Thursday, January 31, 2008
(Picture source: Reuters)
Hillary and Obama put aside their differences tonight and made it clear their real opponents were the Republicans. In fact, they made a point of not bickering or sniping at each other, much to the disappointment of Wolf Blitzer, who did his best to get them going.
Before the debate, the talking heads were hyping up the upcoming debate between the two remaining Democrats as if it were the Super Bowl, talking about "sitting on the ball" and who was going to start out aggressively. If I hadn't checked to see if I was really tuned in to CNN I'd have thought I was watching ESPN. It was that hard to tell.
Both candidates refused to take the bait when Wolf Blitzer brought up controversial issues that he obviously hoped would inspire animosity between them.
They discussed everything from health care to immigration to Iraq, and even while disagreeing, continued to hammer home that their views were much more similar than they were different, and miles apart from the views of the Republicans. This is how it should be.
The biggest applause of the night came when they were asked if they would consider an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket ("There is a difference," quipped Barack).
I was impressed with Hillary's responses, as she kept her cool and had an answer for all the tough questions that were thrown at her, including when she was asked if she'd be able to keep her husband under control if she became President. She seemed relaxed and in good spirits. I hadn't watched more than a clip or two of previous debates so I was pleasantly surprised by her performance tonight.
Barack Obama was also strong, and spoke fluently about all of the issues. He seemed to have some pretty concrete answers to questions about his proposed policies for health care and other programs, which is what I was looking for. He too seemed relaxed and able to respond easily to anything he was asked. He did seem to harp a bit too much on the fact he didn't support the Iraq war from the beginning when discussing what his policy would be in Iraq in the future, but of course that is a key selling point for him, and he wants to make sure he gets it in.
At the end they parted cordially. I'm sure the media were disappointed that no blood was shed, no teeth were bared, and both candidates comported themselves with dignity and good humor.
All in all I'd say they both won the debate and Wolf Blitzer lost, since he couldn't get a rise out of either of them.