Hello, Cleveland! Here we are tonight for the 20th Democratic debate — perhaps the final debate before the all-important Texas and Ohio primaries next week. I feel as though we've been here before, the final debate before Super Tuesday and Wisconsin and whatnot — but this really does feel like the end of the line (or, at least, many pundits would like it to be). The question tonight is: What kind of debate will this be? A hugs n' kisses lovefest or a no-holds-barred slugfest between one candidate riding high and the other desperate to pull herself back up? We're guessing somewhere in the middle, because that's the line they both have to walk: Hillary Clinton, trying to prove herself strong and confident and ready to lead, yet not as bitter and negative and attacking toward Barack Obama (no Xerox jokes, if you please); and Obama, frontrunner soaring 30,000 feet above who only has to not make any mistakes, but also can't be seen to be dismissive or arrogant — all while making sure to flex his substantive muscles. In between, moderators Brian Williams and Tim Russert will do their best to chart a course through the spin toward some sort of clarity. NAFTA? Health care? Mysterious photos of Obama in a turban? It's all fair game tonight — and we, your humble livebloggers, will be here every step of the way: Returning champion/writer/columnist Lloyd Grove, liveblog stalwart/Econolodge habitué Glynnis MacNicol, newcomer/mag publisher/politics junkie Raymond Roker and your moderator, HuffPo media editor Rachel Sklar (me). Meet us in Ohio, yo!
[To see video and other updates, check out HuffPost's Ohio Debate newsfeed here.]
8:56 PM Glynnis: Hello! Welcome to the season finale of the liveblog.
Lloyd: I need a drink.
8:57 PM I love love love what Tim Russert is wearing
Rachel: Okay! We are all set up. Hooray.
So: Do people look happy? Tense? Clinton's looking confident. Obama's looking chill. Everyone is on their feet.
Glynnis: Hillary looks a little tense.
8:59 PM Lloyd: this looks like the makings of a fairly unpleasant evening! cool.
Glynnis: The candidates are at a large round table seated with the moderators, Tim Russert and Brian Williams.
9:00 PM Rachel: Okay! Here we go!
Lloyd: it's vaguely unsettling to know that Keith Olbermann will be doing what I'm doing
Glynnis: Wow. This is the twentieth (!) Democratic debate.
Rachel: The music starts!
I sort of love this music. It makes me wish I was a figure skater.
9:01 PM "Exactly ten months ago tonight, eight democratic candidates gathered in South Carolina...now it's down to two."
BriWi says it could be their most important debate yet. Who knows? All Obama has to do is not screw up.
Glynnis: It's definitely Obama's to lose.
9:02 PM Lloyd: they both look extremely tense
Glynnis: Hillary looks like she's been crying.
Lloyd: I've been crying too
Glynnis: There are no rules according to BriWi.
And no flashing lights either.
9:03 PM Lloyd: Tim Russert look hot!
Glynnis: BriWi says they have a lot of ground to cover, which begs the question: what ground? I feel like after twenty debates the ground is well trodden.
Rachel: The NAFTA pamphlet and health care. And if they like each other. Ergo, ground.
Lloyd: I am honored to be here with Glynnis and Rachel, absolutely honored.
9:04 PM Glynnis: We are honoured to have you!
Lloyd: Are we using British spellings tonight?
9:05 PM BriWi starts by pulling a Russert on Hillary and comparing Hillary's moment of "honor" last Thursday with this week-end's "shame on you."
Lloyd: It's Obama's flyers and mailers that are very disturbing to Sen. Clinton....not the state of her campaign, haha
Rachel: BriWi effectively asks "Which Clinton is here tonight? The conciliatory valedictorian from the last debate, or the angry, crusading woman from this weekend?"
They're sitting down, so automatically are more pleasant.
9:06 PM Health plan! Finally, getting into those differences. I would love to hear them really get into this.
