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Clashing Over Iraq

The war in Iraq -- long a dormant issue in the Democratic primary fight campaign -- roared back to relevance in tonight's debate as the two candidates clashed about whose experience better equipped them to face off against Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the general election.

"Senator Clinton equates experience with longevity in Washington," said Obama, adding that "on the critical issues that actually matter I believe my judgment has been sound and it has been superior to Senator Clinton and Senator McCain."

Clinton pushed back as hard as she has at any point in the campaign, arguing that Obama's original speech in opposition to the war was essentially a hollow act because he has done little to follow up since being elected to the Senate in 2004.

"He's to be commended for having given the speech," said Clinton. "When he came to the Senate he and I have voted exactly the same. When we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech it was action where is the difference?"

Clinton went on to list several major areas of disagreement she has with Obama on foreign policy. For example, she said, "last summer he basically threatened to bomb Pakistan, which I don't think was a very smart position to take."

Obama, showing he is up to the fight, launched a broadside of his own against Clinton -- arguing that her 2002 vote for the Iraq use-of-force resolution amounted to complicity with President Bush's misguided plans. "She was ready to give in to George Bush on day one on this critical issue," Obama said.

Tonight's debate so far -- we are a little more than halfway through -- has more than made up for the placid past two debates between the duo.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 26, 2008; 9:55 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: The Tough Questions...Courtesy of Russert

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Posted by: plsuzjx pigoqwsv | April 16, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm used to seeing HRC do well in the debates, but in this last one, Barack wiped the floor with HRC! She looked tired and defeated. What other's seem to view as the demeanor of a 'fighter' I saw as peeved, angry, and frustrated.

There were so many moments where HRC really tanked - the SNL thing, injecting herself into the Farrakhan thing, the 'bomb' Pakistan thing... just goes on.

Barack was brilliant with the 'reject and denounce' response. He was pitch perfect in giving HRC 'points' for humor, and then specifically discussing his larger point of inspiring people to come together. He was strong on all the issues (at least as strong as his opponent). And he pronounces 'Pakistan' correctly!

Posted by: debashish_sinha | February 27, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

There is no question that both candidates are saying they will be doing a cut-and-run strategy with respect to the Iraq War. That is something that is being telegraphed to every terrorist in the world.

Iran has made it clear, if you pay attention, that when that happens there will be a tribute to pay at the Strait of Hormuz by their kidnapping sailors at sea and challenging one of our warships in the strait. Not to worry.... The oil companies will just pass that extra cost off to US at the gas pump.

Those U.S. men and women in Iraq prefer to fight terrorism in the streets of Baghdad than the streets of Los Angles, Dallas, Miami, and New York.

When the military is rushed back to the US by the leader of Obama Nation, though, he will not think to put them on the Border. Unemployment will skyrocket while the Border leaks like a sieve.

SO, when the refineries go up in flames in Obama Nation, remember who cut and ran.

Posted by: omarkhyam1951 | February 26, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I think the fact that she is getting the first question is not a bias. It is a courtesy of ladies first. As a woman, I think that was whiny. If you are strong woman, you accept that is simply a courtesy.

Posted by: adonalson | February 26, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Clinton really missed her chance, she should have said if my pastor said and acted as Obama's did, I would have found another pastor and another church

Posted by: kathymac1 | February 26, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

"Med-ded-ve-dev...whatever." What???

Posted by: epinchicago | February 26, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Totally agree!!!!!!!

Posted by: bdfroms | February 26, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I think every Democrat should take a deep breath and read this:

Bamboozling the American electorate again

http://www.thecityedition.com/Pages/Archive/Winter08/2008Election.html

The Karl Rove Trojan horse of divide, conquer and destroy has worked quite well. These comments I'm sure make Rove proud. What a bunch of gullible people Obama/Rove supporters are.

Posted by: D3Haskins | February 26, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Clinton doesn't even know Putin's successor's name!

Posted by: CaptainJohn2525 | February 26, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

It puts me in mind of 'It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is,

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

LIKE A SCENE FROM THE MATRIX

Watching Obama parry Clinton's attempted attack over the difference between "reject" and "denounce" puts me in mind of the movie "The Matrix" where the hero Neo slows time and movement so that it is mere child's play for him to avoid being hurt.

Posted by: bdfroms | February 26, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare: Obama wins, Hillary whined incessantly.

NAFTA: Clinton - blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...

Jewish vote: Obama reflects on history, Clinton tries to interject her own struggle in NY state.

So far, the best line is Obama's: Bush, with Clinton's support, drove the bus into the ditch. It's now how to get it (the US) out of the ditch.

So far, Obama wins the debate.

Posted by: CaptainJohn2525 | February 26, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"hrc's try on the "reject" vs. "denounce" issue was awful, and then Obama's rebuttal was brilliant - an unforced error, and then a winner!"
-----avalle

Well put.

