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NPR's Democratic Debate: Winners and Losers

Seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Des Moines this afternoon for a radio debate sponsored by National Public Radio.

The debate focused exclusively on three issues: Iran (and the echoes of Iraq), China and immigration. The format was aimed at fostering in-depth discussion among the candidates and largely succeeded.

Despite having just landed from New Hampshire -- and fresh off the MTV/MySpace presidential forum with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last night -- The Fix tuned in, and even managed to come up with our winners and losers from the event.

As always, this is one man's opinion. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments section below.


John Edwards: In the debates to date, Edwards has wavered between two personas: effective critic and angry outsider. At times Edwards' strident critique against "the establishment" sizzles with populist brio. But, it can also occasionally come across as cranky and complaining -- not exactly the two leading traits that people want in a president. In today's debate, Edwards took on the effective critic persona. He sought to politely highlight what he called real divides between himself and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) on Iran, and largely kept his focus on the mistakes made by the Bush Administration. Edwards was also able to hold his own when the debate turned to China -- demonstrating that he does indeed have some heft on foreign policy.

Joe Biden/Chris Dodd: It's no secret that Biden and Dodd have chafed against their lack of speaking time in the debates to date. In this debate, both were given considerably more time to make their points, and they did so effectively. Biden seemed to be channeling John McCain circa 2000, repeatedly telling listeners it was time to talk straight about issues. And, the focus on foreign policy allowed Biden to flex his knowledge on the issues and tout his time at the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Dodd lent the event its lone real moment of levity when he assured the debates' moderators that his children would not be receiving toys from China but rather toys from Iowa. Dodd also spoke authoritatively on the issue of immigration, even forcing Biden at one point to defer to his deeper knowledge on the issue.


Hillary Clinton: Here's the problem for the junior Senator from New York: Despite the fact that polling in Iowa shows her in tight race with Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), her rivals for the nomination still treat her as though she is the frontrunner. On Iran, she took incoming from all sides -- Obama and Edwards accused her of attempting to distort their past statements, while Dodd and Biden castigated Clinton for her vote in favor of the now infamous Kyl-Lieberman amendment that designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Clinton was also hurt by the topics chosen by NPR; on Iran and immigration she has taken considerable flack for her positions; her strongest issue, health care, was left out of the mix.

Mike Gravel: It's just hard to see why the former Alaska Senator continues to make the cut for these debates. He is an asterisk in every state and national poll we've seen, has raised next to nothing, and seems to believe his role in these gatherings is to serve as the resident crank.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 4, 2007; 5:04 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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re digitboy:
You say, "Was Kucinich even at the debate?" If he was, he was too homely and short and honest and smart to bear mention. He's too homely even for radio, the media won't give him time except to deride him and remark on what a babe his wife is.
A man who dragged himself up by his bootstraps, a la Lincoln, lived homeless in a car w/ his Mom as a boy, is just not presidential material.

Like I say, his words coming from Hillary's or Edwards' or Obama's lips would be treasured and displayed and commented over amtens to content. It's all a ridiculous American Idol thing.

Or maybe some Mainstream Honcho can explain why those three have been placed in the center podiums from the very beginning? What's wrong with rotating that position? Or alphabetical order? Gosh, don't tell me it's a coincidence? Even a coin toss wouldn't come up like that so many times in a row.

The press are ACTIVELY SUPPRESSING some candidates in favor of others. Now they are creating a little excitement by letting others "go after" Hillary. What a predictable little script.
I've seen better movies than this one.
It's garbage.

Posted by: KentL1 | December 7, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Was Kucinich even at the debate? Wouldn't know it from your report. Fascist MS Media!

Posted by: digitboy | December 6, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

bsimon -- I don't think you and I disagree about the Craig case. Sex in public is against the law. So is solicitation for sex if it involves an exchange of money. The problem here is that, at best, the government can prove that Craig was propositioning someone for sex through code. I don't see any evidence that Craig was proposing sex in public or offering money for sex. Absent proof of one of those two things, the government doesn't have a case. After all, the burden of proof is theirs.

Apologies if it sounded as if I was attacking your views -- I wasn't and have no doubts regarding your respect for the First Amendment. :)

Posted by: _Colin | December 6, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I predict that no homely man (as Lincoln was) will ever be nominated.
If a less than handsome woman is, it will be just this once, for the star power of being first woman presidential candidate.
Since the very beginning, Clinton and Edwards and Obama were placed in the middle of the ranks. The media decided they would be the stars. They have been asked all the questions. There has not been equal time, therefore the the voters, long long before the primaries, were deprived equal access to the ideas and opinions and plans of the others.
We are now deciding based on who was highest in the polls years ago, and that has to do with money, not smarts. Had voters been given equal access, we MIGHT have different poll results by now. But between Americans and the press both preferring superficial looks over substance, the reality that only money -- not merit -- buys access to everything (reflecting our true values), and the media having become strictly interested in entertainment over thought, reflection, balanced coverage, or the simple facts, we really have no meaningful choice.
And when people tell me I "wasted" my vote by not voting for a someone with a predetermined chance to win, I can say, "You needn't even have bothered voting at all -- you could have just stayed in your meadow, baaa baaa baa." I hope someone like Ralph Nader on one side and whoever on the other blows the game for both sides.
The sheep pooh-pooh Biden, ex. though they might say his answers are better. And C.E.O. would be in the middle and the frontrunners even if Kucinich's words had been coming out their mouths all this time.
This isn't democracy, this is televisocracy. Baaa baaa baaaa.

Posted by: KentL1 | December 5, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The new NIE was prepared by a special group of experts assembled to analyze intelligence from Iran. They were also provided a bit more information on sources than past practice in order to help them evaluate the reliability of the intelligence.

I have read that the administration was really only believing intelligence on Iraq that validated their preconceptions. Of course that is a very human trait.

Posted by: jimd52 | December 5, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes writes
"bsimon evidently only believes in the 1st amendment if it passes his muster."

To which argument do you refer? Are you disputing my characterization of libel and slander laws as appropriately restricting free speech?

I realize its hopeless to expect a coherent argument from you, but I'll ask anyway.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The planted question has come up on a couple other blogs, and it appears that the young lady was an Obama supporter. Who cares anyway??

Posted by: lylepink | December 5, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"I believe the idea is that IF Craig's foot tapping and gesures constituted solicitation, those actions are nonetheles legal b/c it's not a crime to solicit sex."

But it is illegal to engage in sexual acts in public - for instance, in airport restrooms. If a person solicits another for sex in public is that legal? Solicitation for paid sex is not - because paid sex is not legal. If public sex is illegal, should solicitation for public sex likewise be illegal? Or should we just elect Ron Paul and legalize it?!?!

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I was driving around and listened to some of the Iran conversation, a great deal of China and some of the immigration debate.

Edwards was effective, but since I am knowledgeable about economics (or insane according to some) I totally disagree with him on economic issues. I find Edwards a total lightweight.

Biden and Dodd were far and away the most impressive.

soonerthought - I devoutly wish Biden to surge in the polls, I just have seen no concrete evidence of it

Kucinich is an effective spokesman for his point of view. I vehemently disagree with him and would vote for almost any Republican against him if lightening were to strike and he got the nomination.

I agree that Biden-McCain race would be uplifting, a Clinton-Giuliani race would reach new lows in dirt.

Posted by: jimd52 | December 5, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

bsimon evidently only believes in the 1st amendment if it passes his muster. That not how it works my Nazi friend. 1st amendement was designed Specifically to protect any offensive speech. Yes there is limitations and its not absolute but it applies to blogs and media outlets. Maybe its lies to you but the truth to them. As attorneys like to say everybody is entitled to their version of the truth. BSIMON: I support the ACLU because its protect the public from people like you.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Looking at what the ACLU apparently said at the Senator's press conference, I see what you were getting at. But I believe the idea is that IF Craig's foot tapping and gesures constituted solicitation, those actions are nonetheles legal b/c it's not a crime to solicit sex. It's only a crime to solicit sex for money.

Posted by: _Colin | December 5, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

_Colin writes
"I don't think it was "speech" that they're concerned with in Craig's case. It's the idea that he was charged with a crime b/c of what he was purportedly thinking."

Firstly, I admit I am not up to date on the case. However, what I recall from the ACLU's initial involvement with the case, was that they submitted a friend of the court brief arguing that the airport cops' practice of interpreting toe tapping & gesturing as an invitation to participate in lewd behavior is a restriction on protected speech. Given the vagaries of human memory & journalists' abilities to accurately represent legal briefs implies that I could be off base here.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

bsimon -- I don't think it was "speech" that they're concerned with in Craig's case. It's the idea that he was charged with a crime b/c of what he was purportedly thinking. He didn't have sex in public or expose himself. He didn't explicitly proposition anyone, and even if he did that's not illegal unless there's money involved. I doubt the government could have convicted him if he'd gone to trial.

At all events, I agree that the ACLU should be applauded for following their mission irrespective of who the players are. I often disagree with the ACLU, with respect to campaign finance, for example, but appreciate their principles. My favorite example is when ow DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Nortion represented a white supremacist group in front of the S. Crt when she was working for the ACLU -- and won.

Posted by: _Colin | December 5, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Who won the NPR Democratic Debate in Des Moines Iowa?


Posted by: jeffboste | December 5, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Colin writes
"I understand that Senator Craig is now a big supporter of theirs, so Republicans are welcome to donate..."

I recall the ACLU also involved itself on behalf of Rush Limbaugh - in an effort to protect the privacy of patients' medical records when he was in legal jeopardy over his drug habit.

While I find their participation in the Craig case a bit misdirected (toe tapping as 'protected speech'? Why do they ignore his invasion of privacy while peering through the crack in the stall door?), I generally applaud their diligence in pursuing their mission - regardless of the actual people involved.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Biden takes the cake, and Hillary has the cake shoved up her a**. I missed the debate, but I read the transcript.

The reason Gravel is important and should be included in ALL of the debates is that he provides an alternative (no matter how crazy, senile, or sensible) to the usual slew of politics. He shows the people that there is something else, that they're not stupid for thinking most politicians moronic. Also, he was the first to blow the whistle on Hillary's Kyl-Lieberman vote in the early debates, to which Edwards and Obama caught on, and he provides attacks against all of the candidates which they are forced to consider and issue rebuttal. He is a devil's advocate in this sense; he is representing the average American voter who truly thinks for themselves and is (justifiably) skeptical of the current infrastructure of Washington.

Hillary came off as a know-nothing sheep, providing absolutely nothing to the debate except lame defenses. I can't stand her weasel-y speaking any more than Bush's.

Those who criticize Obama's speaking "haltingly," I consider this a plus for him, as it doesn't seem he is reading off a cue card; there is something actually going on in his gifted mind besides memorization. I don't agree with some of his views on immigration, but his openness with diplomatic relations and his domestic policies ring true for me.

Edwards was good, but I don't personally like him... he just seems so insincere and I question his constantly reiterated dedication to the middle class.

Biden's too good to be true and too modest and low-key. Americans like flashiness. I hope he ends up anywhere in the next administration. If Hillary is getting her a** handed to her by the time Maryland gets around, I'll vote for Biden. If not, I'll vote for who ever's in second place.

Dodd could have a place in the administration as well; his grasp of immigration is stellar.

I voted for Kucinich once before, but he is not what we need now. He comes off as comedic relief, but his recent front-runner bashing isn't helping him in my opinion. He should garner strength behind his own views and build an organization akin to Ron Paul's if he wants any chance at all.

The format was amazing. In depth questions, competent moderators, relatively fair distribution of time, and the lack of an audience made this the best debate yet.

I took the candidate quiz thing and came up dead even for Obama, Edwards, and Dodd. I wish all of the candidates had been included. I hope Americans wake up like Iowans have.

Posted by: schencks84 | December 5, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes -- I agree, the cure for offensive speech is more rather than less speech. Which means that it's important to note when someone is lying and/or spouting bigoted and hateful speech. grayce101's "opinion" certainly qualifies as both. Should I assume you'll be making a contribution to the ACLU this year? I understand that Senator Craig is now a big supporter of theirs, so Republicans are welcome to donate... :)

Posted by: _Colin | December 5, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

After just taking WashPo's 'candidate quiz', I discovered a major flaw in much of this fanaticism to find 'winners and losers' and the NPR debate also validated my point:
--the selection process now is more about the messenger, and not so much the message.
And I think the drastic shift in the polls are reflecting that same realization.

Verbally, each side's front runners vary only slightly from one another when you compare the top issues. So now what?

When Iran says they don't have WMD's and Bush says they do - we've finally learned to rely on believability and precedent to find the truth.
That's what voters usually do in the closing moments before an election.

My quiz results came out in favor of Clinton over Obama by 1 point. So you might be able to say 'Clinton is the winner'.
But believability and precedent have already settled the matter of who I must vote for.

Posted by: hazmaq | December 5, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

A troll is a troll. Best ignored.

Posted by: cdavidj | December 5, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"How can you be a real Dem and support somebody's viewpoint being muzzled."

That's a false argument. He wasn't arguing that someone's VIEWS should be muzzled, he was arguing that someone's LIES should be muzzled. 'Free Speech' does not extend to libelous or slanderous commentary - and thus the laws against such behavior. Come to think of it, he wasn't even arguing for muzzling, he was arguing for correcting. But the point stands.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

As a strong Hillary supporter, I also found the comments by grayce101 offensive, but that is her right to express an opinion. Iowa is the big story on most news outlets, and I am just a little bit puzzled as to how so few people have so much power in both parties selection for their POTUS nominee. I seem to think I read somewhere around 100,000 are expected to turn out and this doesn't seem right to me. Hope someone has a more accurate figure.

