August 7th, 2007
10:27 PM ET
11 years ago

Maybe its the heat..sharper exchanges mark Chicago forum

(CNN) – Maybe it’s the heat. The top Democratic candidates engaged in some of the sharpest exchanges yet of the presidential debate season Tuesday night in an outdoor forum in Chicago.

The AFL-CIO forum, televised on MSNBC, took place outdoors in steamy Soldier Field in front of thousands of union members.

Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who faced strong criticism in recent days from Barack Obama and John Edwards, said in the first hour of the debate, “I’m just taking it all in. I’ve noticed in the last few days a lot of the other campaigns have been using my name a lot.” But she said the goal is not to get in fights with Democrats. I want the Democrats to win. And I want a united Democratic Party that will stand against the Republicans. And I will say that, for 15 years, I have stood up against the right-wing machine. And I've come out stronger. So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.”

But Clinton continued her attack of Obama on his foreign policy, including his comments he would take action against terror suspects inside Pakistan. She said, “Well, I do not believe people running for president should engage in hypotheticals and it may well be that the strategy that we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence - but, remember, we've had some real difficult experiences with actionable intelligence - might lead to a certain action. But I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that, and to destabilize the Musharraf regime which is fighting for its life against the Islamist extremists who are in bed with Al Qaeda and Taliban .And remember: Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want is to have Al Qaeda-like followers in charge of Pakistan and having access to nuclear weapons.” Clinton said, “you can think big, but remember you shouldn't always say everything you think if you're running for president, because it has consequences across the world. And we don't need that right now”.

But Obama, who also drew fire from Senator Christopher Dodd over the Pakistan issue struck back, saying, “I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism.”

And drawing on a new line of attack he used against Clinton for not representing change, Obama said, “we're debating the most important foreign policy issues that we face, and the American people have the right to know. It is not just Washington insiders that are part of the debate that has to take place with respect to how we're going to shift our foreign policy.”

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Ender Wiggin

    Obama Won.

    August 7, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  2. chris, houston, texas

    It is a shame that CNN and other mainstream media outlets don't acknowledge candidates outside of their hand-picked favorites. Tonight's AFL-CIO debate saw Rep. Dennis Kucinich receive more applause for his direct principled comments that cut through the political meanderings than the other candidates and yet this "ticker" makes no mention of him in Chicago. Are they blind to anyone but their picks of Clinton (who got booed) and Obama (who was received well).

    Mr. Brusk, rewatch the debate and tell it like it was, not simply like you want it.

    August 7, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  3. GARRETT INDIANAPOLIS, IN

    He's right, but a debate on foreign policy has to start with changes on the homefront. We have to be willing to see that strong policy starts here with the economy and our freedoms that have been eroded away. Ron Paul gets this, That's why he's got my vote. It's not left or right anymore, it's wrong versus right that's why I left the dem's because I want real change. Join the Ron Paul revolution and we can leave a better country to our children. Isn't that what it's all about in the end?

    August 7, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. Wallace, Philly PA

    Obama represents people of America, not just insiders in Washington, DC. Recognize!
    Obama 08'

    August 7, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  5. Zizzou, York, PA

    This entire piece is about Hillary. Wow...big surprise there, Steve Brusk. 75% of the article is made up of Hillary quotes from the debate...nothing about Edwards, Richardson, Kucinich or Biden. Another love note for Hillary from CNN.

    Ugh.

    August 7, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. Jim, Iowa

    We need a President who's going to unite this country not a president auditioning to take on the right wing machine. At some point the partisan sniping that can't get things done needs to stop. That's why my vote is with Hillary, Just kidding. She's more of the same, we are ready for a new direction. Obama 08

    August 7, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  7. Russell Sumter, SC

    I am very concerned with what Sen. Clinton said regarding her party, "I want the Democrats to win. And I want a united Democratic Party that will stand against the Republicans." It was my understnding that Congress, while it is divided, was to work togeter for the good of the American people and not be slighted by their own parties agenda. It sounds as if Sen. Clinton has an agenda and that is to stop listening to those on the other side of the party line and create a unilateral Congress instead of the bilateral one that we seek in America today. Kind of scary.

    August 7, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  8. John, Sierra CA

    Lobbysts Lover Hillary hit the bottom tonight.
    No more Universal Healthcare if you vote for Hillary.
    Her only plan is to become President. This country is becoming a banana Republic.

    August 8, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  9. Karen, Columbia, MO

    Anyone who was watching the debate can clearly say that Obama was the winner in a landslide. What made this all the more impressive were all the attacks he took on from various candidates. Hillary portrays herself as an innocent victim, when she was the one who attacked Obama in the first place with regard to his foreign policy. Only the Clinton News Network (CNN) would let her get away with this hypocrisy.

