(Editor's Note: As the usual public service after the Democratic presidential candidate debates, this blog is providing video highlights of the salient moments. The debate was sponsored by ABC News. This debate was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.)
by Rick Rockwell*
Before, parsing the verbiage of this debate, first a commentary on the media.
Does anyone at ABC News think it was problematic that George Stephanopoulos was one of the questioners? As those of us concerned with journalistic ethics often note, it is not just impropriety that the media should consider in their reporting but the appearance of impropriety. How is it that someone who helped get President Bill Clinton elected, and then served into President Clinton's second term is then allowed to question the former First Lady who is now largely running on the popularity of that presidency? Certainly, Stephanopoulos asked tough questions of both candidates, but it seemed he saved the best zingers for Sen. Barack Obama. Obama rightly called him out for playing a type of guilt by association game that too many in the media have fallen into instead of reporting on important issues.
Thus, at least half of the debate centered on the gaffes and missteps of both candidates from the past five weeks and more. Sen. Obama (D-IL) was held to account not just for his association with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but also for his connections to former members of the Weather Underground. Questions about Obama's usual reluctance to wear a flag pin also surfaced. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) faced questions about her lies concerning conditions for her visit to Tuzla during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.
The debate began with some discussion of former Gov. Mario Cuomo's suggestion that Obama and Clinton should run as a joint ticket. However, one of the first questions concerned Obama's recent comments about how people cling to guns and religion, and whether those comments were elitist.
Later in the debate, the candidates discussed tax policy, Social Security, and gun control.
Here, the candidates conclude their discussion of gun control. But they also discuss gas prices, and their views on President George W. Bush, after his term is finished.
This is the last debate before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.
*Rick Rockwell is a former producer for ABC News.
For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
- "Barack Obama, Man of Mystery"
- "Hillary Clinton's Triple Play: RI to OH & TX;"
- "Texas Democratic Debate Highlights Plus;"
- "John McCain and the Republican Right;" and
- "Wolf Blitzer: Is Human Rights More Important than American National Security?"
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