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Beverly Davis Headshot

Philadelphia: ABC's Bitter Tabloid Debate

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Here's what I didn't learn in the debate:

Barack Obama doesn't wear a flag pin on his label but he "reveres the flag."

Hillary Clinton lied about Bosnia but she apologized for the lie -- again.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton aren't elitists even though they are both millionaires but they are members of the nation's politically elite.

Barack Obama disagrees with his former minister who made anti-American statements after 9/11 but he won't leave his church. Hillary Clinton would have left the church.

Hillary Clinton's husband pardoned two former members of the Weatherman Underground when he was president.

Barack Obama was eight years old when Bill Ahers was a member of the Weatherman Underground in the 60s and threw bombs.

Hillary Clinton isn't honest or trustworthy according to the latest ABC poll.

Both candidates have more than enough baggage that the Republicans can and will exploit to win the White House...using the same tactics the Democratic candidates are employing on each other now.

Neither candidate will agree to choose the loser to be their Veep if they win.

Both candidates think the other would be a good president and could win against John McCain though they both think they would be a better president than their rival.

So what was new? The extreme tabloid questions asked by the moderators to both candidates, but especially aimed at Senator Obama with only days before the Keystone state primary scheduled for April 22.

Mr. Obama stood his ground but he didn't perform as well as one might expect the near-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who found himself on the ropes for the better part of the 90-minute debate. He didn't look too happy about it, but he didn't lose his cool. He can take the heat and he did.

All's fair in love and presidential politics, never mind that the moderators -- ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos -- should have been fair. Hey, this is network TV, what do you expect when George took one particularly stupid question about Obama's tenuous relationship with Bill Ayers from Sean Hannity, the conservative talk show host on FOX TV?

Oddly enough, even with her shrinking lead in Pennsylvania, which she is expected to win, the real bitter pill was Mrs. Clinton.

She glanced down at her notes during the debate just to make sure she wouldn't forget her prepared zingers for the Republican Party's entertainment at Constitutional Hall. The note reading made her seem calculating, small and less presidential.

Mrs. Clinton said more than once, "I'm still in this race because I think I'm the better candidate..." (than he is!)

Vote for me was the message she continued to pound away at during the debate. She took the offensive trying desperately to redefine her opponent but the Obama Hope-mobile with his crackerjack campaign staff, oodles of campaign contributions, and change message has already left the station.

Although a cool hand Luke during debates, Mrs. Clinton's body language, her constant personal attacks on Obama, and mea culpa on her Bosnia-landing story belied her desperate situation.

Without a serious double-digit win in Pennsylvania and all the primaries to follow, Mrs. Clinton must rely on a superdelegate surge that has been moving toward Obama in the last five weeks.

In fact, this debate was really aimed at the superdelegates rather than the voters.

The Beltway gossip, media spinning and negative advertising by both campaigns have reached fever pitch that promises not to end anytime soon.

What I did learn tonight?

Senator Obama believes the Second Amendment extends the right of individual citizens to bear arms.

Senator Clinton will "create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel. Any attack on Israel by the Iranians would incur massive retaliation from the United States and she would do the same with the other countries in the region."

Both Clinton and Obama made a pledge not to raise taxes on those making between $200,000 to $250,000 or less and Obama would cap payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright loves his country. He was a Marine.

The Wrap Up:

There were no big mistakes made by either candidate but Senator Obama got roughed up and Senator Clinton seemed as unlikeable as ever. Going negative in debates has hardly worked for her in the past and it is doubtful it will make much difference in her poll numbers or in the delegate math.

188 delegates will be chosen during the Keystone state primary next week and there is yet another debate by both candidates prior to the Indiana and North Carolina primaries scheduled for May 6 with 218 delegates in play.

While Senator Clinton is expected to take the Pennsylvania primary even though the latest polls have her lead narrowing to 6 points, Senator Obama is expected to win North Carolina. Indiana is the next crucial state where this nomination fight could be decided.

Then it will be up to the superdelegates still holding back their votes to see who has the 'mo' to place their bets with the winner of this bitterly contested race for the Democratic nomination.

John McCain must be chugging a cold one after tonight's performance in Philadelphia and grinning like a Cheshire cat.