Hello, and welcome to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love! And can you feel that love tonight — specifically between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, whom he has publicly sworn to go after. Meanwhile, John Edwards, too, has a fight on his hands: The fight to not be the perpetual third wheel. It's tag-team time as they both try to unseat the "inevitable" incumbent-like frontrunner — all moderated by NBC's own tag team of Brian Williams and Tim Russert. It's looking to be a fun installment of our patented HuffPo Debate Liveblog Series — where we watch the debates and critique the candidates in real time — and YOU get to read it! This eve we've got HuffPo mainstays
Glynnis MacNicol and John Neffinger, plus your trusty ETP editor Rachel Sklar (me). Together, we'll try not to get too distracted by Tim Russert's giant head, because let's face it, that thing is huge. Join us, won't you? Let the games begin!
Glynnis (8:58:29 PM): Chris Matthews is basically saying tonight is now or never for Barack
John (8:58:32 PM): Barack basically said tonight is now or never for Barack.
Rachel (9:00:12 PM): Pre-game warm-up with Olbermann and Matthews over; here we go!
Glynnis (9:00:21 PM): The Democratic Presidential debate, live from Drexel University in Philadelphia!
Rachel (9:00:42 PM): Seat of liberty! History! Democracy! BriWi's waxing patriotic here. We are SO going to see this material on SNL.
John (9:00:51 PM): Obama has raised expectations high - he has staked his reputation on successfully bopping Hillary on the nose tonight.
Rachel (9:01:08 PM): Yes - Obama with the gloves off - minus any sort of advantage of surprise. It's do or die here. Oh look, BriWi changed his tie from the news! Interesting. Earlier it was a jaunty purple with polka-dots; now it's sober stripes. Tie = GRAVITAS.
John (9:02:25 PM): BriWi wastes no time: you wanna attack Hillary? Be our guest.
Rachel (9:02:32 PM): Right into it: Obama, is your money where your mouth is?
Glynnis (9:02:48 PM): Where have you and Hillary differed? Rachel (9:02:52 PM): Long question! Wrap it up, BriWi! The clock is ticking.
Rachel (9:03:07 PM): "Rocky" joke warms up the crowd, but he falters before the knockout punch.
Glynnis (9:03:28 PM): And Obama ducks the question: "These things are overhyped"
Rachel (9:03:30 PM): Hillary in black this eve; an unusual color choice for her.
Rachel (9:03:37 PM): (or, absence of color choice, if you want to get technical).
Rachel (9:04:30 PM): Obama babbled a bit there; he didn't come off as strong and resolute here.
John (9:04:30 PM): He is clearly hesitant to look at Hillary as he lays out his charges against her.
Rachel (9:04:42 PM): Meanwhile, she seems as comfortable and confident as ever.
Rachel (9:04:46 PM): Smiling but strong.
Rachel 9:05:02 PM): I think the challenge energizes her - there's a "bring it on" sense here.
Glynnis (9:05:08 PM): Hillary comes out strong and direct.
Rachel (9:05:13 PM): And her rebuttal was half the length of his answer.
John (9:05:49 PM): She does not engage his charges directly, she just spells out her differences with Republicans.
Glynnis (9:06:12 PM): Edwards steps away from a Clinton attack and brings it back to the Bush admin to start.
Glynnis (9:07:20 PM): Now Edwards details Hillary's contradictions, slowly and surely.
John (9:07:21 PM): Now Edwards is laying out his case against Hillary, in effect coming to Obama's aid. The fight is not over yet.
Glynnis (9:07:45 PM): Russert: do you stand behind the word doubletalk. Edwards: I do.
John (9:08:02 PM): Hillary now goes positive, smiling as she talks affirmatively about her record.
Glynnis (9:08:31 PM): Hillary is not fazed at all, and has yet to address either Edwards or Obama directly.
Glynnis (9:09:04 PM): As a side note, she is center stage. Edwards to her right, Obama to the left.
(NB: Watch the video of the Clinton-Obama skirmish here.)
John (9:09:32 PM): She does look at them directly when they attack her, almost daring them to criticize them to her face.
Glynnis (9:10:05 PM): Russert: Why the Iran vote?
Glynnis (9:11:11 PM): Hillary has dropped the friendly smile already, and is coming on sharp and forceful. If Obama could co-opt some of this sharpness he might satisfy some of his critics who say he needs to take the gloves off.
John (9:11:35 PM): Their records are all so long, at least as far as statements they've made. It's very hard to draw clear distinctions between them on any issues.
Glynnis (9:12:49 PM): Thus far this debate seems to be more about allowing the other candidates to take shots at Hillary than talk about their own platforms (similar though they may be).
John (9:13:23 PM): Dodd gets his chance to explain his criticism of Hillary on Iran. His argument is sound, but not so pithy.
Glynnis (9:13:51 PM): Biden: "There were 75 other people who voted with her."
Glynnis (9:14:59 PM): Biden effectively takes the conversation away from Hillary and back to Bush, at the same time putting his own Foreign Relations experience on display.
Glynnis (9:15:42 PM): Brian Willams takes it away from Hillary and gives Obama a direct question about attacking Iran.
Rachel (9:15:49 PM): You know, I'm gonna say it: The Republicans are more fun to watch.
Rachel (9:16:00 PM): Somewhere along the line, they switched.
John (9:16:19 PM): Biden got goin on that answer, ending with "actions have consequences; big nations can't bluff."
Rachel (9:16:23 PM): Of course, debates aren't meant to be entertaining. (Per se.)
Rachel (9:16:45 PM): Here Obama seems to be hitting stride. Strength, confidence, and authority.
John (9:17:00 PM): Obama is similarly showing off his nuanced thinking about this problem.
Rachel (9:17:12 PM): Yes, well, we all know how well nuance plays with voters!
Glynnis (9:17:33 PM): I think that Obama needs to be less nuanced and more sharp and direct.
John (9:18:27 PM): There is a difference in positions here, but it is lost in a blizzard of strident, serious words from all sides.
Glynnis (9:18:29 PM): Instead of saying that we need to talk to our enemies, he should have directly addressed Guiliani's remarks.
Glynnis (9:18:50 PM): Hillary: "I want to start diplomacy."
John (9:19:25 PM): Hillary: "... in my view..." She has been hanging out with Dodd too much.
Rachel (9:19:49 PM): Edwards swings at Hillary: "She wants to challenge the administration - and the way to do that is to literally vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written by the neocons?"
Rachel (9:20:21 PM): "We have to stand up to this president." God, how long are we going to hear that? Wouldn't it be nice to hear, "Hey, remember back when we started standing up to this president...?"
Glynnis (9:20:26 PM): Hillary doesn't blink, literally, she has not taken her gaze off Edwards.
Rachel (9:20:51 PM): Oh look, Bill Richardson!
John (9:20:52 PM): Hello Edwards! He is clarifying the conflict very well. Re: Bush and Cheney, "You have to stand up to them." The thing Hillary voted for "gave them exactly what they wanted." Nice rhetorical questions too.
Glynnis (9:21:09 PM): Twenty minutes in, Richardson gets a question.
Rachel (9:21:51 PM): Bill Richardson is out of this race. He might as well be Gravel. He is an afterthought. (See here, where in a discussion of the campaign and frontrunners, he was not mentioned.)
John (9:22:02 PM): Richardson opens with "I'm the only one on this stage who has negotiated with a foreign..." eliciting objections from Biden.
Rachel (9:22:12 PM): Neff, what do you think of his nonverbals here?
Glynnis (9:22:47 PM): There was talk today of Richardson dropping out soon and pursuing a Senate seat.
Glynnis (9:22:53 PM): Dennis Kucinich!
John (9:22:54 PM): Better than usual, solid.
John (9:23:11 PM): Still speaking slowly, but not looking like he's reading from cue cards in his head.
Rachel (9:23:17 PM): He warmed as he went, but lost cred by being shouted down at the start.
Rachel (9:23:34 PM): Wide shot of the gang as Kucinich speaks; his height is noticeable. Deliberate?
John (9:23:45 PM): Agreed as to Richardson.
Rachel (9:23:59 PM): Ooh, Constitution-citing in Philadelphia! He is BRINGING IT!
John (9:24:14 PM): Did Kucinich just rhyme?
Glynnis (9:24:31 PM): Kucinich is the first candidate to elicit applause.
John (9:24:41 PM): "Challenge them on this war, challenge them at their core."?
Glynnis (9:25:19 PM): Hillary may literally take a swing at Russert. "Tim you asked me to pledge and I am pledging that I will do all that I can to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb."
Glynnis (9:26:02 PM): Russert repeats the question three times to Hillary but lets the other candidates off the hook after they give similar answers.
Rachel (9:26:21 PM): Russert isn't a fan, eh?
John (9:26:23 PM): Obama is having a moment: "We have been governed by fear for the last 6 years..." He gets a little academic at the end, but nice start, discussing the corrosive effects of the politics of fear.
Rachel (9:26:31 PM): Recall that they tussled in the last debate.
Rachel (9:26:37 PM): And she didn't back down.
Rachel (9:26:40 PM): Grudge match?
Rachel (9:27:03 PM): Oh look, it's Biden! Wow, the principle of equal time is not in play tonight, eh?
Rachel (9:27:14 PM): And can we have a moment of silence for Mike Gravel here, please?
John (9:27:23 PM): ...
Rachel (9:27:24 PM): Barely a whisper in the press about him being kept out of the debate.
Glynnis (9:27:39 PM): Potted plants and pregnant pauses...
John (9:28:13 PM): Dodd not only restates that this is "the most critical time in a generation," he reminds us that he said it before.
Rachel (9:28:20 PM): Dodd thinks the more immediate problem is Pakistan - Pakistan has suddenly come to the forefront (cf. last week's Newsweek cover story).
Rachel (9:28:39 PM): Dodd is good tonight. Strong and articulate and hammering his record.
Glynnis (9:28:41 PM): Dodd is reiterating what Biden has just said
John (9:29:10 PM): Crediting Biden, for better or worse.
Rachel (9:29:24 PM): The contrast between Dodd and Richardson is marked, I think. Dodd seems far more sure, and Richardson just seems to have this hopeful quality about him, like he's just hoping for a consolation prize at this point.
Rachel (9:29:37 PM): Wait, what? Who did Richardson rescue from Abu Ghraib?
Rachel (9:30:12 PM): Richardson does not know when to stop talking though.
Rachel (9:30:33 PM): The Abu Grhaib point is powerful. But it loses power when he keeps on talking.
Rachel (9:30:53 PM): The power of the pause is vastly underutilized in these fora.
John (9:31:39 PM): Bill Richardson brought a guy in the audience who he is saying he "rescued" from Abu Ghraib. Sounds like it could be a powerful story, but he does not tell the story, he just blurts out the assertion he rescued the guy.
John (9:31:41 PM): As much confusing as impressive.
Glynnis (9:31:44 PM): Just to go back to the staging for a second, Ben Smith at Politico has noted that this staging of "men in suits on either side, attacking her," may be just the frame her campaign is going for.
John (9:32:14 PM): Yeah, that does not hurt her at all.
John (9:33:22 PM): Hillary is already talking about her future cabinet as "my Secretary of Defense"
Glynnis (9:33:27 PM): Hillary speaks about herself as president in present tense: "we'll have to get my joint chiefs..."
Rachel (9:33:54 PM): "His policies have alienated our friends and emboldened our enemies" - great sound bite.
John (9:34:09 PM): Very comfortably slipping herself into the role.
Glynnis (9:34:49 PM): Everyone is "agreeing with Joe [Biden]." Very easy to see Biden emerging from these debates as Secretary of State.
John (9:35:16 PM): I have yet to see Obama look at Hillary. Perhaps he has when she is speaking and he is off camera.
Glynnis (9:35:24 PM): Has anyone seen Obama look at anyone directly?
Glynnis (9:36:33 PM): Edwards isn't having any problems addressing Hillary's positions directly, though he doesn't seem to be looking at her much either.
Rachel (9:36:45 PM): Demerit for MSNBC - just tried to link to their streaming download and got a "sorry, this video is unavailalbe."
John (9:36:46 PM): Edwards is speaking directly to voters here, explaining his differences with Hillary as "clear choices." The difference between his language and the foreign policy lectures from the Senators is night and day.
Rachel (9:37:04 PM): Oooh, Edwards, SNAP!
Glynnis (9:37:10 PM): Edwards: " I was surprised by Hillary's vote."
Glynnis (9:37:32 PM): Hillary jumps on the rebuttal.
Rachel (9:37:32 PM): Citing the NYT: Hillary has moved from primary mode to general election mode. He thinks candidates should be in "tell the truth mode."
Glynnis (9:38:10 PM): Hillary: I don't know how you pursue Al Queda without engaging them.
John (9:38:14 PM): Hillary is displaying great comfort in the face of these attacks: With a casual little smile, she says "I need to rebut this, I don't know where to start..."
John (9:38:25 PM): She's not ruffled at all.
Rachel (9:38:59 PM): Two hours? Aren't they usually 90 mins?
Glynnis (9:39:02 PM): Hillary: I intend to withdraw in a responsible manner.
Rachel (9:39:09 PM): BriWi is such a utility player - he's a meteorologist too!
John (9:39:13 PM): Can we order food now?
Glynnis (9:39:41 PM): Hillary is so sharp tonight. Edwards is not backing down. Obama is not stepping up.
Rachel (9:40:23 PM): Wow - Liveblogging the Dem Debate is front and center on the New York Times homepage.
Rachel (9:40:26 PM): Viva new media!
Rachel (9:43:07 PM): And we're back!
