Obama pulls a Hillary
10:24pm Eastern. Final report card:
Hillary: C plus. Kept cackles to a minimum.
O-BOMB-A: D. For dud. He looked and sounded like a state senator from Illinois, not the next president of the United States.
Wolf Blitzer: D. You’re no Tim Russert, Wolf.
Biden: A for shooting down Denny K’s nutroots antics and for calling out Suzanne Malveaux’s agenda-pushing.
Suzanne Malveaux: F, F, F. She was suffering from pushy stage mother syndrome tonight. How embarrassing.
Oops, I forgot Edwards: L for loser. No one can stand him–left, right, or center. Here’s vid of him getting booed for going after Saint Hillary.
10:09pm Eastern. Oh, dear God. A UNLV student asks the last question. Directed at Hillary Clinton only: “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?”
Hillary cackles that she wants both. Cackle, cackle.
Suzanne Malveaux does not belong on a news network. She belongs on “The View.” Or Hillary’s press staff.
Here are two video clips of some emblematic moments I mentioned. The Obama flub:
And Kucinich’s “pick me, pick me!” moment:
10:05pm Eastern. Another citizen question (again, with Suzanne Malveaux cramming in her two cents) asks the candidates how they will represent all of the country, not just half of it. Hillary says, in so many of her own bloated words, that she is a uniter, not a divider. This “debate” is a duuuuud.
9:55pm Eastern. A citizen questioner asks what qualities the Dems want in their judges. CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux “helps” out the citizen questioner by tacking on her own question about where they stand on abortion. Maybe she could shut up and let the citizen ask the question.
Wolf asks the Dems Malveaux’s abortion litmus test question instead of the citizen’s question.
Biden calls out Malveaux for her agenda-pushing. “Suzanne’s already decided, I’ll ask the woman’s question.” (Applause). Yeah, I applauded, too.
9:49pm Eastern. Hillary and Obama go at it over entitlements. Obama accuses Hillary of engaging in number-cooking that he would expect from Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Mixed boos and applause. Hillary drags the “bipartisan commission” out of the failed ideas morgue.
9:40pm Eastern. Kucinich finds a chance to call for impeachment. “IMPEACHMENT NOW!” The crowd goes wild.
Joe Biden pours water on the anti-profiling, anti-Patriot Act frenzy. Ok, let’s not vote him off the island yet. He’s useful.
Now, we slide into an open-borders rant by Bill Richardson. Dodd gets to show off his Spanish. The Dems are in denial about the homeland security/immigration nexus. They could be using this opportunity to go after the Bush administration’s enforcement failures. They’re too stupid and craven to do so. Lucky for us, I guess.
9:37pm Eastern. Dan Riehl has seen that first citizen questioner before.
9:25pm Eastern. Citizen questions. A mother stands with her son, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq. They oppose ” war with Iran.” Biden says Bush “should be impeached” if he goes to war with “Iraq” (he means Iran) without congressional approval. Hillary talks about Qods attacks in Iraq on American soldiers. Defends her vote on Kyl amendment. Edwards goes nutroots with his attack on “Bush, Cheney, and the neocons” and attacks any defense against Qods. “We’ve seen this movie.” Obama attacks Hillary’s support for Kyl amendment. Blitzer points out that he missed the vote. BO: “Hazards of running for president.”
9:17pm Eastern. Commercial break for some stage furniture rearranging. Here’s my halftime summary. The boys have failed their mission. Hillary is untouched. Obama’s in miserable shape. The audience seems ready to drag Edwards off the stage. And it’s way past time to vote Denny K and Bill Kumbaya Richardson off the island, along with Dodd and Biden, the Spongebob twins.
As for Wolf and the CNN panel: D minus. The nutroots will be happy.
9:12pm Eastern. Campbell Brown tosses Hillary a softball about playing the gender card. “I’m not playing the gender card, I’m playing the winning card…They’re not attacking me because I’m a woman, they’re attacking me because I’m ahead.” (Loud applause.) Campbell: “What did you mean by the ‘boys club?'” in her Wellesley speech. Hillary snickers: “Campbell!” Takes the softball and runs with it. Bleeech. Blitzer: “Do any of you believe Hillary is playing the gender card?” Edwards: “You looking at me?..Everyone on this stage should be held to the same standard”…lapses into faux populism talking points. Audience boos.
9:10pm Eastern. While the candidates pander to Nevadans over Yucca Mountain waste, here’s a partial transcript of Obama’s drivers’ license flub:
Wolf Blitzer: …Barring, and uh avoiding… assuming there isn’t going to be comprehensive immigration reform, do you support or oppose driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?
Barack Obama: I… am not… proposing… that that’s what we do. What I’m saying is that we can’t be… [audience laughs] no, no, no look I , I have already said… I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver’s licenses at the state level can make that happen. But what I also know…
Blitzer: All right.
Obama: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem then we are not solving it.
Wolf Blitzer: Because this is the kind of question that it’s sort of available for a yes or a no answer… either you support it or you oppose it!
Obama sounds more like Pinnochio than Hillary did:
9:00pm Eastern. Campbell Brown uses the Chinese toy recalls to press the candidates on trade policy. Denny K uses the opportunity to attack John Edwards. Edwards wrinkles his nose and says: “Cute, Denny, cute.” Ewww.
Blitzer invokes the NAFTA debate during the Clinton era, asks Hillary: “Knowing what we know now, was Ross Perot right?” Hillary cracks that all she remembers was “a bunch of charts,” launches into an attack on China.
Oh, the opening here is too easy. Someone say it: “Norman Hsu.”
8:53pm Eastern. My favorite little moment of the night so far. Dennis Kucinich trying to get some attention: “Hello?! Hello?!”
