October 31st, 2007
08:30 AM ET
11 years ago

Edwards, Obama step up criticisms of Clinton

CNN's Candy Crowley reports Clinton found herself in the line of fire Tuesday night.

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - The night fittingly began with a reference to "Rocky" in his fictional hometown, as the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night at times took on the feel of a heavyweight fight.

Sen. Barack Obama, who this week said he would sharpen attacks on frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton, first called their differences “overhyped”. He joked, “I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed, although the amazing thing is, I'm Rocky in this situation.”

Moments later, the tone changed as he launched the first of a series of candidate attacks on Clinton, claiming of the race, “I think it requires us to be honest about the challenges that we face. It does not mean, I think, changing positions whenever it's politically convenient.”

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards also sharpened his attacks on the New York Democrat, criticizing Clinton for her stands on Iraq, Iran and Social Security.

The Democratic presidential candidates next square off November 15 at CNN's debate in Las Vegas.

Full story

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I watched and listened to the entire debate.

    The performance of former Senator Edwards and Senator Obama was shameful. Their personal attacks on Senator Clinton's truthfulness, charactor, and ability were over the top. If Senator Clinton were a man they probably would not have been so venomous; men are more circumspect when calling another man a bald face liar (I think it has something to do with weighing the comment against the likelihood of getting punched in the face). I guess they thought since she was a womand that wasn't very likely, cowards.

    Senator Clinton's ability to ignore or deflect their criticism and their personal attacks was admirable. With the exception of her answer regarding New York Driver's Licenses (which she blew badly), I think she did a terrific job.

    Senator Biden would make a terrific Vice-President or Secretary of State.

    October 31, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Sarah

    Tom in New Mexico:

    Can you define "blessed"?

    October 31, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. b-rocks New York, NY

    The reviews have come in, and Barack won this round.

    Even the Clinton-boosting media is noticing.

    MSNBC – (Howard Fineman): She talked about the process. And also that was the one time where Obama turned toward her, what we used to call in old debate language, the pivot, remember that? He turned toward her and he said look, this will not stand because if you're claiming the presidency based on your being the first lady, you've got to come clean on that. I thought that was his best debating point that he's made in any of these debates so far."

    October 31, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Keith, Chicago

    Obama was the clear winner and Biden was clearly the second best, in this debate. Edwards made some very true, and good points about Clinton's lack of honesty on the issues and where she stands, her lack of consistency on the issues, and her inability to make any real changes to the systems when so many HMO's, defense companies, and other special-interest groups are donating so much money to her campaign. As much as I agree with Edwards, I think he loses a lot of credibility being in the pockets of Hedge Funds and Trial Lawyer associations. And some of his criticisms of Clinton, while true, sometimes seemed to be a little bit over the top and he didn't look very "presidential" criticizing too much and too forcefully.

    Obama did a much better job, pointing out his differences and pointing out that he is would be a better leader than Clinton because he lets the voters know where he stands, instead of being purposely vague on one's stances, which Clinton does...and he also pointed out the need for much greater government transparency, which has been horrible under Bush but would not be much better under Clinton either. But he stated his differences with Clinton in a nuanced way, keeping his cool, and being over the top like Edwards was.

    Biden is a very sharp guy with a ton of experience – especially in foreign policy. My guess is that Obama will win the nomination and presidency, and assuming he does, I think that Biden would make an EXCELLENT Secretary of State or Defense.

    Clinton was downright awful in this debate. While I prefer her to any Republican candidate, one thing I have noticed more and more about her is her inability to give a straight answer – it seems like she is purposely not taking positions on important issues for political gain – when a true leader would not worry about possibly alienating a few voters and would take a stance and stand up for what is right. Obama and Edwards already spoke to this issue in the debate, but then she really shot herself in the foot when she exhibited a perfect example of their speaking points in front of everyone...when she said that she was for Spitzer's illegal immigration plan only to say that she did not support it, two minutes later, after Dodd said it was a really bad idea. How anyone could support Clinton after that, is beyond me.

    October 31, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. AJ, Chicago IL

    All these "GO HILLARY!" supporters are deluding themselves if they think Obama and Edwards were attacking Hillary. Pointing out facts that question her judgement, honesty, and integrity are not attacks. It was clearly evident that Hillary had three important slip-ups in this debate that questioned her ability to be a change agent in Presidential politics. One was her 2007 vote to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (part of Iranina government)a terrorist organization. She was the only democratic senator on the Presidential stage to vote on that resolution. And what was her answer? A general paraphrase of Obama's reference to using "sticks and carrots" to get Iran to stop its nuclear ambitions and sponsoring terrorism. She keep saying over and over, that her vote is a form of diplomacy. Hillary, here is the definition of Diplomacy; the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. Hillary, who is the US government negotiating with?!

