Debate Thread II


Part one is here. The candidates are sitting down for the Dr. Phil section of the show.

8:10: Kucinich, on how to "rebuild" the military after Iraq: "Turn into a peacekeeping force." When Blitzer nudges: "Cut military spending by 25 percent."

8:13: Obama, who has a Romney-esque plan to expand the military, thinks you might be able to rein in the Pentagon budget and doing that. And let me clarify about Dodd. It's not that he's boring (although he might be), it's that his rumbling Connecticut brogue wreaks havoc on the echoey sound system in the media room.

8:15: Given the chance to pander and tell a military mom that he'll let veterans use any hospital they want, Obama doesn't—he wants to fix the VA. Hillary nods. Richardson does not nod: "I will give your son a hero's health care."

8:21: In Iran, Hillary Clinton will use "the kind of diplomacy that Bill Richardson did… for my husband." Hear that, Edwards and Obama? Next time you run for president, try being friends with the Clintons first.

8:25: Clinton and Edwards basically have the same position as the Bush administration when it comes to Iran, but it takes them a while to get there. Edwards will even leave the nuclear option on the table, as "any responsible president" would. Not that Bush is responsible, of course! Ah, to have the simple, nuke-'em clarity of the GOP debates.

8:28: Blitzer tries out the CNN version of the 24 question on… Dennis Kucinich. It's actually not news that he wouldn't kill bin Laden if given the chance, but it's nice for the rest of the Democrats, who will disagree…

8:29: …Obama doesn't disagree! No, wait, he does. He wouldn't assassinate most people, but he would drop some bombs into Osama's batcave.

8:31: How the top three candidates show off their foreign policy cred. Clinton: "I've talked with Musharaf." Edwards: "I met him and his wife." Obama: "I pronounce Pakistan with two long 'a's."

8:33: I was feeling a little bad about saying Blitzer set a "3rd grade homeroom tone." And then he asked the candidates to raise their hands and chaos broke out. Hillary gets applause by telling him "stop with the motherfarking hypotheticals, beardo." (Not a direct quote.)

8:35: Richardson calls more U.N. deals and a possible Olympic boycott to end the genocide in Darfur. Geez, is he trying to lose the 1980 election?

8:38: When he gets the Darfur question Joe Biden decides to become the candidate of the forgotten man: the superhawk who likes to yell at people. Richardson gently slaps him: "With all due respect, we don't need another military involvement. Iraq is enough." Biden grabs his jaw and scowls.

8:40: A high-schooler thinks national service is awesome and wants to know if the candidates also think it's awesome. Gravel and Kucinich do, but Blitzer gets bored and changes the question: "Should we bring back the draft?"

8:43: My internship with Professor X pays off and I take over a New Hampshire voter's mind: He asks Obama what his definition of "rich" is. Obama explains that he meets a lot of people who are struggling, the tax code needs more fairness… aw, hell, more than $250k a year.

8:46: Edwards: "I don't know about the definition of 'rich'." Oh, I bet you do.

8:47: There were actually enough format-breaking moments, as candidates rejected Blitzer's questions, to erase the memory of Obama's "divisive question" jibe. Obama's done a lot of rambling since then and the audience (who waited a long time for this on a rainy day) clealry isn't finding him that compelling.

8:50: Tom Coburn, using the psuedonym "Fred Hollander," e-mails in a question about earmarks. Chris Dodd doesn't want to get rid of them: Gravel "totally" (his words!) does.

8:55: And Joe Biden endorses public campaign financing.

8:57: Why in the hell did Edwards say he'd spend his first 100 days "travelling the world" to rebuild our alliances? The point of the first 100 days is that the president's got momentum; he's on a honeymoon; the midterms are far enough away that Congress won't run away from a few unpopular votes.

10:10: Just got out of the spin room where I asked David Bonior, John Edwards' campaign manager, if Edwards would really "travel the world" in his first 100 days. No, says Bonior: He was speaking broadly about the need to repair our alliances and his real first 100 days would be all about domestic policy. So, yeah, Edwards blew the question.

Got lots of video, but will need to hack at it tonight to see how much is usable/good. I should have video of Dennis Kucinich saying the Democrats can't win with Hillary, Mike Gravel attacking the war on drugs, and a very special guest with a message for Michelle Malkin.

Oh, and check out Jim Geraghty.