Lloyd: Hillary doing her Alpha female thing---setting the groundrules
Drudge Report gets lovely plug from BriWi
Rachel: From the transcript: "it's a debate we should have that is accurate and is based in facts about my plan and Senator Obama's plan, because my plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable. And on many occasions, independent experts have concluded exactly that. And Senator Obama's plan does not cover everyone. It would leave, give or take, 15 million people out."
Glynnis: BriWi doesn't let Obama follow-up but goes directly to the Drudge photo.
9:07 PM Hillary says that is not the sort of behavior she condones.
Lloyd: That's a good way of saving money, asking staff to leave the campaign over the Obama funny foto.
Glynnis: Obama takes the short and high road and says he takes Hillary's word and it should be left at that.
9:08 PM Obama wants to focus on health care.
Obama says the mailing he put out accurately indicates that Hillary would force individuals to purchase health care.
Lloyd: According to Sen, Clinton that is "accurate," Barack says, rebutting her characterization of his health insurance plan....He is subtly sarcastic. Barack does subtle sarcasm. Hillary does broad sarcasm,
Rachel: Here's the quote: "I have endured over the course of this campaign repeatedly negative mailing from Senator Clinton in Iowa, in Nevada and other places suggesting that I want to leave 15 million people out. According to Senator Clinton, that is accurate. I dispute it, and I think it is inaccurate." So what's the number?
9:09 PM Glynnis: Nor has Hillary indicated how she would enforce this mandate, according to Obama.
Lloyd: Hillary looks fierce
Glynnis: On top of all this, Hillary has been mean!
Rachel: I am confused....Obama is saying that the mailing is not different from any else in the campaign....so is he saying that it's misleading or not?
I didn't learn anything there other than he disputes Hillary's claim and her negative tactics greenlight his negative tactics. But he hasn't given any actual information either way.
9:10 PM Glynnis: Obama has taken it on the chin...up until now, perhaps.
Lloyd: Hillary's necklace and earrings look like chain mail. Is it sexist to talk about jewelry. Misogynist? Over to you, Chelsea.
9:11 PM The temperature in the debate studio is subzero. The emotional temperature.
Glynnis: I feel like Obama is on the weaker ground here - many people have pointed out that is was a mistake on the part of his campaign not to mandate health care at the onset.
9:13 PM Obama says they both stand for universal health care. Everyone who wants health care under his plan can obtain it.
But isn't the point of her health plan that everyone should be buying in, even if you don't know you want it till you need it?
Lloyd: Obama invokes "President Clinton's own secretary of labor" in defense of his health care plan--reminding everybody of all the Clinton cabinet members who aren't supporting Hillary.
Bill Richardson for instance
Glynnis: Obama says the insurance companies are on Hillary's side also.
9:14 PM Hillary is getting fired up on this.
She compares his plan to FDR saying social security is voluntary.
Lloyd: Uh oh. Hillary's starting to pump up the volume. Getting a little sarcastic and angry as she lashes into Obama's plan.
9:15 PM Obama smiling smugly
Glynnis: I feel like Hillary may be so fired up because she is seeing her health care plan once again slip out of her grasp.
Lloyd: Obama complaining of filibustering
9:16 PM Glynnis: Obama is not letting this go either. BriWi says this is it. But why? This is one of the only issues on which there is some daylight between the two of them...why not have a whole debate about it. The GOP certainly isn't talking about it.
9:17 PM Lloyd: How dare you question BriWi? Next you'll be quibbling with Tim⁄
Glynnis: This is an actual debate! Soon they may actually be looking at each other directly.
Rachel: This to me is the biggest deal here, and they have not excavated the differences between them. I really want to get into those disputed 15 million people - who are they? Are they uncovered because they can't afford it or because they're opting out? How does the opting out affect the rest of the country?
Oh okay wow they're getting into it. Hillary brings up the fact that young people think they're invincible; both say their plans cover children and parents who are bread-winners; I still have not heard Barack address the free rider problem.