    Hillary's second slip-up was the Bush-like attitude of secrecy surrounding Bill Clinton's request that the Clinton Presidential archives not be released until 2012. Obama pounced on this clear Bush-like tactic of secrecy after,Hillary for months has been claiming her experience in the White House (as a spouse) makes her a good candidate for President. Both Edwards and Biden jumped on this issue.

    Thirdly, when Tim Russert asked her about her support of NY Governor's idea to give illegal aliens a driver's license, Hillary straight out lied, but tried to clean the lie up, but then her explanation became extremely convoluted. Both Edwards and Obama jumped on Hillary for giving credence to past statements that she is not truthful and politically tailoring her answers to whatever the public wants to hear.

    Democrats wake up! Hillary is going to get more of same from her fellow opponents going forward. If she becomes the Democratic Presidential nominee, the Republicans are going to come at her much more harder on these very issues and a whole lot more.

    October 31, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Cambridge, MA

    Excuse me, Cheryl, are polls considered biased reporting?
    Just wondering....

    Also, I agree, it IS interesting to see the candidates true nature emerge as they grasp at the few remaining straws in their campaign.
    Go Hillary, Go!

    October 31, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    Yes, everyone, Hillary is the candidate for change. Hell, she changes her stance on issues as often as she changes her pantsuits.

    October 31, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Jill New York

    Instead of stating the "wrongs" and faults of Mrs. Clinton, they need to be stating the "rights" and positive attributes of their own campaigns. It's been proven for years that Clinton is an easy target for whatever reason. We get it! Obama and Edwards seem more concerned about woman running in the race than the country they want to lead. Obama and Edwards: Start promoting your own ideals. Unless you don't have anything enlightening and great to say about yourselves..yes, then by all means, waste your time and the time of the American people by attacking someone else in your own party.

    October 31, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Joeley Reno, Nevada

    Hillary was the only one in this debate that looked Presidential.

    Obama and Edwards magnified their inability to stick with the real issues of this race. That was glaringly apparant during this debate.

    They instead made the choice to take the low road by ignoring the issues and focus their rhetoric on attacking Hillary.

    Obama is not qualified to be the leader of the free world. His credentials as a legislator in Illinois and two years in the Senate are not sufficient qualifications for the job to which he aspires.

    And Edwards, well a trial lawyer harping endlessly about honesty and integrity is laughable.

    Both candidates are desperate and it shows.

    Don't think for a minute Edwards and Obama don't have skeletons in their closets.

    Senator Clinton has more class than to do to others what has been done to her over the last few hours or the last many years.

    She has more class, ability and know how than both John and Barak combined.

    Hillary was the clear winner in this debate. She was poised and authenic, and yes, clearly electable.

    She is indeed ready to hit the ground running, she will lead this country back to a place of standing in the world community.

    Bill Richardson and Joe Biden showed some spunk too.

    Hillary has my vote for sure.

    October 31, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    I don't think the attacks on Hillary over her seemingly ambivalent answer regarding drivers licenses for illegal aliens were justified. She was trying to make a point that NOT EVERYTHING IS A YES/NO ANSWER. Intelligent discussion usually produces many viewpoints, and Hillary was acknowledging that she supported the idea of the New York plan, but not necessarily every aspect of it.
    That is a real answer, not simplistic phrases or yes/no answers for the simple-minded (sadly, the majority of Americans these days).

    October 31, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. CNB, Washington State

    First off, I pray that my two choices for president of the United States will not BOTH be from New York, that would be severely depressing. Second, I really can't see why so many support Clinton, She's not a very good candidate in my eyes and I am undecided and don't consider myself linked to either party. People seem to be touting her as brave and decisive.... Are you kidding me? Why is she brave? because she started attacking the president's policies when polls showed his popularity was in the tank? Why is she decisive? because she basically opposes anything the White House or Republicans put out there? People... why do you jump on the leading candidate's bandwagon just because they seem to have the popularity to win. Here's an original thought, why don't we find the person most qualified for the job before throwing our support behind them. I challenge anyone that reads this to produce anything, any bill any legislation that Clinton has put forth that has really done anything for this country....... go ahead i'm waiting... ....

    Oh and so far the best candidate in my opinion is Stephen Colbert. At least he could put on a good debate.

    October 31, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. Chris, Middletown, CT

    read Kari's response....its like the debate and the other comments never happened....now that my friends is the sign of a dangerous cult mentality...

