George Stephanopoulos Moderates the Debate
We’re ready to go. The debate starts at 9 am EDT and we’ll have full coverage all day long.

9:00 am: The debate starts, live from Drake University. From left to right, Kucinich, Obama, Biden, Richardson, Gravel, Edwards, Dodd, and Clinton on the right.

9:02: Clinton gets asked first if Obama is ready to be president. She defers to the voters, but stays away from any compliments and talks about her qualifications.

9:03: What about her comments on him being naive and irresponsible? Clinton says they have a disagreement on the issues, then talks about the serious nature of the president and the risk of meeting with no preconditions.

9:04: Dodd talks about his disagreement with Obama on Pakistan and how words on Pakistan have repercussions.

9:05: Biden says he calls for a Pakistan policy of free elections, and says he stands by

9:06: Richardson says Clinton represents experience, Obama changew, and that he represents both. Richardson says he’s met the dictators.

9:07: Obama says to prepare for this debate he rode in the bumper cars in the state fair. Obama says there is a substantive difference between himself and Clinton on meeting with dictators, and strong presidents do that. Also calls for taking out UBL if he’s visible. Says the personal diplomacy of the next president is key.

9:09: Clinton is asked about her comments on nuclear weapons on Iran vis-a-vs her comments on Obama’s comments on nuclear weapons and Al Qaeda. She says it was not a hypothetical, but a brushback. She says hypotheticals should not be used.

9:11: Obama says nothing about Al Qaeda in Pakistan is hypothetical and that no one in the military advocates nuclear use on Al Qaeda. Obama then turns it on Clinton by talking about Americans getting sick of the politics.

9:12: Edwards calls for hope and optimism, and using the carrot and stick to separate Iran from the Ahminanejad. Edwards says Obama’s view adds something to the debate. When pressed, he says Obama’s view is dangerous and the use of nuclear hypotheticals is wrong. Then concludes with a call to end nuclear weapons.

9:13: Gravel rails on democrats buying into the problem of Iran and gets a laugh for saying Cheney should be committed.

9:15: Richardson says Bush’s use of hypotheticals is the problem, and nuclear weapons should be the last option.

9:16: Moving on to what Karl Rove said on Clinton. Obama says whoever wins the nomination will win the general election. Then says that big problems like health care predate the Bush Administration, and that a winning strategy is more than red states and blue state. Makes an appeal to new politics. When pressed, says that its necessary to break out of old politics.

9:19: Edwards says the Democrats took over the Congress because they stood for change, and becoming the party of the status quo is a loser. Edwards says that taking on entrenched interests is key to change in Washington, and attacks Obama implicitly by saying that entrenched interests do not deserve a seat at the table. Complements Clinton, but then turns the discussion to the lobbyists issue.

9:21: Clinton starts out with a Rove joke, which people really don’t laugh at given what Obama and Edwards said. She says she knows how to win. She says that the Republican machine will give any nominee high negatives. Really hammers home that she knows how to win. Appeals to universal health care. When pressed on lobbyists, she says she stood up to special interests in Washington. Asks why people take money from those that hire lobbyists if they don’t take money from lobbyists.

9:23: Edwards says the distinction is not artificial, but says the drug industry and insurance companies are who is preventing universal health care. Really rails against the companies.

9:24: Dodd criticizes ‘situational ethics’ and says public financing of elections is the only solution. Says we don’t elect a king, queen, or dictator, and that it’s about being a leader. Rallies around family leave act.

9:25: Kucinich says the debate is ignoring candidates like him. He ignores question about lobbists and talks about his health care plan. Says that his health care plan is the only one that would take out the health care plan. Once again, Kucinich really undermines what Edwards is saying, even by attacking Fortress.

9:27: Moving on to Iraq. Starting out with a Biden ad that he has a plan.

9:28: Richardson says Biden is not the only one with a plan, and talks about diplomacy, a three part division, and a all-Muslim peacekeeping force. Says having no residual forces is key.

9:29: Biden says its key how we leave. If we leave wrong, there’s a regional war that no one wants. Talks about his division plan, and that it would take a year to get troops out.

9:30: Richardson says that it would only take 6-8 months to get out.

9:30: Clinton is asked if Richardson or Biden is right. Clinton says Biden is right and troops cannot be moved without caution. She says that Richardson is right in that there should be intense negotiation. She says it is a massive project that has to be done. When pressed, she says that Biden is right.

9:33: Gravel says that he disagrees with Biden and Clinton, and that this is American imperialism. Says its crucial that the Iranians are brought in.

9:33: Edwards says that troops can be brought up between 9-10 months. Edwards says that any Democratic president will end this war and the differences are small compared to Republicans who are ‘George Bush on steroids.’

9:35: Richardson asks what are going to be left behind if only combat troops are pulled out under Clinton or Biden. Says stability is crucial, and any American force will undermine that.

9:36: Biden says its representative of a common mistake that there will be a unity government in Iraq. Compares Iraq to the Balkans. Biden says much more is at stake with how it ends, and if it ends wrong it will be a generational war. Hammers how much progress has been made in the Balkans. Richardson asks why troops are staying, and Biden responds to protect the civilians.

9:39: Obama agrees with Biden, and says there are bad options and worse options. Segues into him touting his opposition of the war from the beginning, touting his judgment. When pressed on being a difference between him and Clinton, he talks in a meta sense about having good judgment in future situations; also notes that Cheney and Rumsfeld had more experience than anyone.

9:41: Kucinich touts his stand from the start, and criticizes the Senate as supporting the war, and criticizes the Senators as voting for funding.

9:43: Clinton is asked abou the power of prayer, and gives a vague answer that she prays. Dodd agrees. Edwards says that prayers do not prevent tragedies, citing his sons death and Elizabeth’s cancer. Gravel believes in love and courage. Says more love would make better governance, and cites his appeal to have a national initiative. Richardson says he’s a Roman Catholic and that gives him a sense of justice (a Hispanic candidate for president touting his Catholicism? Eat your heart out JFK). Biden says the time to pray is not when bad things happen, and cites his wife dying, but to pray for judgment to deal with what happens. Obama says that prayer strengthens ourselves. Talks about what can be done, and how he prays for strength and wisdom to do what can be done. Kucinich says he was praying to god for 45 that he would get called on. Cites the Old Testament a few times and talks about his values.

9:49: How ought small farms be helped? Dodd says the Justice Dept. should take more anti-trust actions. Says opportunity ought be available to others.

9:50: Edwards says trade agreements have not considered the middle class. Says he would protect the middle class and have environmental standards.

9:52: Clinton says she agrees with Edwards and would help family farms, and would use trade agreements to that extent. Says she wants to be a smart pro-American trader.

9:53: Obama agrees with everyone else, but says that a cap of subsidies on mega-farms is necessary. Adds that globalization isn’t going to go away, and that America is not afraid to compete. Says someone negotiating is key.

9:54: Richardson says that its important to help the family farm with a policy of conservation. “You’re about to get off by a commercial” “Trade, jobs” “We’ll be right back.”

[Photo Credit: ABC News]

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