October 30th, 2007
03:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton could face fire at tonight's debate

Clinton is likely to be in the center of fire at tonight's debate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic presidential hopefuls all face off tonight in Philadelphia, but the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are already taking shots at each other.

While the senator from New York is far ahead of her rivals in all the national polls, there are expectations that Obama, D-Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will step up their attacks on Clinton in tonight’s debate.

“Obama has raised the expectations for the debate, and that may not altogether be a good thing,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, adding that “he has signaled very strongly that he intends to be sharper in his criticism of Hillary Clinton, so all eyes will be on him."

The question is whether he can execute it well enough to keep Clinton from complaining that he’s "gone negative"—a notion, she says, that would "undermine the ‘hopeful’ politics of his campaign.”

But in what’s known as a pre-buttal, Clinton Campaign chief strategist Mark Penn said in an e-mail to reporters that “considering that both Sens. Obama and Edwards made their names by pledging to be positive, the last thing one would have expected was for either of them to go out and announce with pride that they were now going to go negative on a fellow Democrat.”

The Obama campaign quickly responded, with chief strategist David Axelrod telling Borger that “it’s the height of disingenuousness, for these people, who a run hardened political machine, to turn around and profess that any legitimate exchange is out of bounds.”

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Yiu-cho, Windsor, ON, Canada

    The mere fact that Mike Gravel has been excluded from the debates is an affront to democratic principles. He's the only candidate that has criticized the bandwagon nature of the so-called free press, and has subsequently been marginalized. He may not have the most support, but his points are as valid as any of the other candidates. I'm not a full supporter of his policies, but I do believe in an open forum of discussion of all issues that affect people of any democratic country.

    October 30, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. TheInsider

    Tomorrow's ticker should be a lot of fun.

    What will the HillaryHaters have left but to take their anger out on Obama and Edwards, etc., for not being able to do the damage they so sorely long for?

    Tomorrow will be, "rationalizations and excuses R Us", if Hillary comes through the promised fire unscathed.

    October 30, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Vic Reno, Nevada

    Are you kidding me.

    Hillary has answered more policy (and personal) questions than most of the other candidates combined.

    Furthermore, I've sent all the candidates questions on specific issues, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich are the only ones who respond with specifics.

    And as for her 'flawed policy', well, I don't think you know what you're talking about.

    I like her ideas and I think she's going to make a great President.

    And as for Bill, well I think he'll make an awesome 'First Gent'.


    October 30, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. pam Eugene, Or

    Hillary considers it negative when anyone tries to make her give a straight answer. She bobs and weaves like a rubber duck. It is not negative to ask her the hard questions and try to pin her to a meaningful answer. She has yet to be honest about so so many of her issues. She calls it negative to deflect answering! Another Hillary facade.

    October 30, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. David, Dallas Tx

    I agree with Ron. A presidential candidate should expect their policy positions to be attacked by the other candidates. Those confident in their stances should welcome such attacks, as it opens the door to showcasing how good their policy really is.

    That's very different from, for example, arguing that Hillary is only running due to raw ambition. Wise Dems should avoid such personal attacks. Liberal voters don't like it. Besides, a tarnished primaries winner will have a tougher time winning the final election.

    Obama and Edwards should especially avoid it, since they claim to represent "change" and "moral character". They'll lose part of their base if they lower themselves to the least common denominator among the candidates.

    October 30, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. Michael James -- Illinois

    Okay, when I saw Vic from Reno say "Hillary has answered more policy (and personal) questions than most of the other candidates combined." I just had to respond.

    Vic, you need to stop drinking the Clinton cool-aid. She may have answered a lot of questions to date, but that should be expected of the putative frontrunner.

    Also, the main problem is that her answers often differ depending on her audience or if the political winds have shifted - e.g. use of nukes vs. terrorists, Iraq war vote, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006 (S. 2823) http://www.nationalbcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=226&Itemid=121, etc.

    Furthermore, it's not just the shifting positions and triangulation, sometimes you can't even get her to answer a direct question on a major issue. e.g. At the last debate, when she was asked what she thought should be done with regard to Social Security, she didn't offer anything. No specifics of any kind, not even a hint of what sort of solution she might favor. She basically said she would wait to see what everyone else wanted to do. That is NOT leadership and is just another example of why she is not ready to lead this country.

    Vote Obama!!!

    October 30, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  7. Maria, Houston

    CNN, you are such shameless manipulators, it's almost laughable! You just removed first 5-6 comments supporting Obama!

    I say it again:

    "Politics of hope" does not mean that Hillary Clinton should hope for a free pass, no questions asked... She shares that ENTITLEMENT idea with Bush/Cheney and she behaves with equal arrogance when she refuses to ask legitimate questions. Bush/Cheney Lite!

    October 30, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. John, Niskayuna NY

    Slightly off topic, but when I tried to find the information about tonight's debate, it was NOWHERE on the CNN site. What, just because NBC is putting it on, you can't list time and sponsor so people can watch it? The only debates that you can find information on are those co-sponsored by CNN. A bit shameful in my opinion.

