The Democrat presidential debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO begins shortly. It promises to be sweaty and soggy–the weather, I mean, not im-moderator Keith Olbermann. Here:
Labor groups are ready to hand out 10,000 rain ponchos, but hope their members won’t have to use them tonight when the Democratic candidates and thousands of union members and leaders gather at Soldier Field.
A.F.L.-C.I.O. spokesman Steve Smith said today that the stage for the candidates and the press area will be covered in case of rain — there is still a possibility of thunderstorms — but those in attendance are not allowed to carry umbrellas into the stadium.
It is hot here, surpassing 90 degrees by mid-afternoon. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. leaders decided to move the debate to Soldier Field and risk having it disrupted by rain because unions in the Midwest had told them that at least 12,000 members planned to attend. That was far more than A.F.L.-C.I.O. leaders thought could be accommodated at the original debate site, Chicago’s main convention center.
Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, called the debate, which starts at 6 p.m. here (7 p.m. Eastern) “the biggest job interview ever.” All the Democratic candidates — except for former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska — will be participating. MSNBC will broadcast the debate, with Keith Olbermann acting as moderator. He will ask questions and the candidates will face some questions from union members.
Allah will have video.
Here are the opening statements.
8:15pm Eastern. I just tuned it after putting my kids tonight. What a weird scene. Candidates shouting to be heard while people in the audience scream, yell, and stand up like they were at a football game. Has it been like this the whole time?
8:20pm Eastern. Yep, just back from a commercial break and you can see people in the audience waving, mugging for the cameras, and whooping it up. Chris Dodd has been talking so loud he’s almost lost his voice. Hillary is a big loser in this debate format. She looks limp and sounds shrill. I’m reminded of this performance.
8:26pm Eastern. Hardball question from Olby for Obama: “Would you honor Barry Bonds at the White House?” Obama won’t even answer.
8:33pm Eastern. John Edwards drags out his James Lowe story.
Dennis Kucinich is pumping up the crowd with his fantasy talk…he gets the last word crusading for…universal pre-school! Yippee!
From the NYSun liveblogging…
7:26: Olbermann brings it back to Hillary, who’s been attacked a bit in this round of trade questions. Clinton: “I want a united Democratic Party that will stand against the Republicans. And I will say that for 15 years I’ve stood up against the right-wing machine and I’ve come out stronger. So, if you want a winner, who knows how to take them on, I’m your girl.” It was clearly a canned line. But the audience ate it up.
7:49: Clinton on Obama’s Pakistan statements: “You can think big, but remember: You shouldn’t always say everything you think, if you’re running for president, because it can have consequences across the world and we don’t need that right now.” Hillary gets the biggest boo of the night.
Post-debate gabfest. Chris Matthews calls Hillary “majestic.”