Impressive theatrics - Soldier Field, packed with wildly cheering union members. The AFL-CIO wants to demonstrate that they are still a strong political force, and this is an excellent way to telegraph that. (John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, says "this crowd came out because we are so ready to change the direction of the country.")
Olberman is totally in his element - joking about lightning, joking about the heat. He will ask questions in the first round, the audience will ask in the second. How much is that a bow to the success of the YouTube debate?UPDATE:
Dodd doesn't have a chance, but I like him. He understands the event - he's treating it like a pep rally.
Clinton brings up her Chicago connection - her father was a Bears fan. Trying to be likeable.
Good point -- investment in infrastructure is part of improving national security. Connecting Minneapolis bridge disaster to "what happened to us on 9/11."2nd UPDATE:
Obama won't let Clinton's reference to Chicago roots go unanswered. Wait for it ---- yep, brings up the NFC championship won by the Bears. Gosh, these 90 second answers are short.
Jumps right on the Iraq-is-the-wrong-battle field theme.
Tough question for Biden - he has to defend his record as a Senator on protecting the infrastructure! Biden says, "We don't need any more studies. ... We need to put people to work and make this country safe."
"I can't wait to debate Rudy Giuliani on national security." That's a visual.3rd UPDATE:
Edwards looks like he ate something sour. "Who's going to change what has failed to happen in the past two decades in Washington?" ... now there's a dig at the Clintons.
ALREADY with the "no lobbyists' money." Cheers are not as big as I expected for the "stop a system that is rigged ... no more lobbyists' money" line.4th UPDATE:
Great, Kucinich wants governments to buy teams instead of just financing the building of stadiums. When is this guy going to figure out that he has to stop this campaign if he wants to keep his seat?
Richardson does a good job of seeming Presidential. He could play one on TV.5th UPDATE:
Whoa ... Clinton trying to distance herself from NAFTA. Good luck with that. (Nor fair to associate NAFTA with Clinton because of her spouse?)
Clinton says NAFTA is "part of the answer, but not the whole answer." Okay. Now everyone gets to jump on that.
Obama brings up lobbyists in the context of NAFTA. Everybody is saying they would fix NAFTA rather than scrap it. Is that good enough for this audience? I don't hear any cheering.6th UPDATE:
Ahhh, Kucinich would abrogate NAFTA, and withdraw from the WTO. Wild cheering from the audience. "I am your candidate!"
Clinton says she has "noticed that the other campaigns are attacking her." If you want someone to take on the Right Wing Machine, "I'm your girl!" Good idea for her to focus on defeating the GOP, since all the Dems are attacking her.
Obama is going all professorial. Look at the camera, not at Olberman! Stop lecturing! But he still gets cheers, makes good points.7th UPDATE:
Smart of Clinton to bring up the notion of dangerously tainted Chinese products. "We've got to be tougher on China going forward!" gets a big cheer. (No cheers for Edwards bringing up human rights abuses by China to its own workers - hmmm.)
Cute line by Kucinich - "If we dig a hole deep enough, you get to China ... and we're there!" I remember thinking about the idea of digging down to China as a kid, don't you?8th UPDATE:
Ah, good question for Obama and Clinton -- why did it take them so long to signal how they would vote on the Iraq supplemental last spring? Obama's not really answering the question. Clinton concedes that it was not an easy vote. She never stops looking beyond the primaries to the general.
Dodd is trashing Obama over his comments about acting unilaterally in Pakistan against Al Qaeda. Key moment - and he does not fumble. Obama reminds the audience that Dodd voted for the war, and tries to clarify his speech. "I think that's just common sense," he says. Gets a pretty big cheer. And, Obama goes over his time ... to more cheers.
Clinton is all over it. "You should think big, but if you're running for President don't telegraph what you are thinking. ... Don't destablize the Musharaf regime, when Al Qaeda-like successors could inherit nuclear weapons." Boos to that line, for some reason. Dodd apologizes again for his Iraq vote.9th UPDATE:
Whoa. Biden is faced with a question from a Sago Mine widow about workplace safety, and he tries to change the subject to talk about chasing Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Big boos. He deserves it. With this audience? How could he not know that he had to answer that question?
Richardson says he'd give veterans a "Hero's Card" that allows them to get health care anywhere, not just at the VA. Attractive idea, but a promise he probably couldn't keep.
Very moving question about vanishing pensions, from a retired worker who can't pay for his wife's health care. Great counter to the continual GOP assertion that everything is great with the U.S. economy. Perfect softball question for Edwards. "I want to be the U.S. President who walks out onto the White House lawn and explains to the American people how important unions and labor organizing are to the future of our country." He is cheered for going over his time limit. "Who was with you at crunch time?"
Clinton does a decent job of turning it around, reminding the crowd that she and Dodd helped pass legislation about mine safety after Sago.
Obama brings up a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants - why did he do that? But he gets in his background as an organizer, actively involved when the LTV plant in Chicago closed.10th UPDATE:
Biden again changes the topic instead of answering a question. Strike two. I'm sorry, but he is just too full of himself. He has to be more responsive to what's going on around him.
Clinton manages to squeeze two substantive answers into 30 seconds. She is the analytical one.
The "Lightning Round." Richardson gets a softball question about choosing a Vice President, handles it fine.
Clinton and Obama get questions about contributions from lobbyists. Obama denies getting money bundled by lobbyists. Clinton doesn't really answer the question. Obama does better ... "I'm running for you, not the people writing the checks."
Edwards distinguishes trial lawyers from lobbyists ... kind of complicated for a 30 second response. Always a tough sell, anyway. People don't like trial lawyers, until they need one.
Biden decries partisanship, says "We can't accomplish anything with a 51% solution." Good line. Present himself as being able to work across the aisle. Good pitch, wrong venue.
Ooooooh! Asking Kucinich what he has accomplished in Congress this year. Good question. He tries to portray himself as a leader in Congress. Good luck with that.
Obama: would you honor Barry Bonds at the White House? He talks about meeting Henry Aaron this week. "Sports should be something that kids can look up to." Olberman tries to get a direct answer, and Obama says he doesn't have to answer because Bonds hasn't broken the record yet. Sounds like a politician.
Biden has thirty seconds to say if he would stop no-bid contracts, says only "Yes." Even prodded by Olberman, remains silent. The crowd loves it.
Richardson says he represents "change, experience, and electability." He says that America elects governors. There is some truth to that.
Obama calls for improving the Democratic party, not just getting the Republicans out of office. he is clearly the visionary in the room.FINAL THOUGHT:
Clinton held her own. Most of them did well, but nothing happened that would dramatically shift the race. Some of the questions from audience members were the most moving moments in the event.