[Update: Find the complete transcript of the health care exchange here.]
Lloyd: Hillary is starting to remind me of Hubert Humphrey? Am I dating myself?
9:18 PM Glynnis: Hillary is literally hot under the collar - her cheeks are flushed.
Lloyd: Do you believe that arguments are often a substitute for sex? Just throwing it out there.
9:19 PM Rachel: "Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow" - ouch. Would have been better if we hadn't heard it earlier on Ellen.
Glynnis: Hillary says that she always gets the first question..."perhaps we should ask Barack if he needs another pillow."
Rachel: It worked on Ellen. Not here.
My face is still registering "cringe."
Lloyd: Vote for the victim!
9:20 PM Glynnis: Wow. My face is registering Hillary showing cracks. That was not pretty.
Lloyd: I am woman, hear me whine!
9:21 PM Hillary finally indicates NAFTA was a mistake
Glynnis: I don't think this is going to be pretty. I get the sense that she is not going to go down easy.
9:22 PM The level this has already devolved to is not flattering to either candidate.
Lloyd: You mean after next Tuesday? I think she can be expected to fight till then without impunity.
with impunity I mean
9:23 PM Glynnis: He needs to be very careful to stay high and clear.
Lloyd: The audience is silent, holding its breath.
9:24 PM The Democrats in the room must be worried.
Rachel: Or, warned: The moderators tell them to keep it cool prior to the start.
Glynnis: Is it me or did Tim Russert just take a gentler tone with Hillary, as though he's not enjoying driving home her past contradictions the way he usually does.
Rachel: Ahhh, forgot about the Russert-Clinton antipathy.
Oil and water, those two.
9:25 PM Lloyd: Tim is not being too gentle now
Glynnis: Hillary looks like she might take this last opportunity to crawl across the table and hand Tim his liver on a plate.
This is not enjoyable.
Lloyd: That I would like to see!
9:26 PM Obama seems to think he can win this debate by just watching Hillary fight with Russert, and he might be right
9:27 PM Glynnis: I feel a Howard Beale moment coming unless the tone gets dialed down a bit, but I fear Russert has smelled blood in the water.
9:28 PM And now Obama swoops in cool as a cucumber.
Lloyd: Obama trying to spread a soothing balm over the supperating sore that is this debate--"Sen. Clinton is right."
9:29 PM Glynnis: John Neffinger from DC just chatted Rachel: "This is gibberish to much of the audience. All they see is her losing her cool and raising her voice shouting about some policy thing."
9:30 PM Is it me or has Tim just shifted into an "old boys network" tone?
9:31 PM Lloyd: I have seldom seen more unpleasant, viscerally unpleasant television--well, maybe a Barbara Walters special.
Rachel: He is very cool tonight.
You can really see how he has improved over time.
Glynnis: Gee, I wonder who's side Tim Russert is on?
9:32 PM Why isn't Russert asking Obama to "commit right here" to some of his pledges?
Lloyd: Obama is very "cool" on television, in the way that Marshall McLuhan would have put it in his very Canadian way. I feel very Canadian tonight.
9:33 PM This is wonktastic.
9:34 PM Rachel: Clinton is pulling a Mitt: Promising job creation in the beleagured state in which she is seeking votes.
Lloyd: Hillary is talking policy details that show her mastery but don't make for compelling political communication.
Rachel: BriWi in specs!
Glynnis: Hillary says that the loss of jobs in upstate NY happened because she had anticipated a Gore presidency and Democratic Senate, which really doesn't cut it as an answer....sort of like the Clinton camp anticipated a Feb 5 end date. I think the point is to anticipate the un-anticipated, no?
9:35 PM Lloyd: Speaking of which, it reminds of Election Night 2000, when Harvey Weinstein took a bunch of folks up to the Clinton suite in the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, and the President ticked off all the states where Nader denied Gore a victory.