Posted by: lylepink | December 5, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Mattmazz; I trust the citizenry to sort it all out. How can you be a real Dem and support somebody's viewpoint being muzzled. It's what makes this a Great country, everybody has a right to be a stupid bigot if they want just as long they don't act their hate. I'm a conservative but I bet the ACLU agrees with me.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"Mike Huckabee has taken the lead in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll."

Thanks for catching that, Mike.

So much for the Youtube debate being 'flawed.' It was what it was, and given that nothing else of import has happened (???) the results were enormously helpful to Huckabee. Expect more attacks on CNN from the VWRC and Faux News invoking the usual "kill the messenger" mode

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 5, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I also wanted to note that the comment posted by graysce101 serves only to pollute the dialog and is an prime example of how we ended up with someone like GW Bush as President in the first place. For the good of the country, completely unfounded rumors and accusations such as the Muslim allegiance attack line should be squashed by the media immediately if it truly wants to serve the public and allow for an informed electorate.

Posted by: mattmazz | December 5, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Mike Huckabee has taken the lead in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll.

Huckabee - 20%
Giuliani - 17%
McCain - 13%
Romney - 13%
Thompson - 10%

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 5, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

HRC needs to remind people that the majority of democratic senators voted for the kyl-lieberman amendment. Whenever her running mates assail her for it it makes it look like she is alone in her vote, but she was not at all. I wish she had given a clearer explanation for her vote, but she did not. I think that's why she did not do well there, b/c with everyone saying she was wrong for the vote, and her having nothing to say for herself, it made her look pretty bad.

Posted by: jessi_lc | December 5, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Biden certainly did better in this format. Some of his statements were off the mark/wrong ("I hereby invoke the wrath of the Biden faithful!") but this was the same grandstanding exaggeration that ALL the candidates employ to call more attention to themselves.

Anybody know many people were listening? A couple dozen?

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 5, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I believe Grayce101 is working for the Hillary campaign. The internet version of push polling. I Totally agree with Drindl, Gray's comments are offensive but that's why we have a 1st amendment, to protect speech that most people find disgusting.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

'--Muslim blood. His father was a Muslim

--refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He did not want to offend ISLAM so he refused'

gray, whatever your name is, you say you are a democrat? Not in my book. This was one of the most obnoxious and disgusting, not mention full of lies, post I ever read. I am more offended than I can say. I am at this moment writing an email to the CC, asking you be banned from ever posting here again. Your lies, your smears, your racism, is intolerable.

Posted by: drindl | December 5, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

graysce101 -- Is it fun being a bigot? Do you think your racism causes you to believe unsubstaniated lies about people, or is your tendency to believe unsubstantiated lies one of the causes of your racism? Oh, so many questions spring to mind based upon your "brilliant" post.

Posted by: _Colin | December 5, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I am an Obama supporter, he has intrigued me ever since the Dem convention speech and even further so upon reading Dreams from My Father. That being said one thing that I have noticed is the considerable amount of stammering that seems to be habitual to Barack and really does sound bad in a debate format. Obviously a superficial note but I wonder how this effects the overall perception of his performances.

Posted by: mattmazz | December 5, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Why OBAMA can not be trusted?

--Muslim blood. His father was a Muslim
--tried to change his identity. Muslim's sons are Muslims for life
--refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He did not want to offend ISLAM so he refused
--claims he's running on his record
-- had 17 years' old unpaid parking tickets
--made personal "questionable" investments
--insisted that his health care provides care to everyone, does he know what universal means?
--a fabulous orator, but we need more than words....
--he says one thing and does another
--claimed that as a young boy who lived in overseas for 10 years made him an expert of foreign affairs.
--will meet with enemies without preconditions
--always say nice things to make him look good, but where is your agenda?
--recruited out of state non-Iowan residents to vote for him on Jan 3.
--he said that he was not taking money from the Lobbyists. Yeah right?
--playing old politics as usual, after he promised hope and change....
--AWOL for an IRAN vote in the Senate.
--too ambitious with little accomplishments
--inexperience, we need a doer not a talker

Fellow Democrats, please be smart and don't be fooled by this PHONY ROOKIE. He is a totally a joke. If he is the Democrat nominee, there will be an asterisk on his name, and the Republican will eat him alive. The Democrat will lose again...

Posted by: graysce101 | December 5, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Condi Rice is a consumer and customer of the same flawed intelleinge, as the President. Drindl seems to be a Biden fan which tells me she wants to win next year. Obama has a chance but his lack of foreign policy experience could cost him the election if something bad happened whereas Biden has plenty of experience and seems to be the most knowelegble Dem when it comes to Iraq. Of course that's not saying much.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I listened to the entire debate and agree with the analysis above.

Clinton was at a distinct disadvantage as she was seated in first position and was asked to answer most questions first without the benefit of time to triangulate.

On Iran she called "foul" at Edwards - but Edwards did a good job of following up about legitimate differences. The last question was about which issue the candidate still was seeking guidance on - she was caught totally without any talking points and whiffed - the moderator even came back to her and stated would she like another chance since all the other candidates but her managed to answer the question.

The timing of the NIE and the 1/3 allocation to Iran made HRC the big loser!!

In general it was a very well run debate, with Kucinich sounding like the most aggressive candidate and Gravel seemed like he was missing a few marbles.

Posted by: weinbob | December 5, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

claudialong: You are forgetting the one thing GW has going for him in any hearing held by the House or Senate, it is that little old thing called "Executive Privilege". There is no way the American people will ever know what really happened unless one of these folks gets so sick and tired of what they have done and are doing, they just can't live with themselves. Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: lylepink | December 5, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I think its wrong to say that HRC and Obama were "losers" in the NPR debate. Aside from Gravel, all of the candidates acquitted themselves well.

I don't think any of the candidates treated this as an opportunity to "change the game," so unlike Philly and Las Vegas, we got a fairly detailed conversation. As a dad, I particularly appreciated the discussion on product safety, since that topic has been asked in previous debates but butchered by CNN.

Obama, as one commenter mentioned, has a radio-perfect voice. In this medium, his is the most comfortable persona. You can't mark him down as a "loser" in this format.

Since no one chose to draw sharp distinctions, I think that persons supporting each of the three frontrunners will only be reinforced by the performances yesterday.

I agree that Dodd and Biden helped themselves. Without the stage management of the TV debates, they were able to show their mastery of several key issues. I think Biden was particularly appealing to an Iowa public radio audience when he made his pitch that he was not just opposed to a "rush to war," he was opposed to war, period, when it came to Iran. Best line of the day.

