That was the comment made by a lady who sat in front of me at this evening’s CNN-organized Democratic Presidential Debate at UNLV. I had to agree. As serious as the occasion was, it felt a little like a quiz show.
It started off with some mudslinging, provoked by questions from moderator Wolf Blitzer, who attempted to set John Edwards and Hillary Clinton off against each other. Booing from the audience let Wolf and the seven hopefuls know that Nevadans don’t take kindly to pot shots, no matter who’s taking them. When the candidates settled into a more serious discussion of real issues (Iraq, healthcare, education, immigration, energy policy), there was applause aplenty. There was also humor in abundance, especially from Biden, Kucinich and Richardson. The Q&A was lively, and the two hours went by quickly.
I don’t think there was a clear winner, although Biden did surprisingly well. He’s obviously a statesman and very knowledgable about foreign affairs. Kucinich got a lot of cheers, but was not taken as seriously as the others. Richardson may have gained a little among Latino voters for his “no border fence” position and successes in dealing with undocumented workers in Arizona. Dodd may have made headway, too, by answering one Hispanic questioner in fluent Spanish.
As the front runner, Hillary had little to gain. I felt she came up a bit short in many of her answers. I was not impressed by Obama this round. He stumbled at times. And Edwards, although passionate, did not convince me he’s got the vision I’m looking for in a candidate.
I enjoyed the debate immensely and would definitely recommend attending to anyone who has the opportunity. The experience did not persuade me to commit to a particular candidate yet, but I’ll be paying attention to them in the next couple of months from a fresh perspective.
(Note: No cameras or cell phones were allowed inside. I snapped this shot as I drove through the gauntlet of supporters lining the street on the way to the UNLV campus.) 5 years ago