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Opening Statements

The debate is under way with Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) delivering opening statements.

Clinton went first, emphasizing her long roots in Texas -- her first "political" job was registering voters in South Texas -- and her "shared values" with the people of the state.

She also emphasized her record of delivering for people via public service. "Politics is about making real differences in peoples' lives," said Clinton.

She chose to avoid drawing any specific contrasts with Obama in her opening statement.

Obama was even more conciliatory, praising Clinton as a friend and emphasizing time and again that he and Clinton agreed on any number of issues.

And, as he has done throughout the campaign, Obama emphasized not any specific policy proposal but rather his belief that America is at "a defining moment in our history" and he is uniquely qualified to break the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed the government in recent years.

"We can bring this country together," said Obama.

In short, both candidates stuck to their standard stump speeches in their opening remarks.

A side note: Obama won a "draw" to see who would lead off in the opening statement. He deferred, forcing Clinton to speak first. A sign of things to come?

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 21, 2008; 8:23 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: The First 45 Minutes: We're All Friends Here

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