Rachel (9:43:41 PM): BriWi quotes Giuliani - a chance to refocus on the Republicans, and she does.
John (9:43:59 PM): BriWi reads out Rudy's attacks on Hillary and asks her to respond to his attack. Anyone else have an attack forher to respond to?
Rachel (9:44:01 PM): "Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue" - interesting phraseology.
Rachel (9:44:15 PM): Oh, what's happening with her voice? It just went up a notch.
Rachel (9:44:26 PM): She sounds like she's losing control just a tad - but it doesn't serve her well.
Glynnis (9:44:30 PM): Hillary opts out of addressing Guiliani directly and pulls the focus back...I think she missied and opportunity here.
Glynnis (9:44:55 PM): A swing or two at Guiliani wouldn't have been a bad idea.
John (9:44:56 PM): A little more shrill, not great. Not as shrill as in some times past, though.
John (9:45:31 PM): She is thinking there will be time for that, I think. She is rising above all frays for now.
Glynnis (9:45:32 PM): Russert wants to know whether she will reccommend releasing the archives.
Glynnis (9:46:30 PM): Russert seems to be leading by example as far as "taking the gloves off"
John (9:47:16 PM): Obama is drawing the connection between Hillary not releasing the records Russert asked her about and the Bush administration's secrecy.
John (9:47:26 PM): He casts it as a matter of trust.
Glynnis (9:47:29 PM): Obama just compared Hillary refusing to release the archive documents to the current "secretive" administration.
John (9:47:34 PM): And he even looks at her!
Glynnis (9:48:12 PM): 'The reason the GOP is focusing on you is 'cause that's the fight they're comfortable having'...Obama steps out of the corner!!
Rachel (9:48:13 PM): The more they attack Clinton, the more she has a chance to respond!
John (9:48:27 PM): And another thing, says Obama: Republicans are hankering for a fight with Hillary "because that is a fight they are very comfortable having" - i.e. in the 90's, and we need to move past that.
Rachel (9:48:39 PM): Politics of hope!!!
John (9:49:00 PM): Very strong language, not the strongest delivery, but a real, effective volley at her from Obama.
Glynnis (9:49:05 PM): Edwards picks up where Obama leaves off saying that the GOP "wants" Hillary to win.
John (9:49:30 PM): Edwards again delivers the 2 of the 1-2 punch following Obama.
Rachel (9:49:32 PM): The problem with dinging Hillary for raising the most money from this industries is that it's a blanket condemnation of the industries as a whole
Rachel (9:49:40 PM): There's no "good" money and "bad" money, on the whole
Glynnis (9:49:50 PM): If Obama can continue to deliver the strong language in a balanced tone I think he may be able to take the gloves off without getting dirty.
John (9:49:58 PM): "If [voters] want real change, they need someone who tells the truth about a system that doesn't work..."
Rachel (9:50:01 PM): It's the argument of the person whose coffers are far less full. It strikes me as a cheap shot.
John (9:50:37 PM): Hillary embraces the 1990's: I think we were making progress, and I'm very proud of it. She says this with a nice smile.
Rachel (9:51:02 PM): "Change is just a word if you don't have the strength and experience to make it happen."
Rachel (9:51:08 PM): And age ain't nothin' but a number!
Rachel (9:51:15 PM): Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose!
Rachel (9:51:16 PM): Etc.
Rachel (9:51:46 PM): Whenever Obama speaks, it feels like he's bringing it down. He's got the tonal quality of a soothing "shhhh."
Glynnis (9:52:25 PM): Obama looks at Hillary again. Hillary is talking about co-operation, "I've actually done it."
Rachel (9:52:29 PM): Er, snap?
Glynnis (9:53:10 PM): Looking at Hillary directly works really well for Obama; it allows him to show he's taking her on without necessarily doing it with language.
Rachel (9:54:27 PM): Richardson: "We elect governors as president." Well then! Voters, you have been duly instructed!
Glynnis (9:54:46 PM): Cause that worked so well the last time!
John (9:55:35 PM): Hillary did not come out of that one unscathed. She tried to stick with the smile and shrug it off approach, but the attacks were very direct.
John (9:56:00 PM): She didn't respond as strongly, either by directly challenging back, or by undercutting the attacks by being conspicuously unruffled.
Glynnis (9:56:45 PM): Dodd is very strong and convincing - a VP candidate?
Glynnis (9:57:01 PM): Dodd: "don't discount the importance of electability."
John (9:57:37 PM): Dodd? A very nice riff here, listing landmark legislation he has passed with republicans, using a great rhetorical rhythm. Where has this guy been?
Rachel (9:57:46 PM): "We're here in Philadelphia, where the founding fathers...." DRINK!