9:36 PM And somebody in the room, who'd had one or two or three too many beers, stood up and said, "I want to kill Nader.:
9:37 PM Glynnis: We are on to Iraq now.
9:38 PM Lloyd: "Just a speech"--Hillary's locution.
Glynnis: Hillary says that Obama has threatened to bomb Pakistan. Obama shakes his head and smiles to this.
Lloyd: Obama "basically threatened to bomb Pakistan"--John McCain's attack line taken up by Hillary.
9:39 PM "My objections to the war in Iraq not simply a speech"--a little flash of anger from Barack
9:40 PM Glynnis: He also says it's not an I told you so, but an illustration of his decision-making process.
Lloyd: Obama taking no prisoners on his criticism of Hillary's Iraq stance.
Glynnis: Obama: Hillary often says that she's ready on day one, but the truth is she was ready to give in to Bush on day one.
9:41 PM Lloyd: How will this debate end, in fire or in ice?
Glynnis: Obama: my claim is not simply based on a speech.
Words are taking a beating in this campaign.
9:42 PM I think Tim Russert and Obama are wearing the same tie.
Lloyd: Russert:"Get out now!" He sounds angry too
Rachel: Was that just Russert method acting?
"Get out! Get out now!"
9:43 PM Glynnis: I think that Russert is freaking out that this is the last debate...maybe he will be doing the Howard Beale.
Lloyd: Russert for President!
Glynnis: On a ticket with Jerry Springer.
9:44 PM Lloyd: Russert is being obstreperous! what? Did he say "go to hell"?
Rachel: "You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals."
Lloyd: Guess not. Iraq "goes to hell"
Glynnis: Tim Russert wants people to know that Presidents come and go but he is forever.
9:45 PM Rachel: I love those two. If they were in Sartre's "No Exit" they wouldn't need a third person.
Lloyd: What other curse words will Tim try?
"Hell is other people"
9:46 PM Rachel: Hell is liveblogging? Hel-lo, liveblogging!
Glynnis: At least Tim is being just as tough on Obama at the moment...no cushions for Barack from Tim.
9:48 PM Lloyd: Television doesn't stop, but campaigns do.
Glynnis: BriWi says television doesn't stop for anyone! Only the advertisers.
9:49 PM It's a hot town in the whole town tonight!
Thought so far?
9:50 PM raymond has joined
Glynnis: Hillary is having an uphill battle. This is the closest to the edge I've ever seen her, that's for sure. Not sure it appeals in the same way as tears.
Lloyd: Brian should ask her how she is doing.
9:51 PM Raymond: Tim, where have you been?
Rachel: We are joined by Ray, who got on the train the wrong way and ended up in Queens. Welcome, Ray! We hope your ability to navigate policial doublespeak is slightly better than your ability to navigate the New York City subway system.
9:52 PM Glynnis: Hi Raymond. Welcome.
Lloyd: Hillary is absent when they come back.
Raymond: thanks, Glynnis, please specify that huff Po isn't in Forest Hills next time ;)
Rachel: "We are in a large arena..." HUGE cheers for BriWi. They must know he's funny.
Glynnis: Oh she's back now...to a standing O. Bathroom break?
9:53 PM Lloyd: Getting a pep talk from Howard Wolfson?
Rachel: They are replaying a lot of her clips
Lloyd: Broad sarcasm!
Glynnis: And none of his.
Rachel: Here's the clip of her poking fun at Obama's lofty optimism.
Obama: Sounds good!
Lloyd: Obama comes up with first laugh line of the debate. "Sounds good."
Rachel: Obama stepped on BriWi's line!
Lloyd: That laugh!
Glynnis: Maybe we're playing nicer now?
9:54 PM Rachel: Obama gives Clinton "points for delivery." Honey dripping with vinegar, or vice versa?
Raymond: It's a very 2008 debate where televised clips are used as talking points for moderators
Glynnis: Thus far only Hillary clips.