General Bill Richardson declares that “the surge is not working.” After saying “we shouldn’t talk about the body count,” Richardson laments “that our troops are dying.”
8:51pm Eastern. After obligatory Bush-bashing, Dodd finally says clearly: “The security of the country is number one.”
Hillary agrees with Dodd.
8:49pm Eastern. Wolf asks BO: What’s more important, international human rights or American national security? Convoluted answer. My fingers are too tired to type it.
8:47pm Eastern. Bill Richardson asserts that there are times when international human rights trump our national security.
Three people applaud. Dennis Kucinich, his wife, and Mike Gravel in the audience. No, not really.
8:30pm Eastern. Well, my friends, Barack Obama has blown it. Big time. His stumbly-bumbly answer on drivers’ licenses made Hillary’s botch last week look like buttah. He had all the mojo going into this and he BLEW IT. He can dance with Ellen deGeneres, but he is still not ready for prime time.
Words that will come back to bite Obama in the behind:
“When it takes two weeks and six different positions to answer one question on immigration, it’s easier to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
***8:27pm Eastern.*** Campbell Brown attempts to focus an immigration question on Obama. Answer: “I think they feel justified in feeling frustrated.” Is he talking about illegal aliens or Americans fed up with immigration chaos? Not clear. He says he support employer sanctions. Obama said “illegal aliens.” Progress.
Blitzer: So, Sen. Obama, you support drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens?
BO: The problem is not drivers’ licenses. They don’t come here to drive. They’re not coming here to go through “In n Out burger.”
Do you support or oppose licenses for aliens?
BO: If we keep on getting distracted by this…BO is tripping up…audience hoots and hollers…
John Edwards: Does not support licenses, but does a Pinnochio from Shrek impression on comprehensive immigration reform.
Dodd: “Clarity is important.”
Yes, please, let’s have some.
Dodd: They are the wrong thing to do in terms of attracing illegals.
Obama: Now says yes.
Kucinich: “I take issue with you calling them illegal immigrants. They’re undocumented…Cancel NAFTA…I take exception to how you framed the question.”
He’s offended at a simple yes or no question.
Richardson: “My answer is yes and I did it.”
8:22pm Eastern. Wolf Blitzer does not have control of this debate. The audience seems unhappy that Hillary is getting all the talk time. Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson get loud applause for getting a chance to say…nothing.
Blitzer asks all candidates: Are you willing to say you will support the Democrat nominee for president?
John Edwards: “Is that a planted question?”
Silence. The allusion falls flat.
8:17pm Eastern. Hillary interjects. “I’ve been personally attacked again!” Waaah. The audience is getting restless. Hillary attacks Edwards for “throwing mud.” “When Edwards ran in 2004, he wasn’t for universal health care.”
Wolf wants Biden to weigh in. JB: “Oh, no, no, no!…people don’t care about this stuff.” Biden gets all folksy. Hillary cackles.
8:14pm Eastern. These CNN journalists are too scared or incompetent to press the candidates on the drivers’ license issue. Someone bring in Lou Dobbs. Hillary scores by steering this away from her flip-floppery on illegal immigration to Hillarycare.
Wolf gently goes to Edwards. He changes the subject to “trust” and the Iraq war and “the neocons on Iran.”
8:10pm Eastern. Finally. First question. Campbell Brown starts in with Hillary on her drivers’ license botch and “some people on this stage” saying this is a pattern of your “politics of parsing.”
HRC: “It’s important that we have a candidate who is tested and ready to lead from day one.” Tepid.
Blitzer brings in Obama.
BO: “What we need is straight answers and that is not what we’ve seen from Sen. Clinton. On drivers’ licenses, Social Security…what I’m absolutely convinced of is that we need a different kind of politics.”
HRC: “When it came time to step up and decide whether he would support universal health coverage,” he failed. “I am proud to fight this battle…Let’s not forget that the people we are fighting against will not go voluntarily. We need someone who is tested and ready to lead.”
BO: “The fact of the matter is is that I do provide universal health care.”
HRC: “The most important thing here is to level with the American people…I helped create the children’s health insurance program in 1997…he does not mandate what I do…”
8:05pm Eastern. Ok, the debate has started, except that it hasn’t started. They’re doing this weird meta-coverage thing of letting viewers sit through the photo-ops, intros, etc., while the talking heads murmur platitudes. Wolf: “We hope to get a real conversation going.”
Get on with it already.
Dem debate in Sin City: Will it be Hillary by a nose?
The Great Big Hillary Comeback/Democrat Male Pile-On/Wolf Blitzer Moment In The Sun is hours away on CNN. I’ll have a full bag of popcorn ready. Join me for liveblogging here at 8pm Eastern. The media-politics hype machine is on overdrive.
Blitzer is manning up:
On Tuesday, a top aide to Hillary Clinton indirectly warned moderator Wolf Blitzer not to be too hard on her in Thursday’s debate. The warning was issued via the Drudge Report, an influential Web site that has received numerous leaks from the Clinton campaign on such topics as her fundraising prowess.
“This campaign is about issues, not on who we can bring down and destroy,” a senior Clinton aide told cyberjournalist Matt Drudge. “Blitzer should not go down to the levels of character attack and pull ‘a Russert.’ ”
Blitzer, who said he had not been directly contacted by the Clinton campaign, called the New York Democrat “a sophisticated, strong politician.” But he also issued his own veiled warning.
“If she can’t handle the heat during a Democratic contest, wait until the Republicans really start going after her…If she’s the nominee.”
Like Hillary said: “Turn up the heat!”
Oh, and hey, lady: How ’bout them pardons?