The Democrats Spend a Little Time In Carson City

Eight of the Democratic contenders met today in Carson City in the first all-candidates forum of the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, The forum was hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, AFSCME. Nevada has one of those early caucuses, Jan. 19, so has grown in importance these days. Notably absent from the event was Obama. He instead chose to campaign in Iowa. The candidates where to take the stage separately over two hours. They first were allowed to make a brief opening statement and then answer three questions from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and representatives of AFSCME. The candidates did not get an oppotunity to engage with each other. First up was Chris Dodd. When asked about the possibilty of chaos by pulling troops out of Iraq, Dodd said, “How much more chaos could there be in Baghdad than exists today?” Dodd also said enough of this “on the job training”…. “It’s time for experience in the White House.” Dodd adminted he made a mistake when voted on the war, and said it was foolish to think that, “17,000 troops in a city of 6 million are going to sort out” the situation. He also pointed out that the Senate has spent the last few days debating about debating. Next up was Hillary. She addresed the Union audience with ideas of universal health care, and the right of collective bargining. Hillary said, “I want to have universal health care coverage by the end of my second term.” She was asked about some comments made by an Obama supportor (more on this down below), but sidestep that answer by saying, “I sure don’t want Democrats or supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction.” This was a theme sponsered most notably by Bill Richardson who asked for no negative stuff. Hillary did make a stab at Obama for missing this gig though by saying she was “proud to be here in Carson City.”.. “Glad to be talking to the people here today.” The third candidate to speak was Tom Vilsack. He spent most of his time talking about Iraq. Vilsack asked the audience, “I want to challenge every single one of you and ask a simple question, what have you done today? What have you done today to end this war in Iraq? It needs to be ended now. Not six days from now, not six months from now. Not six years from now. It needs to be ended now, and it is up to you.” I guess he is leaving all the work up to us. He spoke a bit a health care and closed with his he was an orphane story. Next was Edwards. He took a little jab at Hillary for her vote on the war in 2002. He has said his vote was a mistake, but he also said Hillary’s refusal to disavow her 2002 vote on Iraq was “between her and her conscience.” He referred to the audience as “brothers and sisters,” as if they where his union brothers and sisters. He also said he wouldn’t wait until his second term for universal health care, he would start it right away. After Edwards was Bill Richardson. He spoke about worker protection, and environmental protections. Also said it should be fair trade, not free trade. He also pleaded with the other Democrats not to tear each other down, instead concentrate their energy on taking the White House away from the Republicans next year. Joe Biden was up next and spoke mostly about the war. He also spoke about education, since his wife is a teacher. He also said, “We have an incredible opportunity to change the world, but Bush is going to leave the next president a mess that requires no margin for error.”
At the end of all this was Dennis Kucinich who said he he voted against the war in 2002 and, “People are looking for a president who does the right thing when it matters the most.” And the last candidate to speak was Mike Gravel who really doesn’t care, saying, “I don’t think it’s a big deal whether I get elected president or not.”
While all this was happening in Carson City there was a big to do about one of Obama’s new contributors, David Geffen, the entertainment mogul who co-founded DreamWorks studio. Geffen used to be a big Clinton backer, but that was Bill Clinton. Now Geffen says, “Everybody in politics lies, but they (the Clintons) do it with such ease it’s troubling.” He called Hillary coldly ambitious and, said Bill hasn’t changed his ways. Now Hillary wants Obama to give Geffen’s money back, but Obama says no. Obama said they didn’t seem to mind Geffen when he raised about 18 million for the Clintons in the 90’s. Then Obama’s camp sent another shot at Hillary for taking support from South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford who has gone on the record saying, “It’s a slim possibility for him (Obama) to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed,” ….. “Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose — because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket.” So Ford, who is black, said Obama a black, will lose and drag the whole ticket down with him, and that’s why you should support Hillary.
Today was a good day of firsts. First commercial for a major candidate; first big almost a debate gathering, and now some of the first good mudslinging within ranks. No matter how loud Richardson keeps yelling for the Democrats to not attack each other it is clear from the past few days, that, It Is On…
Alan Cosgrove

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