February 27, 2008

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Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama get ready for their debate on Feb. 26 at CSU's Wolstein Center.
Photo: Audrey McCrone

Clinton, 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. Obama’s goal was to deliver a knockout punch that would see him through to the general election as the Democratic nominee.
Clinton’s plan of attack was apparent from the get go as she went on the offensive against Obama’s healthcare plan. A plan, she argued, that would exclude somewhere in the vicinity of 15 million Americans.

Unfortunately 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 reform plans.
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 lion’s 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 Clinton’s lengthy interjections by saying, “I’m being filibustered here.”
the 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 said.
After briefly dodging debate moderator Tim Russert’s 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 agr
eement 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 Clinton’s allegations about Obama’s 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 didn’t have responsibility.”
close the 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 I’m 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.
“It’s 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.







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