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2008Central.net’s Live Blog Of MSNBC Democratic Debate In Cleveland, Ohio (February 26, 2008)

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[Republished from 2008Central.net]
8:19: Underlying themes aplenty. Will Hillary Clinton continue her harsh attacks from the weekend on Barack Obama? Will Obama maintain his cool presence he’s worked hard to maintain in these debates? Will Tim Russert admit he attended law school at Cleveland State on national television? Will Clinton fight back against MSNBC, or have those battles passed? Will Obama keep up his attacks on Clinton? Will Brian Williams ask more or fewer than 4 pointless questions?

We have the answers for you, here, tonight. Live!

8:40: And, we’re up. As you can see, the site has a new layout. It’ll take a few days for us to get everything in order, but if you notice a problem, please let us know.

8:58: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama enter the stage as Keith Olbermann finishes his interview with Chuck Todd. The genius is overwhelming.

9:00: Here we go. It’s a special day – exactly 10 months ago the Democratic primary contenders met for the first debate. The announcer notes that 8 presidents came from Ohio. Of course, they don’t name those presidents given that among those 8 are: Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes and Warren Harding.

9:03: The first question is about some the anger expressed by Hillary Clinton over the weekend. She explains that she is upset because she believes that Obama is distorting her record and the facts and wants to have a real debate grounded on true statements. Williams follows up with a question about the now infamous photo of Obama in Somalian elder clothes that appeared on Drudge. She states that to the best of her knowledge she is not aware of it coming from her campaign.

9:06: Sen. Obama states that he’ll take Sen. Clinton at her word on the subject and then wisely moves on to dealing with the health care issue. Obama states that there are legitimate differences between them on the health care issue and that the major difference is about mandates – in that Clinton’s plans has mandates and Obama’s doesn’t rely on them in the same way. He goes on to argue that Clinton has consistently said that his plan will leave out $15 million people, when he doesn’t believe it to be true.

9:10: Clinton responds by noting that Obama’s plan does have some types of mandates; most notably, one that requires parents to purchase healthcare for their children. She asks that if mandates are required in that instance, why are they not required across the board? Then, goes on to note that the issue of mandates is really about providing universal health care.

9:11: Obama again takes issue with the idea that his plan will leave out people. Then, extends the discussion by saying that we’re still not sure how Hillary Clinton will enforce her mandates.

9:13: Clinton will not let this discussion go. She contends that at the point that Obama’s plan has mandates, he recognizes the necessity of them and argues that it’s simply bad policy for him to leave them out in the broader sense.

9:15: Obama retorts that the type of mandates that Clinton calls for will ultimately end up punishing people that cannot afford it. Suggests that they get together and try and work out the details. Obama also draws an analogy to Medicaid in order to demonstrate why people will opt into the system.

9:16: Brian Williams tries to shift the topic and Clinton is not having any of that. She talks right over him until she’s able to make her point. Finally, Williams changes topics to NAFTA, but not before complaining about the 16-minute discussion on health care.

9:18: Clinton asks why Obama never gets the first question on these tough topics and ties it into a skit from the most recent Saturday Night Live. She contends that from the beginning (as in when she started running for the Senate in 2000), she has been a critic of NAFTA. She states that she recognizes that it hasn’t worked in some places, but also realizes that it has worked in other places.

9:21: Obama notes that Clinton said in 2004 that NAFTA ‘was good for New York and on balance was good for America.’ He states that he doesn’t believe this to be the case, not only because of trade and employment issues, but also because of labor and safety issues.

9:23: Tim Russert confirms that Sen. Clinton indeed said what Obama suggested that she did about NAFTA. Notes that during the ’90s, Al Gore said that the president can withdraw from NAFTA within six months and asks Clinton if she’s elected, will she notify Canada and Mexico that she’ll withdraw from NAFTA.

9:25: Clinton says she will notify Canada and Mexico that we will opt out, unless we renegotiate some of the core components of the agreement.

[This live blog at Donklephant will be updated periodically. For the latest, visit the active live blog at 2008Central.net.]