    August 8, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  10. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    Clinton got dominated on this issue. I'm sorry but if you think that the "WAR ON TERROR" is not important, then you are unfit to be President of this country. What Obama is saying is that we need to be "PROACTIVE" in our War on Terror. We need to "HELP" the President of Pakistan capture these terrorists. It has to be done because we need to do what the Republicans love to "TALK" about, yet "FAIL TO ACT" upon and fight the terrorists over there instead of fighting them over here. Anybody who is opposed to that is opposed to the war on terror and I do not want that person to represent our country in our ongoing fight on terrorism.

    August 8, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Matt, Paris, Illinois

    It's becoming obvious that CNN has a pretty pro-Hillary stance, at least as it relates to reporting political news. CNN has thus far refused to acknowledge that it was Sen. Clinton, not Sen. Obama, who began the war of words following CNN's YouTube Debate.

    And how fair is it, to quote entire statements of Clinton's and only soundbites of Obama's, when it was Obama who spoke the most about the subject of expanding the military action of Afghanistan across the border with Pakistan?

    Straighten up, CNN....you're starting to act like Fox News..and that's not where you wanna go.

    August 8, 2007 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  12. Ravi K , Portland OR

    Hilary seemed to be telling Obama and everyone else for that matter how to run for President. Funny how that works considering she is running for the first time (Wait!! Wasnt there a President Clinton a few years ago 🙂 ?)

    But I thought Obama did a great job pointing out this obvious arrogance on her part.
    I'd much rather have a neophyte who makes a mistake or two than a cynical know it all who will make the same kinds of mistakes as the current bunch and for the wrong reasons.

    August 8, 2007 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  13. lavelle

    CNN does it again refuses to cover the entire debate. What about Hill receiving more boos again about receiving money from lobbyist! She was BOOED! CNN talk about that

    August 8, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  14. Steve, Indianapolis, IN

    "Well, I do not believe that people running for president should engage in hypotheticals..." So we're not supposed to know how you would fight the war on terror? There's terrorists in Pakistan – that's not hypothetical. I want to know what you're going to do about it!

    "...but remember you shouldn’t always say everything you think if you’re running for president..." That's right Hillary, you should just give slogans and slander your opponent. She is the quintessential slimy politician. Her campaign spokesman continued the show of scum after the debate when being interviewed along with Obama and Edwards' campaign spokesmen – he criticized the Obama and Edwards campaigns for criticizing Clinton. When challenged on Clinton's consistent attacks against Obama, he basically said "Well, we never claimed to have ethics!"

    I'm still waiting for someone to show me how this woman is an upgrade over George Bush.

    August 8, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. Eugene Minter, Kennett Square, PA

    John Edwards should quickly apologize for his wife’s ridiculous comments. She suggests that the only reason why Sen. Obama is doing so well in the Democratic Presidential nominating process is because he is “black”. This is absolutely a racist assertion. The Edwards should be ashamed.

    August 8, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Eustace, New York, NY

    So you are saying that when Hillary said... you shouldn't always say everything you think...you didn't hear boos? How convenient of you to not note the people's reaction to that.

    That was the dumbest thing ever, for several years there has been co communication between the government and the people. If you are debating the biggest foreign policy blunder and you can't speak to the Americna people about it you do an injustice and a disservice to the American people. Obama alluded to that.

    Obama said that and that is presidential. Clinton keep saying do not engage in hypotheticals yet she did when the moderator asked that hypothetical question about Iraq. As a candidate you are all talking hypothetically and if you do not engage in hypotheticals, how in hell do you explore policy options. Clinton is as hypocritical as she is naive.

    Obama won that debate, Hillary clinton, Biden and others just ducked questions and went of on sound bites in order to attack Obama. 20 point lead my ass... based on what 500 people out of more than 100 million. If you are comfortable sitting on that and being arrogant about it...you have a rude awakening come january and february.

    Obama, when the democrats gang up on you... it must mean something... Keep doing your thing... you'll be ok despite the media's attempts to stifle your moments and boost those who places their candidates on the cover of Fortune magazine. lol

    August 8, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. Providence, RI

    OBAMA showed one more time HE is naive and inexperience. He said, "President of Canada." There is no President in Canada; there is a Prime Minister! Obama is pretending to be intellectual and intelligent, but he is not. IF he were knowledgeable, he would not have said "President of Canada."

    August 8, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  18. Len, Sparks, NV

    You forgot to mention that Obama drew great applause for his target Al Qaeda stance and that is crucial. When Obama was in Elko, Nevada, a very hard right town, he had standing room only and drew cheers for his target Al Qaeda stance. When Clinton says she can win against the GOP she is just talking through her hat. The independents hate her. How can she win withouth the independent vote? I think she will lose, like Kerry, for that reason. She has no position, like Obama, that resonates with them. She is strictly a partisan candidate. Perhaps the media will start figuring this out. I don't think they live in the real world. I live in Nevada. I see what independents are like. You can't just woo your base.

