Democratic candidates debate

By Kaitlin Barr
November 8, 2007

Jerry Zurek

The Democratic presidential candidates knew they would have to beat up Hillary Clinton if they hoped to stay alive, and in true Philadelphia fashion, the debate at Drexel University on Oct. 30 turned into a verbal brawl.

NBC anchor Brian Williams tried to open the debate with decorum by alluding to the grand history of Philadelphia: “Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, where the founding fathers gathered to declare our nation’s independence and to ring out that news on the Liberty Bell, still proudly displayed here.” But the debate soon became a six-on-one fight.

Hundreds of supporters, thousands of media -including five Loquitur editors — and millions of viewers watched as Sen. Barack Obama defended his previous actions, Sen. Hillary Clinton backpedaled in her responses, former Sen. John Edwards bashed Hillary for everything she stands for, and Sen. Joe Biden threw in his sarcastic remarks every once and a while.

Starting out the debate were questions to Obama, who previously told the New York Times that he was going to be a tougher competitor against Hillary Clinton. Obama quickly defended himself by saying, “First of all, I think some of this stuff gets over-hyped. I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed, although the amazing thing is I’m Rocky in this situation.” He was alluding to the fact that some Rocky movies are set in the city of Philadelphia.

Immigration, Iran, the war in Iraq, President Bush’s talk of World War III and healthcare were only some of the topics discussed during the two-hour-long debate. Although most candidates did offer different points of view towards all of these topics, they all did agree on one thing — President Bush has not done a good job running the United States.

“Everybody agrees up here that President Bush has made a total mess out of the situation with Iran,” Clinton said at one point.

Edwards shortly added, “A lot of us on this stage have learned our lessons the hard way, that you give this President an inch and he will take a mile.”

According to the Associated Press, some candidates expressed frustration in that most of the questions were directed towards the top three candidates, Obama, Clinton and Edwards.

Finally, 17 minutes into the debate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich was able to speak. While each candidate was pledging that Iran will never develop a nuclear bomb while they are president, Kucinich said, “With all due respect to our friends from the media here, the media itself has to be careful how you frame these questions. We don’t want to be in a position where we are taking this country to the threshold of war. The media did play a role in taking us into war in Iraq. And I’m urging members of the media – urge restraint upon you and our president, whose rhetoric is out of control.”

The divide between Democrats and Republicans has been in existence since the two parties both formed. Towards the middle of the debate, Brian Williams quoted a point formerly made by Republican presidential frontrunner, Rudolph Giuliani that Clinton can’t be trusted because she’s never run a state, a city or even a business.

Clinton rebutted this criticism by stating that she feels the Republicans are consistently talking about her because they feel she is communicating well what she wants to accomplish as president.

Obama believed differently by saying, “Part of the reason that Republicans, I think, are obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that’s a fight they’re very comfortable having.” Jumping on the bandwagon next was Edwards saying, “I mean, another perspective on why the Republicans keep talking about Senator Clinton is, Senator, they may actually want to run against you, and that’s the reason they keep bringing you up.”

Towards the end of the debate, each candidate received 30 seconds to respond in a lightning round. Although they were allowed 30 seconds, most went well over that time frame, trying to make their last points.

Commentary after the debate talked that Clinton was off her game during the debate. However, she still is in the lead in the polls. In a recent poll done by USA Today after the Oct. 30 debate at Drexel, 50 percent of people said they were for Hillary Clinton, 21 percent were for Barack Obama, and 13 percent were for John Edwards.

38 percent of voters said that the most important issue they’re concerned about is the Iraq war. 18 percent said that health care and health insurance is most important.

Primary elections will begin earlier than in previous years, as early as January. Pennsylvania primaries are later on in the race, not until Tuesday, April 1, 2008. Elections will take place on Nov. 4, 2008.

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Kaitlin Barr

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