[Re-published from 2008Central.net. We will update this post on Donklephant periodically, but for the latest check out the live blog at 2008Central.net]
This evening, the Democratic presidential candidates will participate in the the ABC News/Facebook/WMUR debate in New Hampshire. The participating candidates are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and John Edwards.
8:41: The Republican debate has ended and now all the candidates, both Democratic and Republican are on stage. Interesting to see them all together like that.
8:42: There were some hoots and hollers in the press room when Rudy and Hillary greeted each other on stage.
9:03: Here we go, from left to right – John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton.
9:04: Gibson starts with what he believes is the greatest threat to the U.S. – that being, Nuclear terrorism, of course. Question: How aggressively would the candidates go after potential nuclear terrorists.
9:05: Obama states that he would be willing to go into Pakistan to pursue nuclear terrorists, if he had actionable intelligence. Does anyone remember Obama jumping up and down when Pakistan signed a peace agreement with Waziristan, which makes it significantly harder for us to pursue terrorists in the region? I certainly don’t.
9:08: Edwards says that if he knew where Bin Laden is, he would go get him regardless of where he is. Gives a scary scenario of Pakistan losing control of its nuclear weapons and states that an ad hoc approach to this will not work, rather we need a cohesive policy. Indicates that he would work towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
9:10: Richardson says that he would always use diplomacy first in any foreign policy decision. Honestly, this statement is the equivalent of one of these candidates stating “When I get up in the morning, I promise to stand up, put on a pair of pants and then proceed with my day…always ensuring that I have pants on.” Richardson goes on to say that he would use leverage to push Musharraf out and establish a caretaker government of technocrats. Again, this is such a mind bogglingly oversimplification that a red mark appeared on my forehead without me even needing to slap it.
9:12: Hillary makes a quick reference to aggressive action taken by the Bill Clinton’s administration in the 90s. Then goes on to note 5 specific issues regarding the situation that need to be thought of and addressed. Hillary is best in the details and should stay there, although she can be a bit long winded. One thing worth noting is that she stated, ‘Musharraf is already president and these elections are about the parliament.’ She was criticized recently for a series of gaffes regarding this subject, where she incorrectly stated that Musharraf was running in the elections.
9:15: Richardson wants to remember history. Talks about Iran, the Shah, but does a terrible job making a strong connection to the present discussion.
9:18: Gibson asks another question. This time about what we wish we would have done the day after a nuclear weapon is detonated in an American city. Edwards jumps in and states that the first thing we need to do is find the people responsible for it immediately. Edwards notes that it’s important for the president to react, but react strong…oh and to also remain calm. This distinguishes him from the other candidates because…why? I mean seriously, this isn’t a real answer. The question was about what we WISH WE WOULD HAVE DONE….not….what should the demeanor of the president be after the attack.
9:20: Clinton goes back to the first part of the question. Hillary talks about nonproliferation, we would have wished we had done more and then states how she would go about doing it. She criticizes security at ports. I’m going to have to go ahead and call bollocks on this (but NOT the dog’s bollocks, for our English readers). Here’s why I say this: Hillary didn’t even vote on the US-Peru free trade agreement. One of the major issues with that legislation is the fact that it provides port security concerns (i’ll update later with a link to the post i’ve already written on this). If she really cared, she could have argued about it on the trail and voted against this legislation or worked to have the security issues resolved, but she didn’t. Oh, and Obama didn’t vote on this either.
9:24: Richardson chimes in. He says that he would “immediately seek negotiations with the Soviet Union.” Now is when I stop paying attention to someone that talks about diplomacy and experience and then still refers to Russia as the Soviet Union (would we like it, if they referred to the U.S. as “the colonies” or “the confederacy”?)
9:26: Gibson asks Hillary to contrast her and Obama on her contention that Obama is “not ready.” Hillary seriously dodges the question and says that there are still questions that people can ask.
9:28: Obama doesn’t let Sen. Clinton get away with it. Says that the story that Gibson was referring to was based on quotes from people in her campaign. Then turns to health care. He then Clinton on her major critique of his healthcare plan – the charge being that he leaves out 15 million people. Obama explains that, his plan is about reducing costs and that it’s a legitimate area for disagreement and that he offers choice.
9:30: Hillary responds. She offers a really strong first response, regarding the fact that Obama has mandates for children but not for adults…Obama effectively counters that it’s about choice and since children aren’t in a position to make that choice, it’s mandated. Hillary tries to follow up, but flubs and then launches into a new attack — that Obama is a flip-flopper (queue creepy organ music). Attempting to lump Edwards in with her “defensive” position, Hillary criticizes Obama for changing positions on mandates, the Patriot Act and war funding.
9:34: Edwards doesn’t bite. Instead, he goes on to repudiate Clinton’s claim that Obama is a flip flopper. Then he goes on to attack Hillary by saying that the real debate is about who is best to be that agent of change, calls Hillary the status quo and again references his #2 finish in Iowa.
9:35: Hillary is not having any of that. Offers examples of things she has changed – like bringing about the Family Medical Leave Act and other legislation. Money quote: “I’m not running on a promise of change, I’m running on 35 years of change.”
9:36: Richardson talks about being to hostage negations more civil than this debate, basically asks what is wrong with him. I could answer that — he has described his mind as mush and is somewhat erratic, otherwise, he would be a really strong candidate.
9:37: Edwards whines…no no, really, I know it’s hard to believe.
9:41: Question: Is the surge working? Hillary says no and explains by clarifying what the underlying purpose of the surge is. Richardson believes it’s a massive failure and talks about the need for a regional solution. He keeps pounding the table, which makes an annoying noise in the mic and undermines a rare Richardson rhetorical flurry.
9:43: Obama doesn’t say the surge is working either. Credits a significant portion of reduced violence in a mindset amongst Iraqis that America may be leaving soon. I wonder if there’s any real evidence for this, it would certainly be really interesting.
9:47: Edwards is asked about his previous support of timetables and whether he would still have a timetable if the generals said it was not a good idea. Edwards says that it’s the job of the president to set policy, and that while he would listen to generals. Then gives plan: 40,000-50,000 troops out within the first year and an end to all combat missions in Iraq.
9:49: Richardson takes issue with Edwards’ contention by noting that leaving troops there means they become targets. Stresses the need to remove all the troops within 1 year…and again, hits the table in a way that makes a very loud noise.
9:51: Hillary references her request last year that the Bush administration assure the Senate that they are preparing plans for withdrawal…then says “when” she is president, she will being a withdrawal almost immediately.
[Continued at 2008Central.net]