Bill Schneider’s take on last night’s Democratic debate:
MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - It's obvious who the Democrats think will win the Republican nomination: They’re all talking about who will run strongest against John McCain.
This is new - and it's likely the result of his South Carolina win on Saturday. Now each of his potential general election opponents is laying out their strategy to beat a Republican candidate who has repeatedly shown he appeals to independents.
At the CNN/Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate in Myrtle Beach last night, Hillary Clinton held strong on her mantra that she's a fighter who has withstood the "Republican attack machine." Barack Obama and John Edwards, on the other hand, stressed their broad appeal to voters not usually inclined to vote for a Democrat.
And Obama injected Iraq - his strongest issue - into the debate, saying he can draw a powerful contrast with John McCain on the issue. On the other hand, McCain is likely to win any debate on national security - it's his strongest issue too, and he speaks on it with a degree of authority that virtually no other politician has.
Edwards got himself back in it last night - he showcased his style and his key issues, and is clearly back in the game. He showed he continues to deserve to share a debate stage with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; thanks to that performance, voters here in South Carolina will likely give him another look heading into Saturday’s primary vote.
The debate also showcased the remarkably different primary strategies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She's going for the partisans that have historically constituted the overwhelming majority of primary voters. This is clear over and over again in her language, every time she talks about "fighting Republicans."
Obama, on the other hand, talks a very different game - he repeatedly said last night he can forge consensus, and will work with Republicans.
Clinton's strategy of going for the partisans in the primaries has shown itself to be a winning one time and again. But this election season has been anything but normal - and it's possible that after eight years with one of the most partisan presidents in history, even partisan Democrats want a consensus builder.
Clinton is running as the anti-Bush, while Obama is running as the un-Bush. Which will primary voters prefer?
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Meanwhile, post-debate: What were they talking about?
Hillary Clinton and John Edwards met privately backstage following a very contentious Democratic presidential debate in this coastal city, sources with both campaigns confirm to CNN.
The meeting took place in the Edwards campaign green room.
One of the sources said the meeting happened by chance and the conversation consisted of light chatter. The source added that Clinton did jokingly take a jab at Edwards about his beating up on her during the debate. In fact, the real fireworks were between Clinton and Barack Obama.
An Edwards source noted that it was not surprising the two senators met backstage.
"That happens back there,” said the source, who said it has happened “more often” with Obama. “It’s tight quarters – we’re all on top of each other.”
The question is - with only two weeks before Super Tuesday - what else was discussed?
–CNN’s Candy Crowley and Mike Roselli
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
CNN: Analysis: Sparks Fly In Most Contentious Debate To Date
The gloves came off quickly Monday night as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded blows just days before the South Carolina primary, and two weeks before voters in 24 Super Tuesday states weigh in on this wide-open presidential contest.
Chicago Tribune: GOP Hopefuls Flock To The Sunshine State
The stakes in Florida could not be much higher. For Giuliani, who is openly pinning his hopes on winning the state, a loss could be devastating. For McCain, a victory could finally make him the undisputed front-runner of an unusually turbulent GOP field. For either Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a win here offers a badly needed revival heading into Super Tuesday in two weeks.
NY Times: In S. Carolina, It’s Obama vs. Clinton. That’s Bill Clinton.
Facing formidable support for Senator Barack Obama in South Carolina, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is deploying former President Bill Clinton there while she shifts her attention to campaigning in states with nominating contests next month and to raising money.
Miami Herald: Huckabee Skimps On Fla. For Georgia
No television commercials. A small and hastily arranged Florida rally. No clear travel schedule. Mike Huckabee is running the most unorthodox campaign of the major Republican candidates. While his opponents blanketed Florida - the biggest primary yet - on Monday, he opened and closed the day in another state, Georgia.
NY Times: Crossing Mayor Giuliani Often Had a Price
Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich, CNN Washington Bureau
* Hillary Clinton is participates in a “Solutions for America" town hall in Salinas, California and a “Solutions for the American Economy” town hall in Laveen, Arizona.
* John Edwards holds a town hall meeting in Conway, South Carolina and appears on the Late Show with David Letterman.
* Rudy Giuliani attends a meet and greet in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
* Mike Huckabee attends a Right to Life event at the capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.
* John McCain attends a campaign rally and media availability in Pensacola, Florida, and a campaign rally in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Later, he heads to New York City, where he holds a media availability and attends a closed-press fundraiser before heading to Orlando.
* Barack Obama is in South Carolina, where attends a campaign event in Greenville, a kickoff really in Greenwood, a town hall meeting in Lexington, and a rally with Usher and Kerry Washington in Orangeburg.
* Mitt Romney is in Florida, where he addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition in Boca Raton and holds "Change Begins with Us" tour stops in Coral Springs and Naples.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook