PA Primary team reports:
So who won? We blog, you decide.
But...Obama was frequently tentative. Hillary, not so much.
Gas prices at $4 a gallon?
Hillary has an answer. Investigation. “There is market manipulation.” And she has an energy plan.
Obama returns to his theme: people are cynical because the nation has been talking about energy independence for decades, with nothing happening. He proposes an energy “Manhattan Project.”
Gibson asks if they are being hypocrites by having pro-gun control records, but spending the Pennsylvania campaign hanging with hunters.
Clinton again invokes Bill – on police officers and the assault weapons ban. (She’ll bring it back.) “I respect the Second Amendment...but most lawful gun owners…want to be sure we keep those guns out of the wrong hands.”
Obama is again less certain, and rambles a bit when asked about the Washington D.C. gun ban. Gibson asks him to deny that he advocated a complete ban on hand guns in 1996. Obama says no. But whatever the truth, no other answer is possible.
Does Clinton support the D.C. ban on hand guns? She favors “what works in New York.” Says there should be local control on guns. Which opens the door to the rules in Montana as well as D.C.
Obama says he would consider having people making more than $97,000 pay Social Security taxes on the higher income.
Clinton invokes Bill's economy again.
Clinton appears more assured than Obama. The problem with debating the details of economic policy, or any policy, for that matter, is the actual details can't be known until the Congressional sausage making machine kicks in. Or off.
After an hour they move onto domestic issues…taxes, housing.
A debate over capital gains taxes. Would Obama raise the rate? Pretty much. With a 15 percent rate, billionaires “are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”
Clinton invokes the economy under Bill. “We’ve lost that.”
“Good union jobs,” is her goal, she says. No mention that union ranks have been shrinking for decades. She praises Gov. Rendell. Camera cuts to him. He is slumped in his chair, but watching intently.
As for the tax: “I wouldn’t raise it above the 20 percent if I raised it at all.”
Clinton sounds more assured on a Middle East policy question - should it be us policy to treat an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel as an attack on US?
“I’d try and stop them from getting weapons,” he said. “I will take no options off the table…it is very important than Iran understands an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region…that would be an act of aggression”
Clinton is blunter. “An attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United state” but she would include Iranian attacks on other allied countries in the region, too.
To Clinton – if the military told you that pulling out of Iraq would give back all of the gains, would you still pull out?
“So we can begin with withdraw within 60 says…in a careful…manner” Loophole?
No one can predict what will happen, she says, when American troops leave.
Then Obama tries to take the high ground. Why are we “obsessed” with his comments and Clinton’s Bosnia account. Just mistakes, pretty irrelevant. How about changing the culture of Washington D.C.?
But the issues Obama complains about keep coming.
Why doesn’t Obama wear a flag pin. He tries to rise above it.
"There is no other country where my story is even possible.”
He decries "manufactured issues." Like a former member of the Weather Underground who he knew in Chicago. These are the issues the GOP are expected to use against him.
"This kind of game, in which anyone I know, regardless of how flimsy the relation is..American people are smarter than that."
One test will come April 22.
And Clinton tests it now. Says Obama served on a board with the man. "Certainly, the Republicans will be raising" the issue.
"I have a lot of baggage, and people have rummaged through it for years."
ABC and Clinton may be doing Obama a favor. Giving him a chance to address and, perhaps, knock down these issues, and on Tuesday see whether it work.
Clinton goes nuclear. Or at least deploys the blockbuster bomb in her suitcase.
First, Obama is asked what will you do when the GOP plays those sermons on TV again and again
“If not this, it would be something else.”
“I have confidence in the American people..when they see my track record, the work that I have done, I have absolute confidence they can rally behind my campaign.”
Clinton demurs. And opens the suitcase. “It is something that deserves further exploration…as leaders we have a choice who we associate with." Like, she says, Farrakhan and "giving the church bulletin over to…Hamas.”
"Charlie” Gibson for some reason starts off with a totally irrelevant issue – the vice-presidency. Who cares at this point?
Then he goes right for it. You were patronizing, Gibson asks. And didn’t you say actually what you meant?
Obama’s answer is awkward. Not a clean hit. He talks about people clinging to religion, which sounds a bit like what he said in San Francisco.
Can Obama beat McCain Clinton is asked? “We’re going to have a Democratic president. It’s either going to be Barack or me.”
Asked a second time, she says, “Yes, yes, yes.” Takes a punch for the party. Though she allows she’d be better. They both agree they themselves are best candidate.
Obama comes back to the elitist etc. He talks about his own faith, and Illinois gun owners. He is now a lot more comfortable.
“You take one (mangled) statement…and beat it to death….Its not helping that person at the kitchen table.”
“She’s adopting the same tactics” as the GOP has used. “They are frustrated and angry be cause this is what passes for our politics.”
(It would be fascinating to see their internal polling on the issue.)
Clinton notes the historic nature of their appearance. Neither she, a woman, or Obama, black, would have been allowed to participate in the deliberations at Independence Hall in 1776.
Seconds into the debate raises the "bitter" issue himself, but instead calls it "frustration." Will it inoculate himself against Clinton.
The small audience is already in the National Constitution Center. The debate is being billed by ABC as the "Prime-Time Showdown." Not quite the OK Corral, we trust. It will be moderated by ABC's Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.