Raymond: as if this was spurred on by thr YouTube 'gotcha' generation
Lloyd: Patronizing. Obama must picked up that skill in "In-do-nesia." during kindergarten
9:55 PM Raymond: Hillary clips are so much richer in SNL fodder
9:56 PM Glynnis: Barack is taking it back to the soldiers.
Obama is not interested in talk or speeches.
He's interested in helping.
9:57 PM Lloyd: Hillary says "its hard to find time to have fun on the campaign trail." You can say that again, sister!
9:58 PM Of course Obama voted yes on his cousin Dick Cheney's energy bill!
Rachel: Hillary wants to get special interests money back and "invest it in the middle class." Now she's namedropping - Toledo, Dayton, Cleveland - the special interests are not going to give up without a fight, and neither is she.
9:59 PM Glynnis: An Obama clip!
Rachel: BriWi and Russert are playing the Meet The Press gotcha gaRachel: "Here's a clip! What did you mean by that?"
Lloyd: Those graphics are disturbing.
Raymond: Obama shows no freying around the edges. Even in the heat of Clintonian sacrasm--her recent heavens' bites on his 'We are the world' speeches--he can laugh it off
Glynnis: In it Obama is slamming Hillary for claiming experience from being First Lady.
Raymond: He effectively diffuses her sting to a mosquito bite
Rachel: Obama is going after her eight years as First Lady. He doesn't begrudge her "claiming that as experience."
10:00 PM Glynnis: "Which is fine."
Rachel: Says "you can't take credit for the good things that happened and then, with something like NAFTA, say that you were against it behind the scenes."
Okay - a note - what is the truth? Because if she WAS against it, and demonstrated foresight in that - that's relevant.
Raymond: But, at the same time, plays into the hands of those who see him as the calm, cool collected male and her as the shrieking female counter insurgent.
Lloyd: Obama is a very skilled debater.
10:01 PM Glynnis: Obama doesn't do well with sarcasm.
Rachel: Or, saith Obama - "I voted for it but I hoped it wouldn't pass" - he says that if you don't want something to pass, you vote against it.
(Or, you know, you vote.)
(Yeah, I went there.)
10:02 PM Raymond: A little unfair to use the struggles of the early days of the Clinton administration in 1992/93 as indicative of Clinton 3.0
Glynnis: Obama just said he knows "hope is not enough." Like tears? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tears_Are_Not_Enough
Raymond: But Hillary hangs her hat on that enough for Obama to use it against her
Lloyd: Obama is aggressively trying to skewer her.
10:03 PM Rachel: Russert moves on to public financing.
Lloyd: Russert: "Keeping your word. Nothing more important." Who died and put him in charge?
Glynnis: Russert to Obama: there is nothing more important than keeping your word, yes? Danger.
Rachel: Obama wants a system that is "fair for both sides."
Raymond: If you can recall, the Mr. Clinton administration won a non-popular victory in a very contentious election where he was derailed by his own failings as well as radicalized and harsh Republican bombardment.
Rachel: So wait, did he say he'd accept it or not?
10:04 PM Raymond: There was little choice but to have a bunker mentality . . . But I digress.
10:05 PM Glynnis: Russert is not interested in all these "words" from Obama: so you MAY opt out of public financing?!
Rachel: Obama wants to take it to a broader place; Russert says, "So wait, you're going back on your word?"
Raymond: The Clinton Achilles heel!
It's buried under the library, I tell you
10:06 PM I've lent my business money. Trust me, this is not a source of pride
Rachel: Hillary says that she's raising a million dollars a day...and uses the opportunity to invite people to contribute! Ha - see BriWi - she DOES understand how TV works!
Glynnis: Hillary says the American people are supporting her campaign...on American person in particular at the moment...a certain H. R. Clinton.
Lloyd: On one of the Clinton tax returns back when he was governor of Arkansas, he was taking deductions on underwear given to Good Will. Presumably he's stopped that...We'll see.