    August 8, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. IV, Dallas

    Obama is right. If we have Bin Laden in our crosshairs in the Pakistani mountains just across the Afghan border, we take him out if Musharraf won't.

    Obama is strongest on taking out the terrorists who carried out 9/11, hands-down.

    August 8, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Chip Celina OH

    Hillary shows she's no student of history and not a critical thinker. Two quotes from her in last night's debate show that.
    "Well, I do not believe people running for president should engage in hypotheticals" and you can think big, but remember you shouldn’t always say everything you think if you’re running for president, because it has consequences across the world. And we don’t need that right now”

    Let's think back to the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. Jimmy Carter made zero progress in the release of the hostages, Reagan vowed to tune Iran up if elected. After the election, and prior to the inauguration, the hostages were released.

    She's way to arrogant and speaks too condescendingly to be president.

    August 8, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. Carl, Iowa

    Obama once again proved that he can't be swift boated by his opponents. Hillary, Biden and Dodd tried to hit him low and he swung back hard with a combination of strength, leadership and good policy judgement.

    August 8, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Austin W., Evergreen Park, IL

    Although I am a lifelong registered Democrat and will absolutely be voting for one of the people on stage at Soldier Field last night for President in 2008, one thing about the debate really bothered me.
    In the later part of the forum when they began receiving questions from audience members, some of whom had been waiting in line for quite a long time, it soon became customary for the recipient of a question to entirely brush off the question in order to rebut another candidate's answer to a previous question. Their reply would begin, "Well, that's a very important question, but just really quickly before I answer that, I'd like to get back to..." and then they'd never get back to the person's question. The first of these I noticed was Joe Biden, of whom I'm (usually) a big fan, being asked a question about health care but feeling it was much more important to "hammer home" some "important point" about his stance on Iraq. If I was the person who asked the question about health care, I would have been at the least unimpressed, and more likely, rather offended. Then there was a similar non-response from Clinton. Then there was one from Dodd. And I, the committed voter, was quickly disgusted.

    These candidates need it hammered home to them that in polite society, this is considered rude. It is unfortunate that it comes to this, but I really think Keith Olbermann should have had a buzzer to press whenever a candidate decided to change from the topic at hand, at the expense of someone who may have travelled a very long way and stood under the sun for a very long time, just to ask them one question.

    August 8, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Austin W., Evergreen Park, IL

    Although I am a lifelong registered Democrat and will absolutely be voting for one of the people on stage at Soldier Field last night for President in 2008, one thing about the debate really bothered me.
    In the later part of the forum when they began receiving questions from audience members, some of whom had been waiting in line for quite a long time, it soon became customary for the recipient of a question to entirely brush off the question in order to rebut another candidate’s answer to a previous question. Their reply would begin, “Well, that’s a very important question, but just really quickly before I answer that, I’d like to get back to…” and then they’d never get back to the person’s question. The first of these I noticed was Joe Biden, of whom I’m (usually) a big fan, being asked a question about health care but feeling it was much more important to “hammer home” some “important point” about his stance on Iraq. If I was the person who asked the question about health care, I would have been at the least unimpressed, and more likely, rather offended. Then there was a similar non-response from Clinton. Then there was one from Dodd. And I, the committed voter, was quickly disgusted.

    These candidates need it hammered home to them that in polite society, this is considered rude. It is unfortunate that it comes to this, but I really think Keith Olbermann should have had a buzzer to press whenever a candidate decided to change from the topic at hand, at the expense of someone who may have travelled a very long way and stood under the sun for a very long time, just to ask them one question.

    August 8, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. Robert M. Reidy

    Each debate reveals more of the truth about the candidates.
    1. HC is very much for secret Gov.
    2. Obama has the boldness to say what he knows is the only way to fight
    terrorism – where they are !
    3. Obama and Edwards and Kucinich seem to be the candidates – with a heart for the people.
    4. HC is old school!
    5. Obama is the most presidential.
    6. Obama can stand up against the
    calculated political sabatage.
    7. Obama plus Edwards could be a strong populist combination.
    8. Hillary is shrill after all!
    9. Hillary is no Bill Clinton.
    10. Obama will be the best at returning the U.S. prestige around
    the world and you can't put a price
    on that!!!

    August 8, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Rick, Greenville, SC

    Obama has presented an alternative mode of debate (his "change" in politics). This does not mean not engaging, it means moving towards transparency and weighing candidates based on real differences rather than spin-doctor politics that emphasizes laying in wait for some semantic slip.
    Not using nukes against civilians vs. using them.
    Striking targets in Pakistan vs. not striking them.
    These are substantive points of debate.

    August 8, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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