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Recapping the Philadelphia Debate

Chris Cillizza and Anne Kornblut recap the Clinton-Obama debate at the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia, Pa. (Video by Ed O'Keefe /

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 17, 2008; 11:12 AM ET
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This was not a debate, but trash politics, Jerry Springer 5 minutes of fame. When will real issues be discussed? Possibly after McCain wins the election. Although it is nice to have a show that competes with Saturday Night live. The world is watching. WHAT A SHAME.

Posted by: justadad55 | April 18, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Poor Hillary.

One of my favorite blasts from the past:

Anyone else remember Clinton's spin

machine calling Paula Jones "trailer-park

trash?" She's not just elitist-- she's

downright spiteful!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Poor Obama. He got beat up last night and showed he can't play with the big boys (oh, big girl. What a wuss..... I suppose he's going to cry racism now. After all, that's what he does every time someone tries to vet or criticize him. Why shouldn't he have to answer questions about his past when Hillary has had to do nothing but since she announced her candidacy. If Obama acts like a spoiled, rotten child when pressed for answers, how the hell is he ever going to be President of this country. I'm sure after last night that those who previously voted for him wish they could get their vote back. I know I would.

Posted by: LAMM01 | April 17, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was a very fair debate. The candidates both had to own up to what they said or what they campaigns have said. There was nothing wrong with that. Finally after they got through with that, they dealt with the issues most of us wanted to hear. I don't care about all the garbage, but it does need to be dealt with. We can't put our heads in the sand that these things were not done or said.

Posted by: Debra | April 17, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows the reason Clinton got booed in that comercial is because it was obama supporters hanging around after he spoke. This always happens every election year at this type of thing. The comercial Obama has on showing this is rediculous. I agree that just because Obama doesn't wqant to own up to the smear tactics of his campaign doesn't mean it isn't sticking to him as well. He is just as responsible for what his campaign says as what he says himself. If he wanted a clean campaign he should have demonstrated that or made it clear to his campaign from the beginning instead of saying he wanted a clean campaign and then setting his attack dogs on Clinton. No one respects that. He just looks sneeky by not taking responsibility for the actions of his campaign. As he would say himself. It is just politics.

Posted by: Debra | April 17, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

It was a terrible debate. One of the worst I have ever seen.

However it was a great way to see the character of each.

Hillary took every chance she could to go after OBAMA.

In contrast Obama did not throw a lot of punches, when he very well could have.

Hillary had the advantage as far as the debate goes, instead of using it to look good, she instead looked like a school yard bully.

Posted by: Vance McDaniel | April 17, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh look at the Obama supports whining about the debate. You know all of you and his campaign can bash Hillary and not get blamed for "dirty politics" or going "negative". Hillary has been slung through the mud and the moment your Saint Obama is proven to be the wimpy candidate that he is you scream UNFAIR! When Hillary complained about thins being unfair, you all disgreed and you expect people to agree with you? At least I can admit that yeah the moderaters did let Barack have it...HOWEVER I dont feel bad because the media has been in this loev fest with Barack and it is sickening! Thing is there are still other things out there about your candidate that will make totaly contradict what he supposedly stands for....Then who will you blame?? It should be no one else but BARACK OBAMA.

Posted by: Ashley | April 17, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

What a shame. TV journalism took a big hit. ABC just could not keep its nose straight. Might as well have the 'moderators' interview each other.

Posted by: DenisR | April 17, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I did think the clip last night was kind of humorous. McCain is actually quite funny at times. I know everyone says Obama and Clinton can't run together but I do wish they would. I think they would make a great team. I like the way Clinton knows the issues inside out and I like the common sense that they both bring to the table.

Posted by: Debra | April 17, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

This was an ambush. Clinton got booed for bringing up this stuff and tries it again with the help of George and Charlie. She lost my vote as of tonight and ABC came across so biased any idiot would see it.

Posted by: james Pa | April 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Although I would have liked to see a debate focused solely on the issues; the Bosnian sniper issues, Wright, etc. are all issues that needed to be addressed. The whole reason for the debate was to talk about what has happened in the six weeks since the previous debate. I think Obama conducted himself very well, especially considering the onslaught he received, and it's going to prepare him for the even bigger attacks he will receive in the general election if he gets elected. What I found particularlly entertaining was when Obama and Hillary were asked to respond to McCain's claim that they would raise taxes if elected. However, McCain can't even say the word audacity. Here's the clip.

Posted by: kberly5768 | April 17, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow, George and Charlie I think O'Riely could have been more fare in this one..

Posted by: Clay | April 17, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I thought the debate was very good. The candidates got a chance to respond to the garbage that had been stuck to them for the last several weeks and hopefully put it to rest. Also, if you kept watching, they did deal with important issues. I thought that both responded very well. I was however a little confused on one of Obama's answers. It was regarding two disadvantaged students, one black and one white. If you were giving one a scholarship, who would get it. He said something about basing it on historical need. What is that? Didn't the white student deserve it just as much? Reverse discrimination is still discrimination and this country will not come together until people and oportunity is colorblind.

Posted by: Debra | April 17, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

When Obama is president, he'll reform the media so "debates" like this will result in hefty FCC fines. The candidates should simply be asked to state their ideas and should not have to answer pointless questions about their judgment. Read Obama's Four Year Plan, it's all in there.