If I had to name a winner -- Biden on substance, Obama on style. But it was by no means a bad performance by anyone but Gravel, who is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.

Posted by: mriccardi1962 | December 5, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I listened to the debate and have listened to most of the other debates so far. I believe Joe Biden did the best job yesterday. I disagree about Edwards. He comes across as a whiner! I have felt that Hillary has done a good job in most every debate, except perhaps the one in Philly. Obama held his own yesterday. I fail to see why Gravel and Kucinich continue to be allowed to participate since they only take time away from those candidates who actually have a shot at winning. (I really don't think the other "second tier" candidates have much shot either.)

One thing that seems clear to me in listening to the analysis following each of the debates so far is the anti-Clinton bias of the reporters. However, if she gets the nomination, as I believe she will, it may be a good thing that she will be battle-tested and ready for the Republican onslaught she will undoubtedly face.

I have still to make up my mind between Hillary and Barack. I like both and believe the dream ticket would have both on it. (I don't think that is very likely though.) But to me the bottom line is any Democrat would be a welcome relief after eight years of the person in the White House now.

Posted by: dle1117 | December 5, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

claudia, on that subject, I didn't have time to read the whole article but our local paper picked up an NYT piece that discussed WHO wrote the NIEs that were, shall we say, loose with facts, in 2005 & previously; whereas the new report on Iran's nuke program has new authors & was written after the new director of intelligence was appointed.

Regarding "Joe Biden has credibility across the board and would be possibly the only person running for president who could unite this country," I think he is one of several candidates who could make progress towards that goal.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Mark, thanks for that explanation; it seems to rely on more white folks being in the pool than black folks. I don't want to divert this thread down that path, but it certainly prompts many more questions.

Posted by: bsimon | December 5, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

How arcane is the legal profession--fascinating.

Bhoomes, because I fear that Huckabee has preconceptions about the ME that will be hard to shake. For instance, he said that all Palestinians should be deported to Saudi Arabia, which is not only naive, it's just plain insane.

Now, I had to post this -- because it astonished me. I can't imagine I could ever agree with anything either Scarborough or Buchanan said, but I do. It also brings home the fact that Joe Biden has credibility across the board and would be possibly the only person running for president who could unite this country:

'So this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough had Pat Buchanan on the phone to discuss the recent NIE revelations about Iran, and Bush's pathetic performance yesterday in saying that he didn't find out about it until just now. Both Pat and Joe were absolutely incredulous at that statement.

Buchanan went one step further. He said Joe Biden needs to get back to Washington and HOLD HEARINGS on who knew what, and when. He actually called on Biden to haul Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ask them if they knew about the NIE report, and if they had ever told Bush.

Pat and Joe were both adamant that if either of those two knew about this report, and didn't let the President know about it, they should be fired immediately. And if they DID tell Bush, and yet Bush still went on warmongering with the knowledge that Iran had stopped its nuclear program in 2003..."

Posted by: drindl | December 5, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse


You asked, elsewhere,
why defense attorneys do not exercise their peremptory challenges based on race.

Juror selection is actualy juror rejection. To seat a 12 person capital jury, the County might call 60 to the panel to be seated at random. If no one is challenged "for cause" the last 22-24 persons seated become irrelevant, because each side gets 12 peremptory challenges. 12+12+12=36.
Peremptories are struck at the end of voir dire, each side blind to the other, and double strikes are considered wasted by both lawyers. Experienced lawyers, striking their least favored 12, actually seldom double strike more than two - usually the crossed strikes were considered by both lawyers to be "nulls".

It is easy for the prosecutor to strike all 6 black prospective jurors in the first four rows and arithmetically impossible for the defense to strike 31-33 white folks.

On a capital jury panel, 60 might be called instead of, say, 44, because there will be many challenges for cause during voir dire.
"Cause" strikes are additional to "peremptories." Most important here, the prosecution will challenge anyone who does not believe in the death penalty FOR CAUSE because s/he is unfit to serve on a death penalty jury, having already made up his/her mind. The defense can sometimes rehab those jurors
by citing the extreme cases - and then getting the prospect to admit that "in a proper case, in the jurors' mind, s/he could give the death penalty." Some jurors refuse to be rehabilitated, and the defense's best jurors get struck for cause.

I apologize to everyone else, but bsimon's good question was not answered where and when it should have been.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Drindl I do not understnad why you find Huckabee so scary. He's seems to me extremely well grounded and rational. While I do not support some of his ideas(taxes,smoking laws)I feel fairly comfortable with him. I do agree his Foreign Policy experience is lacking but he is a quick learner. Remember Lincoln was just a 1 termer in Congress before getting elected but was a quick learner.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

To all those that say John Edwards does not answer the questions please check this out:

Also, how many of the other candidates have and 80+ page book out detailing their stand on the issues as well as detailing their plans... IN WRITING???? GO JOHN GO!

Posted by: gjgoeders | December 5, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Mike Gravel makes these debates very interesting. This link makes him even more funny.

Posted by: kperegoy | December 5, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

' BUSH's biggest mistake was not firing a bunch of people after faulty intelligience. '

Wll you're right about that.

The faulty intelligence that got us into Iraq did not come from the CIA or other traditioal groups but from a special group formed by Dick Cheney -- the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, which included Douglas Feith, Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, among othrs, who ignored the official intelligence and pushed for a much harder line against Iraq and used specious and undocumented evidence--like the lies of the scheming criminal Ahmed Chalabi --to push for war.

Posted by: drindl | December 5, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Something that I find scary about Huckabee -- his views on foreign policy are more concerned with protecting Israel than the US. And this from Politico. He was asked about the new NIE yesterday afternoon and he hadn't heard about it. I knw he's busy, but...

'Kuhn: What is your concern on Iran as of now?

Huckabee: I've a serious concern if they were to be able to weaponize nuclear material, and I think we all should, mainly because the statements of Ahmadinejad are certainly not conducive to a peaceful purpose for his having it and the fear that he would in fact weaponize it and use it. (He pauses and thinks) I don't know where the intelligence is coming from that says they have suspended the program or how credible that is versus the view that they actually are expanding it. ... And I've heard, the last two weeks, supposed reports that they are accelerating it and it could be having a reactor in a much shorter period of time than originally been thought.'

He's heard 'supposed reports' that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program? Really? From whom, Dick Cheney? He chooses to beleive the exact opposite of what ALL our best intelligence says? It sounds like exactly the kind of thinking that got us into Iraq.