Rachel (9:58:09 PM): "I'm guilty! Guilty as charged!"
Glynnis (9:58:14 PM): Snore
John (9:58:30 PM): Edwards is confessing (and absolving) his sins before our eyes.
John (10:00:17 PM): Kucinich: Why shouldn't democrats stand for universal, single-payer, not-for profit health care?
Glynnis (10:00:37 PM): Biden: "I'm not running against Hillary Clinton I'm running to lead the country!"
Glynnis (10:01:14 PM): Biden is on to Guiliani's 9/11 schtick: "A noun, a verb, and 9/11."
Rachel (10:01:29 PM): Ap-snay!
Glynnis (10:01:52 PM): And now Biden points out to Bill Richardson that, in fact, he is NOT the only one to negotiate with foreign leaders. "Man!"
Rachel (10:01:58 PM): We interrupt this debate because the pizza is here. YAY!
Glynnis (10:02:39 PM): Russert is trying to take a big swing at Hillary.
John (10:03:39 PM): Biden had a pretty good go at Guiliani there: "Genuinely not qualified to be President."
Rachel (10:04:29 PM): I love when Hillary and Tim tussle. The electricity notches up significantly.
Rachel (10:04:40 PM): He's got a gotcha quote - Tim is READY.
Rachel (10:04:49 PM): And she's ready...for the SMACKDOWN!
Glynnis (10:05:12 PM): I wonder if he has any more secret Bill Clinton quotes up his sleeve.
Rachel (10:05:17 PM): And meanwhile, nailing her on her husband's record? Not worth all this airtime.
John (10:05:25 PM): Tim paints a very clear picture of her contradicting herself. She refuses to be "gotten." She calmly and insistently restates her position.
Rachel (10:05:48 PM): Oh. Well, I'm distracted by my pizza.
Glynnis (10:05:49 PM): And he comes off as a bit of a bully, I think.
John (10:05:56 PM): Whatever cleverness he had going for him, she fought it off fine.
John (10:07:00 PM): Now Obama discusses Social Security, turning toward Hillary and addressing her directly. He's explaining the issue now, see if there is a sharp barb at the end of this...
Glynnis (10:08:01 PM): Guiliani is the only GOP candidate getting name time here...are they making him the default candidate?
Rachel (10:08:37 PM): Giuliani is the Hillary of the Democrats!
John (10:08:54 PM): Is that a compliment?
Rachel (10:09:10 PM): Not for Giuliani!
Rachel (10:10:06 PM): Obama: "I don't pay much attention to what Mitt Romney has to say." ZING!
Rachel (10:10:25 PM): Obama handles this question nicely, by giving America the benefit of the doubt. Bravo! The politics of hope in action!
Glynnis (10:10:30 PM): I have to say, in comparison to Russert, Brian Williams is coming off as the voice of (objective) reason here.
John (10:11:36 PM): Obama gave a fine answer about people getting used to his name... but...
John (10:12:35 PM): if he cannot joke around a little and show us that big winning smile of his in that answer, it ain't gonna happen.
John (10:12:52 PM): And that is a shame, and a problem.
Glynnis (10:15:23 PM): Back from break - there are rule changes!
Glynnis (10:15:30 PM): Thirty second responses.
Rachel (10:15:57 PM): Does the 30 second time limit apply to him? 'Cause this is a looooong question.
Rachel (10:16:23 PM): (Sorry BriWi, but yer chatty!)
Rachel (10:18:07 PM): Edwards: "We need to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war."
Rachel (10:18:27 PM): Hillary framing this as a fight against the Republicans.
Rachel (10:18:34 PM): Throwing John a bone.
John (10:18:54 PM): Edwards, that is.
Rachel (10:18:55 PM): (Edwards)
Rachel (10:18:58 PM): (Sorry)
Rachel (10:19:35 PM): Obama gets a point here, talking about how he went to Detroit and said some unpopular things.
Rachel (10:19:48 PM): Before that, the talk was just that: Talk.
Rachel (10:20:13 PM): Kucinich is bringing this back to Iraq - which is fine, but you know what? There are other issues of importance in this election.
Rachel (10:20:42 PM): BriWi smoothly cuts Kucinich off - is that the frist time he's cut someone off this debate?
Rachel (10:22:03 PM): I'm getting irritated with all these candidates talking about "asking" Americans to cut back on energy use. That needs to be legislated, pure and simple, or otherwise incentivized. No one has gone further than namby-pamby idealizations here though.
Send Message Failed. Message is too long.
Rachel (10:22:29 PM): Dodd with a corporate carbon tax - finally, an idea!
John (10:22:47 PM): These guys are now just taking turns giving little policy speeches. None speaks strongly to voters' concerns and interests.