Posted by: toneye | February 26, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or is HRC getting crushed. I must say that this debate has been her worst. I usually give her the win in the debates.

Posted by: shanedenley | February 26, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

More and more, Americans are rejecting and renouncing Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

Integrity counts.

Individual responsibility is the key to government accountability.

Clean slate!
Barack Obama,
'08!

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 26, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

ah yes. Barack is secretly anti-semitic... now where did those kenyan pictures come from?

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

hrc's try on the "reject" vs. "denounce" issue was awful, and then Obama's rebuttal was brilliant - an unforced error, and then a winner!

Posted by: avalle | February 26, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

"Tim, I faced a similar situation...and it looked like I would pay a price for it...and I was willing to take that stand.." Gee, now she is trying to insert herself into his answers. "Please let me loook good too!!".

She is so losing this debate.

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

uhmm, Farakhan endorsed hillary during her senate run?

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

HRC not disclosing her tax returns and campaign funding....? can we spell C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N . (makes me recollect white-water)

It is hard for me to believe that she is a suitable candidate for the Democratic Party!?

Posted by: Jeremy7 | February 26, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, softballs? the ole' wright implication of kinda' sorta' anti-semitism...

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Haven't we had enough of the cannabalistic politics of the Clintons? They will eat their own party members when push comes to shove for power. Why in the world would we want to go back to another Clinton? The Clinton years were horrible. Not as bad as Bush, but non the less, they were horrible. They laid the ground work for many of the current problems. NAFTA, Subprime Mortgage, Immigration, Terrorism. Enough already. I could go on about the simple negativism of Clinton, but come on, vote for Obama.

Posted by: jimfronck | February 26, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Who won the MSNBC Democratic Debate in Cleveland Ohio?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1788

.

Posted by: PollM | February 26, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, softballs? the ole' wright implication of kinda' sorta' anti-semitism...

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

A bold face liar and that is why she is losing.

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

HRC got totally bombed on the tax return question. Not a good answer. I am an Obama supporter and glibbly admit that Russert crushed her with that question.
In other news, Barack turned it around on the questioner when Tim tried to crush him with that clip.

Posted by: toneye | February 26, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

um my staff is a little busy right now, uh half em are outside the NYTs, the rest on conference calls with the press complaining about the press, but I'll, um, get you those files, sometime soon...

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

She's urged expediency and transparency on her papers but needs time to get a tax return "together" that was filed years ago?

Posted by: epinchicago | February 26, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

too busy in one week to put together tax info that should already be completed? She's too busy? Doesn't she have a staff?

Posted by: avalle | February 26, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's whole notion of "since he [Obama] came to the Senate we've had the same record on Iraq...its not about words its actions" is such a misguided point.

Now that we're _in_ Iraq, our options are very limited. No legislator is going to cut funding for troops in the field--nor should they. And withdrawal is very complex, potentially leaving a power vaccuum that will either be filled by total chaos and civil war or a resurgent Iran. Either would devastate US credibility in the region for decades (if its possible for US credibility to go any lower...). Essentially there's little to be done other than find competent diplomatic and military leadership and let them execute on the ground. The time for true leadership was at the beginning, before we got into this mess, and Hillary didn't show it. What really concerns me is that I think Hillary was actually against the idea of invasion, but voted as she did because of political expediency and an interest to position herself as a centrist for her upcoming presidential campaign...her vote shows either weakness of character, naivete or poor judgment...there's really no believable way to spin it positively for her.

Posted by: akminstral | February 26, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

And what was that weird smile while listening to the question which she is now not answering. How can she say she is more open then anyone? And how can she say she doesn't have time to release them?

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

or even earlier?!

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

why not now?

Posted by: avalle | February 26, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh. Good. God.

Posted by: epinchicago | February 26, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

finally a question about transparency...

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

russert digging into her again - wow!

Posted by: avalle | February 26, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Finally the Tax Return issue is coming up. How will she answer???

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Is Hillary Clinton still in this debate?

Posted by: epinchicago | February 26, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

They aren't softball questions. He just answers better then she does.

And she is glaring again.

Posted by: dyork | February 26, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

This rebuttal to Clinton's "I voted this way, he voted that way" is Obama's strongest point in the debate thus far.

Posted by: epinchicago | February 26, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow, they were about to give Obama his "gotcha" question and they accidentally run the wrong tape, setting up another softball for Obama.

Gee, how did that happen?

Posted by: bobmoses | February 26, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

gosh, i could really use a pillow right now... hopefully someone can get me one soon enough.

Posted by: muaddib_7 | February 26, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

So far, I am not seeing anything that would make me support Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. SNL only reflects the general mood - we have a choice between one candidate who can win and unite the American people, and another who will only unite and energize the Republicans in November. Senator Obama is clearly preferable.

Posted by: karlanne1 | February 26, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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