WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said he thinks he set himself apart from the other candidates on Thursday night at the Democratic presidential forum by establishing himself as "the peace candidate."
"I'm the real deal," Kucinich proclaimed.
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's about an hour after the Democratic presidential debate ended and the spin room is slowly clearing out. But Democratic presidential candidates Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich still linger to talk to reporters.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - While top Obama strategist David Axelrod predictably touted his candidate's performance at Thursday's debate, he was mum on the battle for fundraising dollars.
"We'll see," Axelrod said with a smile, when asked if Illinois Sen. Barack Obama would beat top rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, in second quarter fundraising.
"I feel good about what we have done," Axelrod added. "As I speak we have received donations from more than 250,000 people, which is historic - it shows the support at the grassroots."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - "Black voters are looking for a candidate who is both battle tested and willing to champion their issues," says CNN Political Analyst and Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, who was in the audience at tonight's debate.
When asked if there was urgency in this debate, Brazile said that, in her opinion, "Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich were the only ones who saw how necessary and urgent it is to fix the racial divide in our country. The urgency was totally lacking from some of the other candidates who clearly believe African-American voters can simply wait for a new occupant in the White House."
Brazile said that "this type of debate that focuses on minority issues is a reflection of what happens when the contenders are those who are not just stale, male and pale."
Brazile went on to say that tonight's debate was "another demonstration of the boundaries that this 2008 race breaks. Diversity matters, especially when the topics are education, health care, HIV-AIDS and the criminal justice system."
So who won the debate? Brazile says, "I didn't think that anyone knocked it out of the park. But they spent some time addressing problems facing a large segment of the American electorate"
Brazile says "the candidates are all champions of civil rights, and could have used their own personal stories and battles to better connect with the audience and reach the congregation watching at home."
But she says they didn't.
As to which candidate offered hope, Brazile says, "It's too easy to paint the disastrous picture of race in America, which most of the candidates did." But she said they didn't do much else.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, told reporters in the Spin Room after Thursday’s Democratic presidential forum that he’s “talked the talk and walked the walk” when it comes to dealing with race issues in the Senate.
“I’ve done a lot of this,” said Dodd, who directed reporters to review his legislative record. He also said the forum “went well” for him.
– CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick put his stamp of approval on Thursday's debate, calling it "very useful and positive."
Patrick wouldn't say if any candidate stood out, but said they all differentiated themselves "from the Republican candidates in their proposals with regards to issues affecting the lower class."
Patrick is the country’s only black governor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Campaign surrogates were out in force in the spin room following Thursday’s presidential forum. A sampling of their spin:
Sen. Bob Menendez on Clinton’s best moment: She noted that if HIV/AIDS mainly afflicted young, white women, it would have been eradicated already. "She showed her wealth of experience, depth of knowledge and core principles that are important to minority communities.”
Biden spokesman Larry Rasky on Biden’s best moment: “The last answer on Darfur. . . In the last debate he really called the field out on the no-fly zone and using troops. It’s interesting that Sen. Clinton has changed her position since the last debate.”
Richardson chief of staff David Contarino on what his boss needs to separate himself from the pack: "More of the same. He's moving up in the polls. People just need to get to know his record. Nights like tonight help."
– CNN’s Lauren Kornreich, Alex Mooney, and Xuan Thai
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel made the trip to the Spin room following tonight's presidential forum and defended his earlier comment that several of the Democratic presidential candidates lack all "moral judgment."
Asked to clarify what he meant by the statement, Gravel said the Senate Democratic candidates who supported the war's authorization "squandered the money that could have gone to Katrina, healthcare and other projects."
"That is a lack of moral judgment," he said.
"This is a competition for president of the United States, not president of Harvard," he added.
Sens. Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and former Sen. John Edwards all voted to authorize the Iraq war.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel said he thought he was treated unfairly in the two previous Democratic presidential debates, but that he was satisfied with the format of Thursday's forum.
The long shot presidential candidate said he doesn't understand why other candidates get more time to talk during presidential forums, because "they made the judgment to go to war."
"Am I in the wrong world?" he said. "Am I so bright I see everything differently?"
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, held her own at Thursday’s presidential forum, according to Clarence Page, a nationally syndicated columnist.
Page called one moment in particular “dramatic,” when Clinton responded that the nation's response to HIV and AIDS would be better if it mainly affected white women.
He said you know you’ve made a point as a candidate “when you have African-American women jumping up.”
– CNN Researcher Xuan Thai