Posted by: drindl | December 5, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

THANKS TO THE NIE: Because of your inability to properly analyse intelligience,IRAN WILL NOW BE A NUCLEAR POWER. If you want to talk about a creditbility problem its start with the CIA. How can President's, be they Democrat or Republican effectively make War & Peace decisions when they cannot trust the reliability of the NIE. BUSH's biggest mistake was not firing a bunch of people after faulty intelligience. They probably just relied on Isaeli intelligience because it saved them a lot of work. I have no idea whether this current NIE is correct or not but it pretty much guarentees Iran plenty of room to pursue their nuclear ambitions without economic sanctions.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

That is what I like about NPR -- fact checking. They recognize that there are such things as actual 'facts' and 'realities' and call out candidates who lie, while most of the rest of the media simply jots down what the candidates say, no matter how preposterous, without bothering to check its validity.

Sort of what Larry Craig said recently -- a 'he said, he said' kind of dynamic. Yes, he did say that.

Posted by: drindl | December 5, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Chris: your fundamental approach is wrong. This was a good discussion and the candidates had time. In the end no one stood out. Lots of plus and minuses. A pity that Biden and Dodd are not going to rise to the top given their depth on the issues. I don't see much point in having Kucinich and Gravel around. They are going nowhere, can take absolutist positions on which they will never have to deliver and their time could have been used by the remaining candidates.

Now to my opening comment: as a seasoned reporter it surprises me that you fall so readily into the horse race mentality. Like many of your MSM colleagues you have little confidence in discussing the broad tactical implications of a candidates strategy and the answers that help them get there. And on policy issues I have not seen much commentary because that is hard work. So in the end it is all about optics, about style over substance. Like Matthews, Russert and others you have to have a leader and then you gleefully tell us that the others are pulling him/her down. Now that may be great for the race course. But here, where we are looking at a candidate for the office of President we should have a format which allows them to develop their arguments and for others to respond. After the MSM's disastrous coverage of Bush and Gore some humility may be helpful.

Posted by: bitterpill8 | December 5, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Last post:

Listening to NPR do "fact checking" on the debate over breakfast, I am hearing a LOT of
facts being "checked."

I hope they put this on line for those of you who are not hearing this.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

ebabin, I posted the cite to the audio and to the transcript just for you and your friends who should not rely on the reports of others.

Do not complain about others actually having opinions, the cure for speech you disagree with is more speech, not less.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I just came across a online poll by my local TV station. Hillary 34.5-Rudy 17.2-Ron Paul 13.8-Mike 10.3-Edwards & Thompson 6.9-Biden, Obama & Mitt 3.4-McCain,Hunter,Kucinich,Dodd,Gravel,Trancredo, and Richardson 00%.Very interesting to say the least. There is no date on it, but I am pretty sure it was sometime last week bfore the Mitt and Rudy scandals were fully reported.

Posted by: lylepink | December 5, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Oh joy, since most of world had to work and could not listen, we have to rely on you commentators to tell us who won/lost. The usual scenario: Hillary stunk and poster boy ________ (fill in the blank) won.

Posted by: ebabin | December 5, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Edwards has, at all of his appearances in Iowa, and would, given more than a few seconds in debates, detailed his plans in each area. In fact, in his public appearances he answers every question by first stating his position and then saying, and now let me tell you how I'm going to do that. The pamphlet he put out in Iowa is the only detailed written position "paper" out there.

Posted by: BJLeone | December 5, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

The full transcript is at

You no longer need be a subscriber to the NYT, but you may need to sign up.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

I misstated about the written transcript - that is the record of a question not heard on the debate, at all.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

You can listen to the debate on your computer.

I listened to the parts I missed and will add that I thought Obama has a good radio voice but still tends to speak as if he is choosing his words - OK with me, but called "halting" by my sister and femalenick, among others. HRC did stay poised. DK poses as the Lone Ranger, singlehandedly fighting for peace and impeachment - wanting to obtain our agreement with his causes by the heat of his emotion. A bridge destroyer, not a bridge builder, by personality; even if I agreed with him I would be frightened by his self-righteousness.

The transcript is at

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 5, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

My own informal poll based on the dems i know is that Joe Biden will be the John Kerry of Iowa. Some female friends had initially supported Hillary but now see her as a clear loser in November and are now supporting Biden. If the dems nominate Biden (not withstanding his Niel Kinnock talking points) thet will most likely win in November. If they nominate Hillary they will most surely lose because she is just not likable and most american's do not want that nasty *itch in their homes for 4 years.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 5, 2007 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Correcting the story re Obama's failure to vote on Kyl-Lieberman is like playing whack-a-mole, but let's try again. Pay attention, children.

A day or so previously, Obama checked with Reid on the timetable for voting,before he hit the campaign trail. Reid assured him there was nothing imminent, and that it would be weeks or months before it would be voted on. On that basis, Obama left for NH, whereupon Reid called the matter up for Senate action.

I won't speculate on Reid's motives, but the net result was that Barack was sand-bagged by his own party leader. When he says he made a 'mistake' by campaigning, that's a polite was of saying that he made a mistake in taking Reid at his word.

The HRC fanatics should go back to the kindergarten essay to get their jollies. That at least can be passed off as humor. As for the nonsense about male commentators ganging up on poor Hillary, that is truly delusional. From time to time, commentators do indeed act as if they're on a feeding frenzy, but they're equal opportunity predators. HRC is getting the action now because she and her campaign have created a series of incredible gaffes by playing into a pre-existing and negative story line.

Posted by: zoot1 | December 5, 2007 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Chris, it continues to amaze me how you can leave out an honest, principled, and hard-working guy like Kucinich out of all your coverage. Apparently you would like to eliminate candidates one at a time to make the job easier on the voters; you might as well let us know who's going to win.

Maybe, maybe just once, you could point out that Kucinich is the only candidate offering complete genuine universal health CARE (not the OPPORTUNITY to PAY for INSURANCE). He's the only one who voted against the war and voted against funding for the Iraq war. And polling in 4th-5th place in New Hampshire, he deserves some virtual column-inches.

Posted by: yangsta | December 5, 2007 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Mark thanks for the heads up. Was about to go to bed.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 5, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is now well positioned to take Iowa, just as he was all along, despite all of the media's attempts to bury him.

Posted by: snunes | December 5, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

At this point in the game, it seems to me that discussions on who's up and who's down is pretty pointless. The average person will always figure out a way to defend the performance of his or her candidate -- or worse, slam the one they hate the most. It's all about the prism from which you view ANY situation.

Posted by: femalenick | December 4, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

The best single performance was Biden on Iran.

It just helps to be right.

Posted by: bamyers | December 4, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I loved the format and was pretty impressed by all of the candidates except Gravel. At times you almost forget the heated campaign going on around them and could hone in on the variations in their positions.

I thought it was Obama, not Dodd, who joked about getting his kids toys from Iowa this xmas. In any case it was a genuinely funny crack. He, Biden and Dodd all did well, were able to make practical and complex policy statements, showing their respective oratory abilities and making it sound like a genuine debate(!) rather than a campaign sideshow.

Edwards did do well but was evasive when pressed about how to level the playing field with China. Frankly all of the answers are necessarily a bit glib in that China is a very complex situation.

