: "if I can get the same Starbuck's latte everywhere, I should get the same ballot everywhere."
Video from Biden: he's the only one with a plan, it says here. That calls for another shot. And how about a shot every time Gravel complains about not getting enough time?
7:30 Nuclear power (is this a GOP debate?) Edwards: No, costly, slow, unsafe. Also against liquid coal. Obama: We should explore nuke as part of the mix. (Interesting...) The reason nothing changes: "Dick Cheney met with oil companies 40 times. Put nat'l interest ahead of special interest."
Clinton: take away oil tax breaks. "all these alternatives are important. I'm agnostic about nuclear power." So
let's figure out waste and cost of nukes.
7:28 How will US decrease energy consumption? Gravel: uses it to work in Fair Tax. Dodd: 50 MPG CAFE, corporate carbon tax.
Raise your hands: who took a chartered jet here? Gravel: "I took the train."
7:26 A snowman asks about global warming. Cute. Kucinich re-uses his "global warring" line. Move away from oil.
7:25 a question about Al Gore getting in: "does that hurt y'all's feelings?" Biden: "The people of Tennessee just had their feelings hurt."
7:23 and a sex ed question gets giggles. It's trying to get at their role as parents. Obama asked about Romney attack: Obama says Romney supported the same thing
"apparently he forgot."
7:20 would you send your kids to public school? Edwards: my kids all went to public school. Clinton: Chelsea went to public school until Bill was president. Obama: my kids went to a private school -- because I taught there. But we don't have good public schools for ALL kids. Biden: my kids went to private school after my first wife died. Kucinich: my daughter was in public. Gravel wants more education competition. They're letting everyone answer this one and taking a lot of time.
7:18 and we have a music vid on No Child Left Behind. Richardson gets cheers for "scrap it" and for teacher minimum wage of 40 k.
Biden: "It was a mistake." I voted for it because I had great faith in Ted Kennedy. You could scrap it or do a major overhaul.
7:14 Richardson's video is a Job Interview ad.
Who was your favorite teacher. Gravel talks of childhood dyslexia. Obama says his 5th grade teacher who had lived in Kenya (gives him a chance to touch on the bio). Biden talks of abuse of power. Edwards' daddy was a millworker - shot!
7:10 break time. Gravel's video. It's not the one where he throws the rock in the water. That last exchange was the most sparks I've seen on the war -- or indeed on any issue -- in any of these debates so far. Differences in emphasis and expectation setting, with Dodd and Richardson on the Get Out side and Biden and Clinton responding with a version of Get Real. Wish Obama and Edwards had been in the loop instead of Kucinich
7:05 When will all US troops be out, and how many family members do you have serving?
Dodd: We need out by this April. I was in Guard, my brothers were in, etc.
Richardson: There's a difference between Senators and me. Six months, no residuals.
Biden: Richardson can't get troops out in six months. Make sure you can protect civilians or let them die. We need to get the mine resistant vehicles over there as long as there's one troop (applause)
Clinton: Move out ASAP, but Joe is right: we can move a brigade or two a month. They're not even planning for that. We need to move out safely. Let's admit now that it's
Dennis: Defund now. Everybody take a shot.
7:01 Would you meet with leaders of Cuba, Iran, Syria, N Korea, etc? Obama: Yes - Reagan talked to Soviets while calling them 'evil empire.' We have to find areas to move forward, a 'disgrace' we're not talking. (Obama cites Reagan? Almost as good as Hillary citing Goldwater.)
Clinton: Won't promise to meet with leaders, but will make diplomatic efforts (she's trying to sound tough)
Edwards: Yes, I would, but only after diplomatic groundwork. "This is just a piece of a bigger question" (shot!) -- we need to restore US moral leadership.
6:59 Soldier re: women's status in Middle East. Would they take Hillary seriously? Clinton: I've met with many officials in that part of world, and
I can be taken seriously. (applause)
6:56 Should women register for draft? Dodd: yes, but I oppose draft. We need national service. "I served in the Peace Corps." Another shot, everyone.
Clinton: yes to reg., no to draft. Notes women combat deaths. Talks about Public Service Academy.
Edwards plays the audience member card with a female combat pilot sitting with Elizabeth.
Gravel: I ended the draft (shot time!)
6:52 to Gravel re: his saying troops in Vietnam dying in vain. Goes on about unfairness of format. "There's only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain -- it's MORE soldiers dying in vain." Best line of his campaign. They zoomed in to a scary extreme
Obama critiques lack of planning when we got in. But disputes the "dying in vain" line.
Edwards: "the question is, what is going to be done to stop this war." He's been doing a lot of paraphrase-the-question. "Hold Bush responsible."
6:48 Why haven't the Dems gotten us out already?
Clinton: We've tried to win GOP support for a timeline. Iraqis refuse to accept political solutions. Plays the pentagon-bashing-me card.
Dennis: The Dems have failed the American people. Defund now.
Dodd: we need to set a date to make Iraq act. Dodd breaks format and gets applause.
Richardson: Bring all troops home in 6 months, no residual forces.
6:47 Biden: we can't just pull out now. It would take a year to get everyone out, and you need a political solution. "I'm the only one who's proposed a political solution." Everyone take another shot.
6:45 "Are we WATCHIN' the same ___in' war? How do we pull out now?"
Obama: "I opposed this war from the start." Everybody take a shot if you're playing at home.