10:07 PM Glynnis: Russert wants dates and details! When when when. Dammit.
Raymond: Release the hounds (sorry)
10:08 PM Obama has managed--and this current debate thread confirms--the exact amount of real congressional/senatorial experience you can have and still hope to get elected
Lloyd: Lewis Farrakhan enters this election cycle, too.
Glynnis: He's like Nader that way.
Raymond: Anything more--or a higher dose of Capitol Hill Kool-Aid-- and you're in Clinton-ville
10:09 PM Lloyd: Pasty white guys always demanding skinny black guys denounce other skinny black guys.
Raymond: Did Russert just play the Farrakhan card?
10:11 PM Blacks and Jews, I've been waiting for this moment
10:13 PM As a black kid growing up Jewish and mixed, this is a watershed moment--nationalized debate where the true history of Jews and blacks illustrated
Rachel: Hillary would like you all to know that she, too, has rejected the support of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups. Just sayin'!
Lloyd: Uh oh. Hillary going after Barack for declining to reject Farrakhan;s support.
Raymond: Bravo to Mr. Obama for giving a quick history lesson of the social justice communal thread that links these two disperate communities
Rachel: We got Raymond yes we do, we got Raymond how 'bout Jew?
10:14 PM She agrees with Barack, but more strongly.
He says he agrees back, but agrees that they agree. She doesn't get to agree more.
Raymond: I just go back to my boy Yosi who helps head up Obama's California press office. Can't we all get along?
Lloyd: Obama pretty cute.
Rachel: One rejects, one denounces, but they'll never, ever agree on the pronunciation of "tomato."
10:15 PM Glynnis: They are splitting hairs over rejecting and denouncing. I fear this is a debate too far.
10:16 PM Rachel: Okay! This is a Dem campaign for everyone: A woman, an African-American — and both of them are good for the Jews!
10:17 PM Raymond: Calm, cool and collected. This is Obama's mantra. H.R.C. should have taken a play from this book about six months ago. at this point, it's tough to not just seem tired and annoyed/annoying
10:18 PM Lloyd: I wonder what Chelsea thinks of all this.
Rachel: So how do we think this is going?
This is the No Exit debate.
Glynnis: There is nothing constructive going on here.
Lloyd: I need a drink.
10:19 PM Rachel: BriWi: BarO, the NatJournal says you're the liberalest Senator. What do you think? Are you?
10:20 PM Raymond: This reminds me of when you've had all the break up arguments you can have. Nobody is winning. the friends have chosen sides. The pets have even picked their new owners. but, still, you fight on.
Into a dismal and sinking malaise of droning accusations and heavily defended and calcified positions
10:21 PM Rachel: Obama is very good at turning quesitons into opportunities to point out how great he's doing. So far we know he's raised tons of grassroots money, gotten newspaper endorsements and attracted Independents and Obamapublicans.
Raymond: I'm sorry, I wanted this to continue. But he's got such a grasp of the communication--he literally just said 'The proof is in the pudding!'
Rachel: Is there any context in which the word "Putin" won't make me sorta want to giggle?
10:22 PM Hillary says it will be someone hand-picked by Putin, who Putin can control....fun word!
Lloyd: Russert asks about Putin's successor. What can you tell me about him? We are in the pop quiz portion of the debate. Hillary aces it.
Rachel: Ray just said "Putin on the Ritz" - okay dude you can stay.
10:23 PM Glynnis: Does Hillary know the name of Putin's successor? I have to say my money is on "yes."
Rachel: I'd like to finish this liveblog but I don't want to Russia you.
Lloyd: It's Chernienkovsky
I think Sen, Clinton speak accurately about him"--obama. He is so lucky she went first!
10:24 PM Raymond: They're both reciting what has been largely reported in the mainstream news about two months ago
Glynnis: Russert calls her on it...but did Obama know it?
