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candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama get ready for their debate
on Feb. 26 at CSU's Wolstein Center.
Photo: Audrey McCrone
Obama exchange blows
By Gavin Keenan
When Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took the Wolstein
Center stage yesterday, it was clear what their intentions were.
Clinton needed to salvage her sinking campaign on the heels of losing
11 consecutive primaries. Obamas goal was to deliver a knockout
punch that would see him through to the general election as the Democratic
Clintons plan of attack was apparent from the get go as she went
on the offensive against Obamas healthcare plan. A plan, she argued,
that would exclude somewhere in the vicinity of 15 million Americans.
for Clinton, Obama responded by defending his plan against her notion
of excluding low-income citizens from his plan.
He went on to point out the vast similarities between their healthcare
As the night went on, Clinton continued to criticize Obama, looking
for something that could swing the momentum in her direction.
She hoped to do so by returning to the issue of healthcare and taking
the lions share of face time. Unfortunately for Clinton, it was
a fight with which Obama did not want to become engaged.
At one point, Obama voiced his displeasure with Clintons lengthy
interjections by saying, Im being filibustered here.
two candidates devoted the first 16 minutes of the debate to healthcare,
the topic turned to NAFTA. Immediately, Clinton and Obama took turns
distancing themselves from it like the plague. An expected reaction,
considering the debate was taking place in a state that has seen countless
jobs disappear because of NAFTA.
I have been a critic of NAFTA since the beginning, Clinton
After briefly dodging debate moderator Tim Russerts assertion
that at one point or another each candidate had spoken favorably about
NAFTA, they moved on to discuss their corrective action for it. Once
again, they were in agreement
that if elected they would demand the terms be renegotiated or threaten
to withdraw from NAFTA all together.
I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage
to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that
are enforced, Obama said.
Once the burning domestic issues were touched upon, the candidates were
asked about their foreign policy intentions.
In the wake of Clintons allegations about Obamas lack of
experience, he discredited her by referencing a 2002 speech in which
he picked apart the flaws of the invasion of Iraq. Obama also stressed
that the aforementioned speech occurred around the same time Clinton
had voted to send the troops in to war.
Clinton took that opportunity to point out that Obama was not a member
of Senate at the time he made those comments. Therefore, she argued
it was easy to criticize something when he didnt have responsibility.
debate, each candidate was asked to choose a question they would like
their opponent to answer. As expected, neither Obama nor Clinton elected
to do so.
Instead, they took the opportunity to compliment their opponent and
gently outline why they make a better candidate.
The reason I think Im better as the nominee is that I can
bring this country together I think in a unique way, across divisions
of race, religion, and region, Obama said.
Not to be outdone, Clinton expressed her pleasure to have campaigned
against Obama and continued to make her final appeal.
Its time we had a president for the middle class and working
people, the people who get up every day and do the very best they can.
And they deserve somebody who gets up in that White House and goes to
bat for them, Clinton concluded.
The debate was the 20th installment for the Democratic candidates. It
was the candidates final chance to appeal voters in Ohio and Texas.
Both states hold their primaries on March 4.