6:44 They're showing Citadel grad who was first US troop killed in Iraq. Troops get the biggest applause of night.
6:38 and I was wrong, Edwards actually does go with Hair, in the hippie musical sense with issue pics and a "What Matters?" tag.
A video question from Darfur. Richardson: I was at that camp. It's diplomacy, UN troops, pressure from China, it's LEADERSHIP. "The answer here is caring about Africa." This is the best I've heard him in a debate, sounds like he did in person. This guy is speaking from the heart here.
Biden: I heard the same arguments about Kosovo. We should send troops NOW. "They think we can save them and guess what, we can."
Gravel: Africa is afraid of us.
Clinton: We need to act instead of talk: UN, divestment, sanctions, and no fly zone. Tries not to answer on ground troops. She's pushed: "American ground troops don't
belong at this time." Turns it into Iraq.
6:35. Break time. Obama seems better so far than in previous debates. Biden and Gravel are invisible. Hillary's video looks like Subterranean Homesick Blues with the cue cards, but the music isn't as good. The questions have a lot of nuance, and the candidates are talking more like presidents and less like legislators.
6:30 another gay marriage question, from a southern black minister: "why is it acceptable to use religion" against this? Edwards: I feel enormous personal conflict on this issue. I want to do... basically everything short of marriage. (And mentions that Elizabeth disagrees). A new twist: the guy is in the audience, and "did he answer
the question?" "Not like I would have liked to have heard it." Edwards: Using religion is NOT acceptable.
Obama asked about old interracial marriage laws. Obama " we have to make sure everyone is equal under the law." Civil unions will do that, marriage up to denominations.
6:27 Gay marriage. Dennis: yes. (I wish everyone could answer everything.) Dodd, you voted for DOMA; Dodd filters it through "how would you like your kids
treated" comes out for civil unions, not marriage. Richardson: I'd do what's achievable -- civil unions, Don't Ask, hate crimes, etc.
6:25 Edwards: "Anybody who's considering not voting for Obama because he's black, or Clinton because she's a woman, I don't want your vote." Women affected by poverty, that's my cause. On the issues that directly affect women's lives I have the strongest record.
Clinton: Praise to Elizabeth, I have a long record on women's issues. It's terrific we're arguing about this (applause)
6:22 to Obama and Clinton: not black enough, not woman enough.
Obama: "When I'm catchin' a cab in Manhattan..." (laughs) Close the gaps, because that will solve the race problem. Give children a fair shake.
Clinton: Gets big applause, I'm running because I think I'm most qualified, etc. "when I'm inaugurated it'll send a great message to girls and boys"
6:19 Race, class and Katrina. Dodd: if it had been a white population, more rapid response. "It should have been done ahead of time."
First question to Richardson. "Eliminate any red tape that helps families." I know what he meant, but he does that all the time in debates.
I'd like to have seen more folks answer the Republican running mate question.
6:16 to Edwards: slavery reparations. Edwards: no, but there are other things we can do to create equality. "We can't trade our insiders for their insiders."
Raise of hands: Dennis is for reparations, no one else.
Obama: The reparations we need are investment in our schools (big applause)
Candidate videos: Chris Dodd pokes fun at his own hair (will Edwards?)
6:13 which Republican would be your running mate? (gets applause.) Biden: Chuck Hagel, with Dick Lugar as a possible sec of state. The questions are broader and bigger picture than the journalist questions.
Edwards: These all ask "how do we bring about big change." Big power will not negotiate, we need to take it from them.
6:11 Gravel's mike cutting out. He's basing Obama for bundling. Obama: The reason you know who's raising $ for me is I passed a disclosure law. Gets big
6:10 Hillary, define "liberal." HRC: it's been made to seem as if it describes big govt. I prefer progressive, "I consider myself a modern progressive."
6:08 How would America be better with Kucinich as president? Dennis: I'm against
the war 100% of the time. "Strength through peace" and The Science Of Human Relations (sounds new agey) gets applause.
Hillary: which of us is ready to lead on day one?
Obama: This is a problem that spans the parties, we need a change of attitudes. (He's hitting the theme twice in two questions)
6:06 Dodd goes with the experience. Obama says the question is dead on because of the need for change.
6:04 and Biden gets zinged for stuffing the poll, laughs it off. First question leads with WAZZUP? and is basically "how are you different?"
6:00 and the debate leads with a goateed Gen Xer via YouTube challenging the candidates to answer the questions. Anderson Cooper shows rejected questions. I think we're going to see some LOLCats here. Im in ur debatez, askin ur questions.
5:52. The Dodd clock prompted me to quickly surf the other sites. This is, after all, the YouTube debate. The Edwards camp is having folks vote for their favorite YouTube question. Richardson had a live chat an hour ago. The Kucinich site is in Under Construction mode. Biden has a "You Can't Duck The Question" feature. (As John
Stewart would say, VIL-SACK!) Nothing special on Clinton or Gravel.
Meanwhile Lou Dobbs, our warm-up act, is banging the immigration drum.
5:41 and Chris Dodd is in the in box. The Talk Clock is back. The value of the tool gets him the mention. So here you go. See how it works live.
5:00 and I'm getting an early start because this factoid came my way: the seating arrangement. From left to right: Gravel, Dodd, Edwards, Clinton, Obama, Richardson, Biden and Kucinich.
Marginalization both figuratively and literally (or, well, spatially). Expect a lot of nice tight shots of center stage tonight.