Raymond: Chernienkovsky is a puppet
Lloyd: Betcha he didn't
Rachel: Okay I've got to get this posted so everyone at home can find "Putin" as funny as we now are. "Mr. Putin" sounds even funnier.
The new prez of Russia is only 42?? Is he single?
Lloyd: Russert was obviously deep in Wikipedia before the debate
10:25 PM I'm rootin' for Putin
Raymond: There are two types of women in politics--the Golda Meir/Thatcher style and the Clinton style
10:26 PM Lloyd: This election has to be about the future"
10:27 PM Hillary shoulda said that from day one
Raymond: The Clinton style may put themselves in a position--in order to prop herself up against the forces spurring her on to be militarily sound--may not act on her own judgment, as much as her desire to be seen as strong
May put herself, sorry
10:28 PM The Clinton style worries me
Glynnis: Hillary is not so good at these either or questions. Russert helps her clarify: yes she does want her Iraq vote back.
Rachel: Here is Obama with the last word.
10:29 PM Lloyd: O-Balm-A!
Rachel: "There is still a lot of fight to go in this contest - four more to go."
Oh! He's doing the valedictory!
Raymond: Can you feel the love in the room?
This is called a victory lap
Glynnis: Obama tries to do his own version of the "I'm very proud" closer...not nearly as spontaneous as hers last Thursday.
Lloyd: "There is a vanity aspect and ambition aspect to politics"--honest of Barack
10:30 PM Rachel: "Senator Clinton is an extraordinary public servant...when you've spent as much time as Senator Clinton and I have spent going around the country...and heard the heartbreaking stories....it is absolutely critical that we change how business is done in Washington."
Raymond: In all seriousness, Obama illiustrates how he would diffuse the tensions in D.C. too, this debate and the 19 previously as evidence
Rachel: Upshot:They're both gonna be fine - but will America?
Glynnis: I think Russert wants to have the closing statement.
10:31 PM Rachel: BriWi with cleanup: What is the fundamental question HRC has to answer in order to prove her worthiness as a nominee?
Glynnis: Will we be fine...I think we may have reached toxic debate levels.
Rachel: Obama: I think she is worthy as a nominee..."I think I'd be better, that's why I'm running."
He also respect John McCain except for the whole 100-years-in-Iraq thing (and tax cuts to the wealthy....etc.)
10:32 PM Glynnis: Obama says forget asking her the question. Let's talk about me.
Rachel: Why am I better? I can bring the country together in a unique way - across race, religion, region - and that's what's gonna be required in order to deliver on the issues we both care so much about.
Raymond: Articulation--Clinton wishes she could do it the way Obama does. Hell, I'd LOVE her to have.
Rachel: Okay now we're getting to his record.....Wait. Wasn't this supposed to be a question about her?
It's 10:32. Isn't "The Biggest Loser" on now?
10:33 PM Lloyd: It's about Tim Russert!
Rachel: Now it's Clinton's turn: "There isn't any doubt that both of us feel strongly about our country...."
Raymond: Watch it, she's going for a blade
Glynnis: I don't think so.
Rachel: "...that we bring enormous energy and commitment to this race...ad would bring to the general and the White House."
Lloyd: But for the honor of it, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.
Raymond: If she avoids the instinct to cut him down during this final salvo, I will give her kudos
10:34 PM Rachel: "As I said last week" — AS I SAID LAST WEEK! — "-- I am honored to be running with Barack....."
Raymond: So far, in all the past debates, she's failed to restrain heself
Glynnis: She sounds calm, or is it resigned?
Lloyd: She's a spent force?
Rachel: "...and either one of us will make history." The question is: Who will be the best president AFTER that history has been made? A black president, a female president - after that which one will be the best to govern?
10:35 PM A mother in Ohio: "Will you help us?"
Saith Clinton: "That's what my public life has been about."
Raymond: Obama is his most 'interested' in what Clinton has to say when she's on the health care subject.
It's still the one area where he feels vulnerable, and maybe incomplete
Glynnis: She mentions her life's been about public service. No one can argue that.