    October 30, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. pam Eugene, OR

    Jim, How about they play with Hillarys name and call her Hitlar.
    Would that be fair and just good spirited fun?

    October 30, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Coach Haughton NH

    Tomorrow's ticker should be a lot of fun.

    What will the HillaryHaters have left but to take their anger out on Obama and Edwards, etc., for not being able to do the damage they so sorely long for?

    Tomorrow will be, "rationalizations and excuses R Us", if Hillary comes through the promised fire unscathed.

    Posted By TheInsider : October 30, 2007 5:48 pm

    Yea you're right insider. No matter what happens in the debate CNN will declare Hilliar the Victor, and that will make Pro-Ethics democrats mad.

    October 30, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. Terry Tacoma, Wa

    I've got my cackle counter ready! It should be a big night for the cackle.

    October 30, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Nathan MA

    All that's necessary for the Clintons' to kick into victim mode, their very favorite smokescreen device, is to simply remind people of the trail of scandals, lies, and other loony episodes from their co-presidency. They have enough skeletons in their closet to fill 20 cemetaries, and each one will get dug up and displayed for all to see for months to come.

    October 30, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Ulagious, Opa Locka, Florida

    Obama can win on his own. Hillary cannot win on her own, she is holding onto Bill's coat tail. She has no agenda, she cannot answer questions she panders to Blacks. This woman wants power and wants to make history as the first woman president, but that will not happen on the voter's watch.
    This is a person that I donot trust. She does not care about the voters.

    October 30, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. john williams san diego, ca.

    Hillary has learned very well. so well in fact that the fake smile painted on her face has earned her a cameo as the joker in the next batman movie

    October 30, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  15. Kade in Phoenix, Arizona

    Another funny difference between Obama and Hillary –

    You know this Hillary Rodham Clinton ? People make funny wordplays on her name – like Billary, Shrillary etc. No one minds – it's all part of the Great American habit of caricaturing public personalities. No big deal.

    NOW let's talk about Obama

    Obama's full name is Barak Hussein Obama. If you DARE make a nickname for Obama, such as replacing a single strategic letter – you get Barak Hussein OSAMA.
    You're done for. Obama/Osama minions will come out of the woodwork, enraged that you dared to desecrate their sacred idol. You will be called anything from racist to bigot to much worse.

    Question – Why is the Obama campaign so sensitive about association with Osama ? Is it just the connotation of Obama, given his infamous middle name Hussein ? Or is there a more sinister deeper connection ? What are you trying to hide?

    Posted By Jim Bremer : October 30, 2007 5:30 pm

    haha, Jim... That was absolutely retarded. Like his parents, by naming him Barack Hussein Obama, had any idea or could see into the future that he would run for president. Also, like they had any idea that Saddam Hussein would be overthrown and the Twin Towers would be knocked down by Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda. People call Dem's conspiracy theorists, and now I understand why... Because of people like you. Wow, thanks for the laugh. By the way, Billary, while I cannot stand her, will win the nomination and choose Mr. Obama (not Osama) for her running mate. Then what will you do? By God, Jimmy Boy may just have a heart attack! hahaha

    October 30, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  16. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    In Arkansas we used to call the Razorbacks Basketball Defense "40 minutes of Hell" I believe that if Sen. Obama and Edwards turn negative is going to be come the "40 minutes of Hill" give'm Hell Hillary!

    October 30, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Henry Tucker, Ga

    QUESTION for Barack Obama:

    "Do you think God can cure gay people of being homosexual?"

    October 30, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Uriew, CA

    Jim Bremer,
    At the risk of you calling me an Obama minion, frankly I dont care, I was wondering if there is anything that you hate about Obama other than his middle name and equating him to Osama. Coz I would hate to conclude that you are so petty minded without proving it yourself

    October 30, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. Tere, FL

    What will the Hillary interns and Obama haters like you have to say after we experience yet another episode of cackling and evading questions by Hillary? Did you think of that, that would make the Ticker interesting too.

    October 30, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. Mike Longview, TX

    Stay positive and focused, Senator Clinton!
    Sometimes the best man for the job is a WOMAN and that is never more true than NOW!!!
    Hillary '08!!

    October 30, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  21. monica, rochester new york

    Monte Brown, people like you scare me. You actually think there shouldn't even be a vote, everyone should just coronate the candidate you support. I think you're in the wrong country, this is a democracy. You don't seem to value that.

    October 30, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. Bill , Covington,LA

    All you thinking people out there who can't stand Hillary, just as I can't,(no,I think the proper description would be "Abhor")her,need to be very careful what you say,least you wind up like Vince Foster, in fort Marcie park.

    October 30, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. J. McKinney SW MO

    Is it true that Obama refuses to salute the flag? This is a Snopes link:


    October 30, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  24. TRM

    Nothing better than a socialist debate about who can re-distribute wealth the fastest.

    October 30, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. bill s. , wilmington nc.

    is it just me, or is there like a debate every week ? that's around 50 debates per year. it's getting to be overkill

    October 30, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
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