AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - The audience loved Clinton’s first response when asked about a time she had been tested – a deliberately vague answer that drew a knowing laugh from many in the audience.She then laid out a very eloquent response, essentially saying that her crises are nothing compared to the problems average voters confront.It's one of the few debate answers to get a standing ovation.
– CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - Clinton just made an effective argument against John McCain: Though the Arizona senator is a champion against wasteful spending, Clinton pointed to his support for the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq - both colossal expenditures unpopular with most Democrats.Obama isn't the only one eager to go head to head with McCain.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - On the issue of earmarks, Obama is jumping at the opportunity to show his record of reaching across the aisle.He referenced his work with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican widely viewed as one of the most conservative senators. He certainly isn't a popular figure in Democratic circles, but Obama wants to stress the two pushed for a measure to expose where pork-barrel spending was going.It again plays into his theme of building bipartisan consensus - an argument he knows plays well this cycle, even with partisan Democrats.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - Obama and Clinton are both being pressed on their opposition to the surge in Iraq, a policy that has improved conditions there. Both responded tactfully and made clear they will press for an end to the Iraq war as president.The two seemed to give the same answer, but Obama's answer was rhetorically more powerful and one of his most effective moments. He made sure to clearly draw distinctions with John McCain on the issue, and seems eager to go head-to-head with the Arizona senator when it comes to the war in Iraq.Health care is Clinton’s issue. Iraq is clearly Obama’s.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - Clinton appears to only want to draw distinctions on the healthcare issue.When asked if she thinks Obama is ready to be commander-in-chief, Clinton avoided answering it directly. Instead, she gave her standard line: she is ready to lead from Day One.Meanwhile, when Obama was posed the question, he returned to his initial opposition to the war in Iraq - an issue he has raised at least three times tonight. It’s the cornerstone to his argument that he has better judgment than Clinton.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - Clinton clearly feels she can gain ground against Obama on healthcare.
Despite the moderator's repeated attempt to move on, Clinton kept returning to the issue.
She knows Obama is most on the defensive when talking about healthcare - she understands this issue through and through, and wants the audience to know it.
Related: Watch the candidates debate their health care plans
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - Clinton successfully brought up the issue of healthcare - an issue where she clearly thinks she has the upper hand over Obama.
She is calling for mandated coverage, while Obama is calling for reduced costs that he says will result in everyone buying coverage.
On the substance of this issue she has a very strong case. Most economists agree Obama's plan will not result in universal health care. Why? Because no matter how cheap it is, if given the option, some people will still prefer to purchase something else.
But Obama tactfully used the issue to make a larger point he has been repeatedly been touching on tonight. He says even if the two disagree slightly on the issue, he has a better chance to get it passed because of his fundamentally different approach - he paints himself as a consensus builder while Clinton is a partisan fighter.
It’s an argument that is central to his change theme.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - "Change you can Xerox," Clinton just said.She is trying to continue making the plagiarism charge - that Obama lifted a portion of a speech from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick - an issue.But that line seemed contrived to me.And Obama clearly enjoyed the plagiarism question, using it as an opportunity to portray the charge as an example of the "silliness" of Washington he is battling.Related: Watch Obama defend plagiarism charges
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - CNN's John King just gave Clinton an open invitation to go after Obama, by asking her about her repeated charge the Illinois senator doesn't have the experience to be president.
And Clinton took the opportunity to draw the first blood. She referenced a recent interview with an Obama surrogate who was unable to name a single accomplishment of the Illinois senator, and said the two offer distinctly different records of accomplishment.
Obama responded effectively - he defended his achievements, and characterized Clinton as suggesting his supporters are delusional for supporting him. The line played well.
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - You would have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to tell the difference between these two candidates.
Neither has really gone after each other, even though the moderators have given them ample opportunity.
Now it's virtually a matter of who says the same thing better. And if this continues, Obama will likely win - he's always been viewed as the more effective communicator.
Clinton needs to start challenging Obama if she wants to gain the upper hand.