But seriously:
1. Kornblut is easy on the eyes.
2. Just because the candidates agree on policies doesn't mean that real questions can't be asked. Others disagree with their policies, and many - including me - have pointed out the hugely obvious flaws in their policies. They should be asked to defend their policies and respond to critics.
3. If you want real debates about policy, support this proposal:

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | April 17, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with TeriB. ABC News, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos did a great job. They asked tough questions to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. How refreshing to see a debate were the real protagonists were the contenders instead of Tim Russert and Brian Williams. Nice job!
I support Senator Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Maria | April 17, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama still looks fine in the polls and online as well, as these new figures outline;

Hillary vs. Barrack- FaceBook Facts:

Posted by: Dave | April 17, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Debate? What debate? This was a paid advertisment from the Hillary camp! I can't believe that Charlies and Stephenpinhead have the nerve to call themselves moderators. Wow! I was disappointed by the obvious smack down against Obama!

Posted by: Babasola | April 17, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

It's because of people like Teri B that we have ridiculous debates such as the one ABC hosted last night. If you care anything for this country and the direction we are going, you would be appalled and offended at such an event. This was clearly an ambush of Obama.

Can anyone explain why there wasn't one question about Free Trade considering Penn was hit hard by the agreements of the 90's. I suspect this would make Hillary look bad seeing as both her campaign manager and Husband took money to support those agreements.

Posted by: Len | April 17, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

What was this, American Idol? ABC and HRC seem to be intent on driving engaged, concerned voters from the room with this gotcha nonsense. Don't these folks have any priorities other than demonstrating how well they've learned to parrot Fox?

Posted by: papercutswcni | April 17, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Worst debate ever. Thanks a lot, Bush/Clinton era. Your careless deregulation of the media has resulted in the formation of these disgusting conglomerates of corporate Yellow Journalism, the likes of which have not been seen since William Randolph Hearst and Joe Pulitzer duked it out.

Our connection to the outside world is now controlled entirely by Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Microsoft, Disney, and General Electric.

And that's why the debates suck.

Posted by: Steve Charb | April 17, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Teri B

What debate did you watch? I watched the one on ABC.

Posted by: Sueb2 | April 17, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

This debate was the most fair one yet. I liked that the responses were timed, and each were given an equal amount of time. I liked that the questions were staggered, and that they "flipped a coin" to see who would go first on opening and closings. I was impressed that both were challenged with tough questions and not allowed to wiggle out of fully answering.

ABC handled this debate in a very admirable way, and I think both candidates supporters should have been satisfied with the fairness of the debate, for a change. This is how journalists should handle debates. Both got hit with three very tough issues. Obama: Rev. Wright, his infamous "bitter" remarks, and his association with William Ayers. Clinton: Her Bosnia exaggeration, her purported statements that Obama was unelectable, and a public opinion poll about her honesty.

For his part, Obama rationalized, made excuses, stammered a lot, and declared the subjects absurd and a distraction from the issues. While Clinton apologized and ate a lot of crow for her "mistakes," describing her trip to Bosnia and got badgered into saying Obama is electable.

Their discussion of the issues wasn't anything all that new; however, Obama did stumble a bit on his position on payroll and capital gains taxes. My main observation is that Clinton was ASKED questions about her positions on Wright and Obama's bitter comments, and she responded, owning her position, while Obama hedged on the Bosnia question, admitting his "campaign" was hammering on it, "of course," yet somehow dodging personal responsibility for what his campaign is doing? That just seemed dishonest to me. If his campaign is doing it - HE is. I'd much rather see the candidates own their positions and actions, than try and appear above the fray, when their actions don't match the perception they're trying to falsely portray.

Posted by: Teri B. | April 17, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Gibson and Stephanopolis--what amazing feats of journalistic integrity, what, I can't even finish the joke. Obama handled himself extremely well considering he came under sniper fire...oh that was Hillary...We could have found out more about Bosnia or Ireland or Colombia or conflicts of interest or being fired from her job at the watergate hearings for lying and unethical behavior--only they never bothered to ask or follow up on her! I feel a primal scream coming on. This was the most disgusting joke of a debate I ever had the misfortune to watch. I will not watch an ABC "news" show again.

Posted by: Sueb2 | April 17, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

As usual, flimsy excuses. ABC gave new and good questions. I think we all have heard enough about health care, hope,etc which were brought up in past debates.

I think the Clinton credibility, Bosnia, Bitter, Wright and Ayres needed to be brought up. They certainly will be in the general election.

Posted by: concerned | April 17, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

What this debate had to do with the needs of the average voter is a huge mystery to me. Is this the big payback to Hillary for her claims that she has been mistreated? Hillary was so on her policy points that she made a huge mistake in discussing Israel and going to war. BUT NO ONE NOTICED? Better to worry about former weathermen. You may need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows if you watch ABC news. They can only show you the wind thats blowing from the garbage pile they love to make.

Posted by: nclwtk | April 17, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It was a debate balanced in Hillary's favor, but what else did anyone expect? Bill Clinton eased FCC regulations when he was president so the media conglomerates could form. GW Bush eased regulations even farther, and is still trying to push through legislation which will allow even larger monopolies. From the way the media has been attacking Obama over the past week about his "bitter" comment, I would wager a bet that Hillary has offered even more leniency towards media ownership regulations if she were elected president. The reporters we have today are getting eight figure salaries to read Whitehouse press releases from teleprompters with no effort involved, other than to please their handlers. They would hate to have to actually work for a living and do real journalism. They are all scared of what might happen if Barack is elected president, so now were watching a full court blitz against him. One must wonder what will happen in the FCC if he is elected president. Perhaps there will be a break-up like we saw with Ma Bell.

Posted by: MikeMcNally | April 17, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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