    October 31, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Colin742

    With regard to the concern some have over release of archived Clinton documents, I recall that in the last year a tape of Nixon talking to Kisinger reviling Jews was released. Reagan's person Diary was released. If these records of Republican presidents are not released until well after they died, Clinton's records can be held back until they are DEAD. We know the Republicans just want to resurect what we have heard before. About $100,000,000 was wasted by Republicans trying to pin some crime on the Clintons, unless you think exposing a BJ was worth $100,000,000

    October 31, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. RonPaul2008

    The labor union endorsement is great for Hillary and for all of you Hillary bashers, apparently the "bash Hillary" debate is really hitting home with women. You can call it sympathy support, but it seems that she may have more women on her side after last night, especially when the normal American voter reads the headline suggesting all the men, including the "foaming at the mouth" Chris Matthews, went after her last night. Good Job MSNBC. Oh, and by the way, I'm a male suporting Ron Paul.

    October 31, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Any political observer knew what we all saw yesterday. Senator double talke hilary. This lady is a joke

    October 31, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Melvin (Chapel Hill, NC)

    Did anyone catch Clinton steal a line from Senator Barack Obama? Her quote went something like:

    "We need to turn the page on Iran...actually, we need to throw the whole book out."

    If stealing in that manner isn't crucial and unusual, then I don't know what is. The fact that she didn't even acknowledge that she was using a phrase/trademark of one particular candidate is fascinating to me.

    Why did she do that?

    Clinton...(Hillary)...is not my choice. She seemed really vengeful in this debate because her competitors were asking her to do what they've all been doing: actually answering questions with more than lip-service.

    Has anyone read about her response to this debate? Check her website. Her responses are *BULL* but I wonder if she realizes that others realize she is full of it.

    Her performance is going to hurt her with undecided voters and fracture her base. I look forward to the weeks ahead.

    October 31, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Kate, Grand Blanc

    Go OBAMA GO!! He is amazing and secures my vote everytime I hear him speak. He totally won that debate hands down. Edwards also had a strong performance, as did Richardson.

    October 31, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. John Greensboro NC

    Hillary talks and talks, but is very careful not to say anything.

    October 31, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Meshel, Aeia HI

    The real debate was online and at the World Café with Mike Gravel! His knowledge and experience puts the other candidates to shame and that came through quite clearly last night. He is for empowering the people and that is exactly what he was doing. Empowering us – teaching us what we need to know to "read" these guys. Pointing out the lies. It was great! Quite a feat for the campaign to take on and they pulled it off beautifully. I would have liked to see a bit more "give 'em hell" attitude, but he did that where he could during his critique of the debate. It's not his fault most of the other candidates are boring idiots and the questions asked were pathetic.

    I noticed that some of the other candidates seem to be picking up a lot of Mikes phrases – only with Mike, there's substance behind the words. With the others, they are just empty words.

    I was bored to death listening to Obama drone on – he seems to say a lot of words, but he really says nothing. My brain automatically shuts down when he speaks. And it was kind of fun watching Hilary try to redeem herself. I will also say that my respect for Kucinich dropped several notches. I was literally shocked that he didn't mention Mike not being there! I didn't see the end – did he ever mention Mike or bring up the censorship issue?? True colors shining through?
    I want real change, not just a change in the dictatorship.

    October 31, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Jackson, Yucca Valley CA

    As far as I am concerned Edwards and Obama's behavior in the debate was shameless ... especially Obama, who so far stands for nothing bur mediocrity.

    October 31, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Lea San Francisco, CA

    I wish news agencies like CNN would spend more time educating viewers about how each candidate stands on the issues than about who got in the best pot shot at a debate.

    October 31, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. slc

    Obama supporters are obviously not very smart. You folks are just like the republicans, HATERS. I'm not voting for someone that attacks others.

    October 31, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    Well, Barak Obama shows his cool rational and authentic style juxtaposed with the arrogant, elite and evasive style of the slick Clintons.

    Barak is adding political trench experience like a fighter with warm up opponent getting ready for the main bout the national election. Hillary is providing this service for the clear choice for the winning of the White House is President Barak Obama.

    He is clear and concise and well reasoned on his stand on the issues
    where she hedges and waffles and ducks
    and does that same old sleazy political shuffle.

    Time to turn the page, alright!

    Time for change!

    Barak has my vote.

    November 1, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Lily Smith Vidalia, Georgia

    Obama and now Edwards of all people have nothing else to run on but to beat up on Hillary. Cheap and decieptful. I am not shocked at Obama as he has not told we the people how may other ways are there to get to God. But I am a bit shocked at Edwards. Is he trailing that far?

    November 2, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
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