Lloyd: What is the sound bite of the debate? I suspect something from the brass-knuckled beginning which is what most Americans will see.
Raymond: She's not been able to co-op this advantage
10:36 PM Lloyd: Obama, with the pulling out Hillary's chair move again
Rachel: Wow it's over - that's it - "Goodnight from Cleveland Ohio" - or, as Nigel Tufnel would say, "Goodbye, Cleveland!"
Raymond: Thank god, an absence of CNN motion graphics!
Rachel: And now we're in the postgame.
Lloyd: Good luck, Cleveland!
Rachel: This is the Place for Politics, not the Best Political Team on Television.
10:37 PM There's Huma! ("It's not a Huma") (Said in Schwarzenegger voice)
Glynnis: I think you're right. I don't remember anything specific from the first half, though, except Hillary suggesting this was like SNL and some one should offer Obama cushions. Other than that, it was just painful.
Rachel: Okay - Olbermann says Obama scored more points but they were field goals, not touchdowns? Wha? I think I made that last part up.
10:38 PM Wow. Chris Matthews just mentioned "Brigadoon."
Chris thought the SNL joke fell flat. Message: Leave the jokes to the comedians.
Wow, not a lot of support for Clinton on MSNBC. Shocker!
10:39 PM Lloyd: I think the Dems will be happy if this ends soon and all the nastiness ends up in God's sea of forgetfulness.
10:40 PM Rachel: God, I think we all will.
10:41 PM Glynnis: No new ground here, unless you count the level this devolved to.
10:42 PM Raymond: OK, can they please disallow text messaging votes!?!
Glynnis: Hillary showed some real cracks, in particular the SNL remark, which was far below what she's capable of.
10:43 PM Raymond: This is not 'Making The Band'
10:44 PM I'm not sure I want Barack to be seen as 'cool'--or hip.
Is any other candidate been called 'cool'? Can somebody Google that?
I'm trying not to go 'there'
Rachel: McCain is cool. You raise an interesting point. Two of the cool kids facing off. Danny Zuko vs. Kenickie? Discuss.
10:47 PM Glynnis: Oh Russ and Matthews...so gleeful together.
10:48 PM Raymond: OK, let me retract any Golda Meir commentary. I was reminded that I don't know jack about her since I was six when she was giving the order to assassinate the members of Black September.
10:49 PM My point was that the concern with Hillary is that she may overcompensate for her being both a Democrat and a woman, as she will be targeted from the moment she sits in the Oval office as somebody who won't project American power.
Rachel: I disagree. That, if anything, is something she's articulated as being a regret - her efforts to project steely strength to vitiate that impression. Which she absolutely has done. I honestly have to say that I don't really recall seeing anything about her being weak or unable to project power.
10:50 PM Glynnis:: Sum-up: this was not a pleasant experience. They should have stopped at the last debate, which ended on a graceful note, at least. Neither of them showed themselves in a particularly flattering light...obviously Hillary is the worse for wear here.
Raymond: This is clearly laced with some gender bias, but is the reality of what she will combat as the first female president.
PM Rachel: It was pretty substantive - health care, NAFTA etc.
11:01 PM Rachel: Livebloggers - the pizza is gone, the Cadbury Mini-Eggs are depleting, we've polished off a case of Diet Coke and I think Lloyd still wants something stronger. Is our work done? I think so. Thanks to all of your for joining us tonight — please let us know what you thought in the comments section, and what we missed — we'll be piping up to answer questions and adding in pics and video so keep coming back! Liveblogs only get better when you edit them. Until then, our takeaway: A non-decisive debate in which neither candidate stood out, where neither scored much of a point, from which little new information or clarity was extracted. Also, per Glynnis, sorta painful to watch. Per Rachel Maddow on MSNBC: John McCain won this debate. Yikes. On that note...goodnight! Let us know if we can get you an extra pillow.