Glynnis (10:22:54 PM): BriWi brings up the environmental challenges facing the future president, notes fires in CA, lack of water in Georgia...is Dodd ready to lead?
Rachel (10:23:04 PM): You don't think? Heat, oil, how much things cost?
Glynnis (10:23:41 PM): Is Dodd pitching himself as the new Gore in terms of environmental leadership?
Rachel (10:23:41 PM): Dude, there are lakes disappearing in the south. It's unreal. Things are scary, and the problems will be big if the scariness comes to fruition.,
Rachel (10:23:52 PM): There's room for plenty more.
John (10:24:37 PM): Dodd's carbon tax idea is the first time anyone makes a strong case for themselves instead of the others on this issue. Not delivered especially strongly, though.
Glynnis (10:25:19 PM): You're right, though, these questions are less challenging than an opportunity for the candidate to showcase some ideas.
John (10:25:57 PM): Edwards is talking about New Orleans when no one else has, but with strangely little sense of outrage.
John (10:25:58 PM): He is looking a little clammy and sallow tonight. Not super healthy. And less smiling, less genial than usual.
Glynnis (10:26:25 PM): But now Russert has another question for Clinton, so safe to assume there will be some challenge.
Glynnis (10:27:42 PM): Hillary: we are not being asked to sacrifice anything! while young men and women are sacrificing their lives.
John (10:28:22 PM): Hillary is talking about the injustice of NOT being asked to sacrifice at all while our troops struggle in Iraq. She is composed, but mad - nice tone.
Rachel (10:28:25 PM): "No, I didn't say that, Tim."
Rachel (10:28:30 PM): Snappety-snap!
Glynnis (10:29:02 PM): She is not letting him put ANY words in her mouth.
Glynnis (10:29:47 PM): One gets the sense Russert is trying to get Hillary to say something that he can later use to throw back in her face...he doesn't do this with any of the other candidates.
Glynnis (10:32:13 PM): There is the growing sense that we will not be seeing much more of Kucinich or Richardson.
Glynnis (10:32:47 PM): Kucinich seems to be doing the hand actions to YMCA to explain his position on taxes and oil.
John (10:34:16 PM): hullo?
John (10:35:06 PM): Obama talks about the tax code, closes with the great sentiment about us being "all in this together."
Rachel (10:35:16 PM): Not that any of the candidates would know this, but that's a song from High School Musical. Here, watch and enjoy. There are lessons to be learned from Disney, y'know.
John (10:35:19 PM): Absolutely no expression on the man's face - not saying it sternly, not saying it warmly, not nothin. It's just another talking point.
Rachel (10:36:23 PM): Hey, it's Richardson! Does he have any experience as a governor of a state?
Rachel (10:36:29 PM): BriWi: "Time."
John (10:36:35 PM): I wonder what he would do..?
Rachel (10:36:37 PM): BriWi: "Time"
Rachel (10:36:42 PM): BriWi: "Governor?"
Rachel (10:36:55 PM): Kucinich is quoting....statues?
Rachel (10:37:04 PM): Is there any more pizza?
Glynnis (10:37:11 PM): Nope
Rachel (10:37:15 PM): No pizza left behind!
Glynnis (10:37:51 PM): twenty minutes left to go and the giddiness sets in
Glynnis (10:38:06 PM): Biden needs to say something funny.
Glynnis (10:38:32 PM): Hillary: "the family is a child's first school."
John (10:39:30 PM): Hillary does not seem comfortable here, oddly. She is suddenly shouting like the other Senators, rushing and straining to be heard.
Glynnis (10:40:03 PM): Education = thirty second answers...that in and of itself demonstrates where education figures in to the debates.
John (10:40:28 PM): Biden is looking very cool tonight. Serious but pleasant, calm, steady.
Glynnis (10:41:38 PM): Look how big Tim Russert's head is next to BriWi's. Just saying. Hard to miss.
Rachel (10:42:06 PM): You know what they say...big head, big Sunday morning talk-show platform!
Rachel (10:42:50 PM): Hallowe'en cheer! It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
Rachel (10:45:28 PM): BRIWI STOP TALKING!
Glynnis (10:47:10 PM): The lightning round rules do not apply to the hosts, apparently.
John (10:47:30 PM): Oh no, Biden flashed his trademark 1000-watt smile in the middle of explaining how insurance companies are looking over doctors' shoulders.
John (10:47:46 PM): Very good night for Biden up until then.
Glynnis (10:48:00 PM): I like his 1000 watts!
Rachel (10:48:00 PM): Yeah you do!
John (10:48:25 PM): Sure, when he's talking about children and puppies and our future.