HRC did not shine but her tenor was calm and in control, not at all grating as I thought it might be, and she held her own. At one point Steve Inskeep tried to pin her down on a question about requiring citizens reporting illegal immigrants and she immediately called him on having set up a clever trick question, and went on to answer it, which was a swift and natural response.

Posted by: bamyers | December 4, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Gwenmand | December 4, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

MarkinAustin: I said a long time ago the 2000 smear is nothing compared to what is out there ready to be used if and when his opponents choose to do so, I have also stated it would not be used unless it is the only thing left to stop him. The way thing looks now I hope and pray it will never see the light of day.

Posted by: lylepink | December 4, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse


I'm not sure you have been paying attention to the campaign, because Edwards has by far the most detailed policies in this race. Even the Economist has noted that he has driven the debate on the Democratic side. Also, Obama has co-opted many of Edwards' positions, so I don't see how his approach is more realistic.

Posted by: brettb3 | December 4, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

lyle, for months you have been predicting McCain would drop out - why?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 4, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

FYI: Just in--Mitt has just fired some illegal workers at his home. Couple this with the recent trouble Rudy has been having, and this could almost guarantee Mike the Repub nomination if McCain drops out, as I have thought he would at some time, and backs Mike.

Posted by: lylepink | December 4, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Mike, I used your name in vain on the previous thread a few minutes ago.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 4, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

You seem to have forgotten the fact Obama did not vote on Iran resolution.Have you forgotten that you are supposed to be a journalist.

Posted by: centauri99_99 | December 4, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

By your logic, Chris, Mike Gravel should be characterized as a winner. _Even though_ he's a giant zero, he just got a bigger national audience than most current or former Senators will get all year.

(Not that I actually support him; just wanted to point that out.)

Posted by: sym3 | December 4, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Why is healthcare the junior NY Senator's strongest issue, when she couldn't get it done while in the White House, with a Democrat-controlled Congress?

I can once again see myself voting for Biden, depending on the R.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 4, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Your logic is so weird. Mrs. Clinton took a position which was attacked by the other candidates and your inference is she lost because her position was attacked. That is the most asinine thing that I ever heard.

Posted by: centauri99_99 | December 4, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a two person race so Obama won. Hillary had a bad day, she got hit a lot and was on the defensive and almost none of her criticism came from her chief opponent Obama. He got to take the high road. She was also unable to hit him with anything.

Posted by: julian9682 | December 4, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I do not agree with your assessment at all. I feel it is very biased. You are a regular on Chris Matthews show where the agends is Hillary bashing. You have no credability.

Posted by: centauri99_99 | December 4, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I think Barack Obama came out a winner by virture of the fact that Hillary came out a loser and substantivly he was on the right side of every issue. Plus, he has a distinctive voice that works well in an intimate setting like radio.

I thought Biden broke through in the debates early with his push-back at Hillary.

I think that Clinton was not effective in the exchanges she had and did not win any of them; but she came across well for all of that.

Over all I don't think anything happened to change the dynamic of the race and Clinton didn't try to hit anyone as she has on the trail as of late.

I loved the format. I like the fact that substance played an integral part and we got to hear the breadth of knowledge these candidates have; and that actually really helped Obama in my opinion. He came across as more than equal to anyone in the room despite the attempts to diminish him in past debates.

I enjoyed it. I came out of it strongly for Obama or Biden. I think Edwards is to much a protectionist in my opinion; or at least is playing one on the campaign trail this time around. Dodd brought up an interesting point how Edwards voted for the China trade bill; I didn't know that before today.

Posted by: Rhoda | December 4, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse


Firstly, this forum for debate was mature, laudable.
Secondly, I think you may find some overlap between your characterization, and my own.

Winners of the debate:
-Joe Biden: -On Iran: A -On China: B -On Immigration: B
Comments: Sen. Biden and Gov. Richardson are clearly the most knowledgable candidates, of either party, on matters of foreign policy. This fact becomes obvious anytime the candidates debate foreign policy, like adults. Sen. Biden also sounded very pragmatic on China & immigration.
-Chris Dodd: -On Iran: B+ -On China: B- On Immigration: A
Comments: Regarding the Iranian issue, Sen. Dodd proved, as always, that he is a well-rounded candidate. Mr. Dodd undoubtedly has the most sensible policies on immigration --legal and illegal.
-John Edwards: -On Iran: A- -On China: A -On Immigration: B+
Comments: Mr. Edwards & Sen. Obama have proven they're capable of grappling with an issue as complicated as Iran. Of all the Democratic & Republican presidential front-runners, these two have staked out the most sensible positions on Iran.
-Kucinich is, as he claims, the most principled candidate on any of the three issues discussed today.
-Hillary Clinton: I was not appalled by Sen. Clinton's positions, I just think that the media & Mrs. Clinton are beginning to realize that her positions with regards to Iran are not as relevant now as they may have been prior to the Pakistani crisis, and yesterday's publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate. Notwithstanding, her positions on Immigration & China are not disconnected from reality, but they're certainly not anything to write home about.

P.S. Republicans are throwing this election away. It's not just that I think the Republican Party is inept, but they're tirelessly competing to be the least relevant candidate on each issue. Don't get me wrong, I like conservatives. This country wouldn't be any fun if I couldn't butt horns with my less Christian brethren. But I ask you this as a friend: Is your party running for President in 1988? Seriously, do you find a lot of non-white folks nostalgic for the 1980's? Is anyone nostalgic for the 1980's? Let's see how many of these heroic Republicans champion small government when they all start retiring within the next few years. Time to grow up, guys. If you calm down, your massive hearts will get you through the pro-Gay, tax-and-spend horrors on the horizon.

Eugene Debs '08

Posted by: legan00 | December 4, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

ogdeeds writes
"....what are you talking about with your doomsday 'drop in the polls' scenario for HRC....a few pts up in Iowa for obama and he's surging....a few pts down for HRC...and she is getting creamed....geez...."

On the surface, yes, it looks a little lopsided. However, once you dig a bit into the data, the story becomes more clear. One reason that Clinton is 'getting creamed' and Obama is 'surging' is the support from people who have them as 'second choice'. Because the Iowa caucuses mandate a floor of support for a candidate to get any delegates, many participants end up switching support. If you look at first choices, Obama, Edwards & Clinton are all pretty close. But when you include 2nd choices, Obama rises much further - to over half of participants - Edwards a little and Clinton not much at all. One problem with that data is we don't know who the first candidates are for those folks. But it implies that a lot more people are willing to support Obama than are willing to support Clinton. Couple that with trend changes - Clinton's numbers going down while Obama's are going up - and you have the explanation for the storyline about Surving v. Getting Creamed.

