Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got feisty at last night’s debate. On Dr. King’s holiday, the issue of race, previously dogging the candidates, provided fewer fireworks than the onslaught of some brand new personal attacks.
Some highlights — Obama challenged Clinton's dedication to the poor:
While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.
Next, he went after Bill Clinton, implying that the Clinton machine has been dishonest, and venting that he “can’t tell who [he's] running against sometimes.”
Hillary took some swipes, too, accusing Obama of representing a "slumlord" when he was a lawyer in Chicago, and accused the Illinois senator of not answering for his record. The Clinton-Obama exchanges let Edwards appear as an issue-focused candidate:
This kind of squabbling — how many children is this going to get health care? We have got to understand this is not about us personally.
Amen, John! For more on the democratic heat in South Carolina,
The candidates also pointed to a few policy differences. Hillary charged Obama with straying from a central democratic tenant — universal health care. Together, Hillary and John, claimed that Barack’s plan fails to cover all Americans, which Barack hotly denied (check out powerful video of that exchange below). Obama's plan guarantees affordable health care without requiring everyone to buy it.
As for who won the debate, it’s tough to say, but Obama may have more to lose by turning negative and personal. If Hillary can get him off his positive message of hope, he will begin to look like any other politician. When given a chance to speak, Edwards stayed on message, this time hounding Obama more than Hillary. As for Hillary, she continues to demonstrate that she is a wizard for policy and details; but, I’m not sure if her personal attacks come off as shrill or dishonest.
Who do you think won?