John (10:48:45 PM): Not so much when discussing denial of needed health care.
Glynnis (10:49:04 PM): There are twelve long minutes left to this debate...we need some wattage.
Rachel (10:50:49 PM): Anyone here think that Hillary has been unseated as front runner?
Rachel (10:50:58 PM): I think Obama has inched ahead a bit.
Rachel (10:51:04 PM): Depends how much time there is for subtlety.
John (10:51:23 PM): Richardson looks sorta consternated -- but it's not clear if that's his reaction to the subject he's talking about, or his reaction to having to answer this question in such a short time frame.
John (10:52:11 PM): BriWi made Obama smile - yeah, sorry about the lightning round.
Rachel (10:52:12 PM): Russert isn't even BOTHERING to disguise his glee at taking another run at Hillary.
Rachel (10:52:37 PM): I like them! If this was a romantic comedy they'd totally be in love by the final reel.
Rachel (10:52:58 PM): I don't have a driver's license. But I'm a LEGAL immigrant.
Glynnis (10:52:59 PM): BriWi and Obama stroll off into the sunset.
John (10:53:01 PM): 'One of these days, Alice...!'
Rachel (10:53:04 PM): haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Rachel (10:53:40 PM): Ooh! Crosstalk! "No, I didn't Chris!"
Glynnis (10:54:18 PM): Dodd and Hillary are getting down over giving illegal aliens driving licenses. Hillary is backing Spitzer
Glynnis (10:54:29 PM): Russert just wants to make sure "he heard"
Glynnis (10:54:45 PM): ...Hillary correctly
Rachel (10:54:46 PM): This is Tim Russert's gift to Lou Dobbs.
John (10:54:46 PM): Hillary has now been backed into defending Spitzer's 2nd-rate compromise on driver's licenses for undocumented workers.
Rachel (10:55:20 PM): BriWi: "The internet can be a bit of a cultural Wild West." That one's for Vinny.
Rachel (10:55:32 PM): Wow - pile on Clinton again!
John (10:55:35 PM): And again, she wriggles away, at least mostly - going back to strongly restate the overarching point that Congress has failed by not passing comprehensive reform
John (10:56:06 PM): Edwards is now doing Russert's job: Hillary = doubletalk.
John (10:56:14 PM): BriWi cues Obama to pile on.
Glynnis (10:56:15 PM): Obama and Edwards bring the conversation back to Hillary's doubletalk.
Glynnis (10:56:37 PM): specifically in the last round regarding the driver's license.
Glynnis (10:56:58 PM): I think lightening round rules have stopped applying.
Rachel (10:57:20 PM): "The Godmother of your daughter, Shirley MacClaine..." both mine and Glynnis' heads snapped toward the TV just now.
John (10:57:21 PM): Does this seem mean, piling on, picking on the lady? Or is this wolf pack finally drawing blood?
Rachel (10:57:38 PM): Kucinich saw a UFO! Filled with little men with big ears! Wait a second....
Glynnis (10:57:41 PM): And obviously, with three minutes to go the conversation has moved to UFO's and shirley MacLaine.
Glynnis (10:58:43 PM): Obama knows that there IS life here on earth...regardless of where else it may be.
Rachel (10:59:00 PM): "We're not attending to life here on earth!" Nice refocusing. Seriously. Those were goofy questions, and if you're going to bar Gravel from the proceedings, you've got to make your airtime count.
John (10:59:31 PM): Obama is now smiling through an answer describing how kids and the elderly are neglected. Not ideal, but it's part of a very funny answer, and it's nice to see him enjoying himself again.
Glynnis (10:59:39 PM): If they can't fill two hours with reasonable questions why are they keeping us here this late!
Rachel (11:00:01 PM): Can I just say that I have been refreshing the MSNBC livestream this entire time and can't get it to work.
Rachel (11:00:10 PM): Then I clicked on the profferred embed code.
Rachel (11:00:23 PM): And I got this: "Getting a tutor - for sports?"
Rachel (11:00:26 PM): Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
Glynnis (11:01:13 PM): the weather outside is frightful
Rachel (11:01:24 PM): But not as frightful as toys from China!
John (11:01:30 PM): A new issue: decriminalizing pot. Dodd is pro. There's a clear difference.
Rachel (11:01:51 PM): "What happens late at night in a hot room!"
Rachel (11:01:57 PM): Wow. Oh, BriWi, DO elaborate!
Glynnis (11:03:01 PM): Russert and BriWi sort of resemble a modern day, Laurel and Hardy...as far as debate hosts go, that is.
