LAS VEGAS—Greetings from the filing room at the University of Nevada here. The Democratic debate is about to begin. What happens in Vegas……
I’ll be live blogging, trying something different tonight. All my posted items for the next two hours will be under this one headline. If I have time—I also have to file a story for the print edition—I’ll try to post more. The candidates are behind the podium….
7:32 p.m. Chicago time UPDATE UPDATE
Sparks fly between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the top. Looks like CNN host Wolf Blitzer will have a chore controlling a boisterous audience. Obama and Clinton dominate the first minutes.
Obama mentions Clinton dodging on hotbutton issue of granting illegal immigrants drivers licenses off the block. Clinton opens a new front, tackling Obama, saying his health care plan does not cover everybody and hers does. Within three minutes of a heated exchange over universal mandates, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer sends out e-mail with research about how Obama’s plan does not cover everyone and how Edwards did not back universal coverage in 2004.
***Singer e-mail one 7:16; e-mail two 7:21/ rebuttal from Obama's Bill Burton on mandates 7:27***
7:50 p.m. Chicago time UPDATE UPDATE
New tactic alert......
Singer coming out with oppo memo real time just sent to those of uslive blogging
"For those who are live-blogging, we are posting our response items on our FactHub website. We’ll send a compilation of links periodically. You can also check the following URL for updates: http://facts.hillaryhub.com/"
7:55 p.m. Chicago time UPDATE UPDATE
A few days ago Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times ran an item that Edwards would not say if he would support the Democratic nominee. Obama said promptly he would. (I know it was promptly because I was standing next to Zeleny. Blitzer seeks to tidy up the matter, asking "Are you ready to commit absolutely, positively that you will support the Democratic nominee, no matter who that nominee is, no ifs, ands or buts?
Edwards quips " Is that a planted question?" Light jab at Clinton who got caught planting questions at a town hall. All agree to back the nominee except Kucinich."Only if they oppose war as an instrument of policy."
8:06 p.m. Chicago time UPDATE UPDATE
Blitzer is asking each candidate if they would back illegal immigrants getting drivers licenses. That coule be, Blitzer points out to Obama in this exchange, a yes or no answer. Obama needed a lot of prodding to get to yes.
BLITZER: Well, let's go through everybody because I want to be precise. I want to make sure the viewers and those of us who are here fully understand all of your positions on this.
SEN. OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do. What I'm
saying is that we can't -- (interrupted by laughter). No, no, no, no,
look, I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal
with public safety and that drivers licenses at the state level can
make that happen. But what I also --
MR. BLITZER: All right.
SEN. OBAMA: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on
getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.
MR. BLITZER: But -- because this is the kind of question that is
sort of available for a yes or no answer. (Laughter, cheers,
applause.) Either you support it or you oppose it.
Summary: No/ Clinton, Edwards, Dodd, Biden
Yes/ Obama, Ricardson, Kucinch
The emphasis on Obama, Clinton and Edwards meant that the others had difficulty getting face time.
When Blitzer finally invited Biden, "I want you to weigh in," Biden parried, " Don't do it, no! Don't make me speak!''
Kucinich had to fight to be heard. At one point he called out "Hello! Hello!"
Clinton protests that she is not playing the gender card in the passage below. But she pushes all the empathy buttons. Take note of her one word reply to Campbell Brown, now with CNN, when Brown asks about the “boys club” she complained about.
CLINTON: Well, I'm not exploiting anything at all. I'm not playing, as some people say, the gender card here in Las Vegas. I'm just trying to play the winning card. And I understand, very well, that people are not attack me because I'm a woman; they're attacking me because I'm ahead. And I understand that...You know, as Harry Truman famously said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
And I feel very comfortable in the kitchen.
And I'm going to withstand the heat. But, you know, this is really one of the kind of issues that we can laugh about because it's exciting when you look at this field of candidates. You know, several of us would never have had a chance to stand here and run for president -- a Latino, an African-American, a woman -- if it hadn't been for the progress of America over my lifetime. And I am thrilled to be running to be the first woman president.
BROWN: But, Senator, if I can just ask you, what did you mean at Wellesley when you referred to the "boy's club"?
BROWN: Just curious.
CLINTON: Well, it is clear, I think, from women's experiences that from time to time, there may be some impediments.
Post debate in the Spin Room:
*Edwards team pleased Clinton engaged them. The Edwards goal is to make this a Clinton-Edwards contest.
*Obama's David Axelrod said "I think we've got momenteum in Iowa."
Line to remember
Clinton "this pantsuit, it's asbestos tonight."
LAS VEGAS—Regaining her footing during a boisterous Democratic presidential debate Thursday, White House hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton said her rivals were “throwing mud” as Barack Obama and John Edwards sought to portray her as evasive and fence straddling.
Moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the at times rowdy, hooting and clapping audience added a Vegas show element to the heated seven-way debate, hosted by the University of Nevada not far from the city’s famous casino strip.