Des Moines Register
By DAVID YEPSEN
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton finally started getting some pointed challenges from her opponents in a televised New Hampshire debate Wednesday night.
Clinton stoically ignored the swipes, but the evening marked a sharpening of the dialogue in the Democratic nominating contest. It reflects the fact her poll numbers have started to climb and if the others want any chance of overtaking her, they need to keep that lead from getting larger.
It wasn't a good night for Clinton. Her weakest moment in the debate was when she repeatedly ducked the sensitive question of just how she'd make Social Security sound and Joseph Biden pounced: "Presidents are supposed to lead," he said as he looked at her. Some of the other candidates said they'd raise the Social Security taxes paid by wealthier Americans.
She also took criticism from her opponents for voting for legislation several of them said could be interpreted as giving President Bush license to go to war with Iran.
John Edwards noted that he, like Clinton, voted for the war in Iraq and came to regret it because of how Bush used that legislation to go to war. "We learned a very different lesson," Edwards said.
Biden also said getting a health care bill approved would be more difficult for Clinton because of her failure do get it done when she was first lady and because of "a lot of the old stuff" people associate with the Clinton presidency.
He then pointedly said he was talking about "policy, policy" issues, which had the same effect of injecting former President Clinton's Oval Office dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.
Christopher Dodd was challenged on a statement he made the other day quoting Bush as saying he expected Clinton to be the Democratic nominee.
Dodd said he was just noting Bush is a bad prognosticator but it had the effect of telegraphing that Clinton might be a loser for Democrats in a national election if she is the nominee.
Some of her foes also said Clinton should have pressed harder to get a national health care bill passed in 1993.
Edwards, too, took a swipe at the Clinton era, saying the administration "gave up" on health care and instead "we got NAFTA," the North American Free Trade Agreement that is increasingly unpopular with organized labor.
Clinton's best moment came when moderator Tim Russert pointed out she disagreed with a position taken by her husband, former President Clinton, on the issue of torture.
She made clear she'd be her own boss as the nation's chief executive by replying: "Well, he's not standing here right now."
Pressed about the difference, Clinton smiled and said: "Well, I'll talk to him later."
While the evening couldn't have been pleasant for Clinton, it opened a necessary discussion Democrats must have: If they don't probe her weaknesses, the Republicans will.
Democrats may well want to nominate her but they first need to see how she defends herself.
Register political columnist David Yepsen can be reached at (515) 284-8545 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Well according to Iowa there was only 3 candidates there, lets go to West Virginia:
In perhaps the most awkward moment of the debate, Russert asked Clinton whether she would allow an exception to the ban on torture in order to gain knowledge from a terrorist such as Osama bin Laden. She said she would not. "As a matter of policy, it cannot be American policy, period," she said.
Russert informed her that it was her husband -- "William Jefferson Clinton," he said gravely -- who had offered up that very scenario a year earlier. Clinton stopped and paused. Then she said: "Well, he's not standing here right now." Pressed by Russert on whether the couple have a disagreement on this issue, Clinton said with a wry smile, "Well, I'll talk to him later."
Wednesday night's debate was held on the campus of Dartmouth College and was one of six candidate forums sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, also participated in the debate, which was aired on MSNBC.
Well there you have it, Clinton hoarding the headlines like she hoarded the microphone last night, the 'last word' crap is getting old.
She should do the country a favor and go back to being a Senator for now and Obama should go back to the Senate too. What is it about 'critical election' don't they understand? Right now a woman and a black are unelectable in the US to the highest office in the land and 2008 is not the year to experiment. Clinton is bought and paid for by the arms industry and has supported them for years. Obama is inexperienced enough to cast doubt among voters and despite all the rhetoric, he is not white enough.
This election we need a solid electable candidate with major INTEGRITY to take the helm and drive us out of this fascist quagmire, not the time to bring in good but unelectable candidates, the NASCAR crowd is a huge demographic and both candidates are going to have to get those folks solidly behind them which is not going to happen.
However the first MALE candidate to drive a stock car around a track and dedicate time to those folks is a shoe in.
Dems, start your engines!