Rachel (11:03:05 PM): BriWi asks what they are going to be for Hallowe'en...Obama will go wearing a Mitt Romney mask — "which has two sides." Zing! Hillary has Rudy, Obama has Mitt.
Rachel (11:03:14 PM): Goodnight, BriWi! Goodnight, Big Head!
Rachel (11:03:20 PM): Er, I mean, the debate is over.
Glynnis (11:10:20 PM): I think we got a glimpse of the Obama everyone wants to see, esp when he kept turning to Hillary and then challenged her on the archives.
Glynnis (11:11:59 PM): Obama needs to maintain that sharpness for longer periods of time. The "pivot" really works for him and he needs to figure out how to articulate that language-wise. That pivot needs to be quotable.
Rachel (11:16:29 PM): Wow. How are UFOs now a political issue?
John (11:18:12 PM): Which pivot?
John (11:18:37 PM): Oh, when he actually turned to look at her - yes.
John (11:19:55 PM): So Obama was not alone in taking shots at Hillary tonight.
John (11:20:17 PM): Tim Russert was more vigorous than ever.
Rachel (11:20:27 PM): Seriously? That was HOT. Rawr.
John (11:21:33 PM): Has that guy done a Republican debate yet? Those guys have a ton of stuff to attack them on. It would be interesting to see them get the Russert treatment.
Rachel (11:20:57 PM): Seriously? That would be HOT. Rawr.
John (11:22:28 PM): Anyhow, Edwards was extremely helpful in the piling on, and Dodd tried to help out a little as well.
John (11:23:00 PM): How successful were they?
Rachel (11:23:37 PM): Well, if UFOs and illegals getting drivers' licenses are the big takeaways of the debate, then Hillary won.
Glynnis (11:25:14 PM): Hillary maintained, I think. Obama gave us a glimpse of what people are hoping to see, he needs to up his game A LOT, though, and soon. Otherwise, Joe Biden has a spectacular smile.
Rachel (11:25:27 PM): Heart, meet sleeve.
John (11:25:51 PM): Their attacks were focused on integrity, which is firm ground for them to attack from without looking like they were ganging up on her. Some viewers may still have felt they were being unfair.
Rachel (11:26:27 PM): Oh, pshaw. She's the frontrunner. If she's sailing on to victory, then her tires should be duly kicked.
John (11:27:16 PM): She was certainly on the defensive somewhat, but she did not give in to the notion that she had been caught.
Glynnis (11:27:22 PM): Some viewer may feel that Russert is a secret operative for the GOP.
Rachel (11:27:32 PM): Oh, come now. He was doing his job, and well at that. BriWi and Russert make for a good tag team, though if BriWi is going to chide participants for going over time then he should really practice what he doth preach. Though good to know the weather, both inside and outside the debate hall. Raw, democratic heat, right there.
John (11:27:55 PM): Hillary did finally have a few moments where she clearly was not in command, and that is progress for Obama and Edwards, but she did not look embarrassingly beaten.
John (11:30:09 PM): Obama did do enough to fulfill the expectations he set. When he finally turned toward Hillary and challenged her on not being forthcoming on releasing her records, he looked strong and direct and made his point.
John (11:35:43 PM): Do we think any of this will change the polls or the dynamic in this race?
Glynnis (11:37:57 PM): No, but it might change the conversation slightly and leave a bigger opening for Obama at the next debate. At the very least, he can't be counted out.
Glynnis (11:38:21 PM): As was suggested at the beginning of tonight's debate by Chris Matthews.
John (11:39:29 PM): They landed a few punches on Hillary tonight. She is no longer cruising and in command -- she has at least a little bit of a fight on her hands.
Rachel (11:39:29 PM): Oh, they were glancing blows at best. No one drew any blood. Bo-ring! (Update: The consensus seems to be that the driver's license for illegals episode was a major gaffe, but I stand by my earlier assertion that, if that's the worst HRC has done, she's still doing bloody well.)
John (11:43:41 PM): And by attacking on the grounds of integrity, instead of some issue about which there is only thin disagreement, it's harder to accuse him of abandoning his commitment to a 'new kind of politics.'
Rachel (11:44:19 PM): THE UFOS ARE COMING!!!!!!!!!! RUN!!!!!!!!!!!
Rachel (11:44:28 PM): Pizza?
John (11:45:36 PM): Ok ok. I'm over my time.
Rachel (11:46:40 PM): Ding!
Rachel (11:46:49 PM): (Really soft ding)
John (11:47:26 PM) has left the room.
Glynnis (11:48:02 PM) has left the room.
Rachel (11:48:49 PM): Well then! Goodnight, and Happy Hallowe'en!
First two photos courtesy of the Associated Press; the rest from MSNBC.