Posted by: bsimon | December 4, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

A disappointing post, I have to say. There's reporting on how money has so pervasively influenced politics, which is a valid story, but since when did it become a given that we shouldn't listen to what presidential candidates have to say just because they have "raised next to nothing" in their campaigns? Personally, I want to hear from the people who haven't been sucked into choosing their positions on issues based on what major donors they might offend. Let's put them in the winner or loser category on what they have to say, not the size of their war chests.

And how about a few words on Dennis Kucinich? You'd never know he was even there from what you wrote, and he's actually raised some money, so why doesn't he at least get his name in your posting? Is it because the Washington Post doesn't think he's a viable candidate? Americans want to see money divorced from politics, but if we can't count on the media to give these candidates fair coverage, how will it ever happen?

Sorry Chris, I usually enjoy the Fix, but you dropped the ball this time.

Posted by: mvcorderito | December 4, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Okay, The Fix is now firmly in the anti-Clinton camp and just gas joined all those who hyped her up into the favorite and the inevitable nominee earlier.
It is clear that the emergence of a new front-runner, Barack Obama, has not resulted in similar attacks on the current front-runner in Iowa. The question is--why?
Let's face it, the mainstream media want changing positions in these races-- otherwise they have no news to report. But it also obvious that the male contenders in the Democratic race gang up on Clinton and do not lay a glove on the new Iowa leader Obama without the media calling this gender thing.
The old gender inequalities are alive and well--in the mainstream media and among male politicians.

Posted by: bn1123 | December 4, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I still think HRC is the best person for potus. her vote on K-L is not such a horrendous things. obama didn't even bother to vote on it but seems to feel qualified to criticize HRC for doin so...and no one seems to take him to task for it. and as for the Iraq vote, it must be nice to just sit back and wax idealisitc about not going to war when he was in no position to make such a tough decision himself. and I dont know that he would have done any different than those senators that voted for the war. he has not been tested....he has been and continues to be in the ideal world. st is clear the media has taken a shine to him since everything HRC says back at him is construed as dirty politics....him calling her disengenous, one seems to mind or want to call him for it. and yes, the polls are tightening chris....what are you talking about with your doomsday 'drop in the polls' scenario for HRC....a few pts up in Iowa for obama and he's surging....a few pts down for HRC...and she is getting guys just do not have it in you to just report!

Posted by: ogdeeds | December 4, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse


Edwards, yes, has some valid points. But he fails miserably at explaining how he'd implement his ideas, which leads me to believe he would be incapable of doing so. He just seems a little childish to me.

Biden, Obama and Dodd, on the other hand, all act like responsible adults who have real policies and realistic approaches to real problems. Richardson is too idealistic and Clinton, I fear, wouldn't instigate any real change in the system, albeit she would be a brilliant and refreshing alternative to the status quo.

Posted by: thecrisis | December 4, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks 27, I appreciate the thought and the angst that went into your post. I'm trying hard to like Edwards. I really am. I'm afraid he is too off putting to win the whole enchilada. I won't nit pick with the substance of your post, except that I stop short of calling Huckabee bright. I don't care how devout he is, the world wasn't created 6000 years ago.

I too would like to start hearing intelligent questions asked in these affairs. And I'd like to hear just one of these experts volunteer an opinion on election reform or the candidate's right to not share (possess?) religious views. Guess I'll have to settle for some wedge issue, like gay marriage.

Posted by: cdavidj | December 4, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

While he did well, I cannot put Edwards as a winner. I asked him the exact same question (more or less) about China in Manchester, Iowa in December of 2003. He did the exact same thing ther as he did today... he didn't answer the question. He pretty much did a "I feel your pain" type answer. But he didn't answer what he would do. I also thought he was weak on the highly skilled immigrant worker question. He did not answer what he would do about it now. His answer was we need more education. Well, thats good and everyone agrees with it, but what about the current level.

When it comes to any question, he does a good job of skirting the issue and getting to either education, health care or corporate iinterest. He hardly ever answers a question, he says whats wrong with it and he'll change it. And before any Edwards supporter gets too crazy on me, I did caucus for him in 2004 (after my initial choice Clark did not reach viability).

Posted by: mcmahon10 | December 4, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

WP and the CIA got together to give CC a VCHIP implant that allows him to visualize all things political. FISA then authorized him (without a warrant, mind you) to include behind-closed-doors political discussions at people's homes so he can better tap into the mood of the nation.

Posted by: thecrisis | December 4, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

'jillcinta - were you actually "watching?"

I was in my car much of the time and thought it was a radio debate.'

mark, CC, like Chuck Norris, can actually see radio transmissions.

Posted by: drindl | December 4, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I liked Gravel. He's the only one who didn't jump on the bandwagon to demonize immigrants and the Chinese.

Posted by: tingkun55 | December 4, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Biden, as usual, was the most intelligent, confident and articulate of the lot of them. He is a top-tier candidate, regardless of polls.

If Biden ran, either with or against, John McCain, we'd have a guaranteed good campaign year and a great president, regardless of the outcome. Preferably Biden/McCain '08. Make it a reality!

Posted by: thecrisis | December 4, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

In defense of SoonerThought, Rasmussen has Sen. Biden running better than Sen. Clinton, against Mr. Giuliani.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | December 4, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I only heard 30 minutes of it, but from what I did hear, it certainly sounded more civilized and as substantive as these things can be than what we've seen on TV.

Save for Gravel who really ought to just go away, I thought they all sounded reasoned. Heck, I dislike John Edwards intently, but even he didn't bother me as much. He didn't sound nearly as angry and desperate as he normally does. Obama still has a tendency to speak haltingly.

But CC, you have to be consistent. In the past, you've put Hillary in the winners category because she gets attacked from all sides. Now you put her on the losing side for the same reason?

Good thing your audience is small - and that many of us will likely listen or read the transcripts ourselves.

The emphasis on personal opinions is what I hate most about blogging -- given that this is not universally known.

Posted by: femalenick | December 4, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

A general election poll was just released from Ohio, and it has mixed results. Clinton wins three out of her match-ups against Republicans, while Obama only wins one. Full numbers:

Posted by: campaigndiaries | December 4, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Just a clarification, Chris; the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was a non-binding resolution urging the administration to name the IRG a terrorist organization, not an actual designation.

