[Re-published from 2008Central.net. This liveblog on Donklephant will be updated periodically. For the latest please visit the active liveblog at 2008Central.net]

7:00 PM: Greetings! The debate kicks off an hour from now, live on CNN and CNN.com. It’s being broadcast from the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas. Clinton will continue her assault on Obama being all speeches and no solutions. Obama will probably respond not with attacks but by continuing to play calm and emphasize his own plans.

Campbell Brown is the moderator; somewhere, Katie Couric is sad. She couldn’t get to moderate a debate but her stand in when she was at the Today Show does.

7:06: CNN photos from the debate. The Texas marching band is going to be in the room? Great, that’s exactly what’s needed to finally get the CNN debate over that pesky shark they’ve been trying to jump.

7:20: I’m choosing the pre-debate feed with no audio over the CNN coverage of John McCain having a friend. The band is playing, and people sitting directly in front of it have a look on their face that ranks a solid 9.8 on the ironic scale.

7:27: A very old man with a long beard and a top hat just walked by me. I’m assuming that’s an omen for what is going to happen tonight. Either that, or it’s an omen that the school forgot to lock the doors at 6 pm.

7:30: A reminder of what is on the line: Someone might have their head added to this.

7:35: Johnson would be 100 years old this year. I’m not sure what to make out of that. He did teach high school debate at one point though. I hope is was not policy, because he talks way too slowly for that. (kidding!)

7:40: Texas Democrats are parading after each other on stage. I fear they’re going to run out of them before the debate begins.

7:54: Goodness, the set is awkward. It’s sort of a half S. Apparently Wolf roaming free last time was unacceptable; Brown will be seated.

8:00: And away we go. Campbell Brown looks happy to be there. Jorge Ramos from Univision and John King from CNN emerge to no applause … until they are forced to applaud.

8:02: Clinton is introduced first, and then Obama. No noticeable difference in applause levels. The pack of photographers does their job while a handler demand they back up. Meanwhile, 5 feet away they discuss what candidates need to do. That just sounds awkward. Meanwhile, Ramos talks about how no one can win without the Hispanic community. Brown points out that Clinton wants more debates.

8:05: Brown announces the candidates have sat down. Gee, thanks.

8:06: NO RULES!

8:07: Clinton gives an opening statement about working in Texas 36 years ago. She name drops Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards. Talks up starting S-CHIP, and what she did to give health care to reservists. Says that discrimination against sick people ought be unconstitutional, and that veteran care needs to be improved. Finishes by talking about her “lifetime of experience.” And apparently her campaign is now “your campaign.”

8:09: Obama again references being friends with Clinton. Talks about the economy, using a personal example. Make that multiple personal examples – this is a new wrinkle. Segues into a discussion of Iraq. Talks about how they both have offered proposals to deal with the issues, but good ideas are not the problem. Says good ideas go to Washington to die. That’s a pretty good tag line. He blames lobbyists. Obama co-ops Barbara Jordan, but quotes her to one up Clinton.

8:12: This audience is going to kill me with applause. There’s lengthy applause after every answer.

8:13: Tancredo turns off the debate when Ramos starts the debate in Spanish. Will Clinton sit with Raul Castro to get a measure of him? She “hopes so”. What does that mean? She says she is going to look for signs of openness, and will reach out once she sees progress, citing democracy and progress. When pressed, she clarifies no, until change happens. Apparently, she’s looking for change she can believe in.

8:16: Obama says that he’s willing to meet with Raul Castro, and sees an opportunity to change. Distinguishes preparation from precondition, but it sounds really, really similar. Like, really similar. He cites freeing political prisoners. Talks about opening change here with remittances and visiting.

8:18: Obama is asked about a statement about policy being a failure. He says it has been a failure, with no progress over his lifetime, and that changes should happen in steps.

8:19: Clinton says she agrees that willing to negotiate is good, but distinguishes presidential negotiations from low level negotiations.

[Continued at 2008Central.net]

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