Posted by: mutanttoasterfiend | December 4, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Reading the incoherent rants of the partisans here and I keep going back to the idea that we don't even deserve to survive as a nation and culture. You disagree with Edwards' economic plans? Are you insane. I think so! Look, all Edwards is proposing is that we take a look at the fictioal "global economy". A country cannot long survive and offshore it's best technology, every bit of it's esential manufacturing, and displace it's own scientists and engineers with cheap foreign labor. Our universities reserve between half and 2/3 of their science and engineering spots for Indian and Chinese students here on grants from *their* governments! (It's cheaper than building those universities, hiring qualified teachers, and buying all of the necessary infrastructure and so long as the U.S. is insane enough to do this, they'll do it.) So, we do not even have the basic skill set to work/produce our way out of the looming economic catastrophy we are facing. Edwards is merely using common sense and the old mark I eyeball. Oil is close to $100 a barrel, we have offshored close to 40 million jobs, laid off 8 million scientists and engineers, and moved all of our essential manufacturing over seas. Forget finding toys not make in China, try for clothing, pharmaceuticals, computers, integrated circuits, anything electrinic from an air conditioner to an electric range, wiring, paint, roofing materials, you name it and it ain't made here any more. Now, the dollar, just in case you haven't noticed, has been falling like a rock. It recently passed the break even point for those offshore produced products (read: everything but hamburgers) - expect inflation to ramp up, the dollar to fall *HARD*, unemployment to sky rocket, tax revenues to fall (sorry, illegals will have to wait in line along with actual American's for scarce social services becasue they money wont be there to pay for them). ALl of this is going to make the Carter years look like a cake walk and John Edwards knows do a very few actually sane observers and voters. Just quit the delussional garbage and cheerleading that everything will work out fine. It wont. We face a national disaster on a level never before experienced by this country and, of the candidates running, *only* John Edwards sees the future clearly. Now, Mike Huckabee and McCain and Biden are bright enough that they will eventually understand this and likely do exactly what Mr. Edwards is proposing today. I do not think Clinton or Paul or Rommney or Guliani has a prayer of even seeing problem, much less figuring out how to "fix it".

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 4, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards didn't win the debate today, America won. Without an audience cheering or booing, the candidates were able to discuss the issues and debate the differences. What is absolutely clear, that the next President of the United States needs to be and should be John Edwards. He is far and away the best candidate, and the candidate with the best chance of winning.

Posted by: gacker | December 4, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I listened to this debate on the radio.

Obama has an amazingly strong and distinctive radio voice. His answers were short, decisive and evidenced compassion and realism.

Edwards showed real emotion and connected with me on a visceral level. His tireless championing of the American worker is impressive.

Clinton seemed knowledgeable, warm and took a somewhat self deprecatory approach. I thought her response to a foreign policy question, that of course she would seek her husband's advice on foreign policy humanized her and made her more sympathetic.

Biden seemed too pedantic and long-winded.

Dodd clearly knows how to debate and like Obama has a compelling voice.

Kucinich's voice seemed harsh and unpleasant in tone, but his words contrasting himself with the others and his insistence on the strong and principled vision of a Kucinich Administration gave him heft and strength.

Mike Gravel is senile. I remember many speeches and presentations he has made in which he sounded thought provoking and profound. The persona he projects now is not like that.

Gravel now sounds like a guy who commits cannibalism on turkey day.

Posted by: pach12 | December 4, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Why is Hillary Clinton's strongest issue health care, when she basically copied most of John Edwards' plan?

Like Edwards said on CNN a few weeks ago, Clinton wasn't even for Universal Health Care AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR, so how much sense does it make for her to give him flack for being for Universal Health Care for CHILDREN in 2004, as an incremental step, instead of for all Americans then?

Edwards' health care plan creates more choice, and actually can transition to a single payer system if the American people show that's what they want by choosing the Government system over private insurers.

He has the best Health Care plan, not Hillary Clinton, but the media has to give her that, just because of HillaryCare 1993.

Posted by: framecop | December 4, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Oops, things CAN swing wildly. Sorry.

Posted by: BrianRFgmailcom | December 4, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

jillcinta - were you actually "watching?"

I was in my car much of the time and thought it was a radio debate.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 4, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

"Soonerthought wrote: Biden was the clear winner. He is surging in the polls. I smell an upset in Iowa!"

Surging in the polls? In the Des Moines Register poll, Biden gets 6% of likely caucus-goers, fifth place. The ABC/Washington Post and Rasmussen polls has him with 4%, also in 5th place.

I understand that the caucus is difficult to poll and that things and swing wildly but let's not get crazy here. Biden isn't surging nor is he outside the margin of error in most polls. He may be surging on ONE poll but asking your cousin who lives in Indianola, Iowa doesn't count as a poll.

Posted by: BrianRFgmailcom | December 4, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

'Biden was the clear winner. He is surging in the polls. I smell an upset in Iowa!'

I would like to beleive that - got links?

Posted by: drindl | December 4, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Biden was the clear winner. He is surging in the polls. I smell an upset in Iowa!

Posted by: soonerthought | December 4, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

So how bad did Hillary lose? Is she now trailing Obama in overall mojo for the race? Seems so with a constant barrage of gaffes and poor debate performances.

Posted by: parkerfl | December 4, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I totally disagree about Edwards. He wouldn't answer the questions. Take China for example, the moderator had to ask him twice to answer the question . . . and instead Edwards told everyone that he is the son of a Mill Worker. The people I was watching with were all hysterically laughing at Edwards because he has one answer for everything.

Posted by: jillcinta | December 4, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Heard much of it.

Putting aside my disagreement with Edwards about economic issues, and his kneejerk- populist iteration and reiteration that the factory that employed his father in NC no longer existed -
thus implying that protectionism would save American jobs -
putting that aside, I agree with your assessment. Not "putting aside" what Edwards actually said, it was all Biden and Dodd.

HRC did finish ahead of Gravel, in this one, but she was pretty much flattened on the three issues: Iran, China, and immigration.

I had suspected that in a debate limited to a few major issues with equal time, and a real chance given to explore the issues, Biden and Dodd for the Ds and McCain for the Rs would all shine. The D debate was a strong partial affirmation for my prescience.

But a lot of Ds probably like Edwards'
protectionist view, and that probably will play well to them.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 4, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It looks like NPR is trying to be as bad as CNN.

They asked for immigration questions, and I submitted a few (second comment here:

Now, compare the questions I submitted (all in Youtube videos) with the ones that were asked about this topic.

Which is more important:

1. Press 1 for English (an NPR question), or

2. A plan Hillary supported that would let illegal aliens take college discounts from U.S. citizens ( )

I'd really like to hear someone from NPR - or even just CC - answer that one.

So, which is more important: voice mail messages, or a scheme that would deprive U.S. citizens of college educations?

See the npr link for my other suggestions, but here's one more.

Which is more important:

1. A strawman argument implying that some are suggesting calling ICE on random dishwashers (an NPR question), or
2. The fact that Obama marched in support of illegal immigration at a march organized by those linked to the MexicanGovernment and MexicanPolicalParties ( ).

Maybe Howard Kurtz could weigh in on NPR's attempt to out-CNN CNN.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | December 4, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree. This is the first one I've watched/listened to- and I'm glad it started on such a high note.

Posted by: nicolewash | December 4, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good analysis. Another winner was the debate format. We finally had an interesting, and intelligent debate. More radio debates please!!

Posted by: aml_lewis | December 4, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

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