January 21st, 2008
10:09 PM ET
13 years ago

Schneider: Second half of debate calmer, better

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - I enjoyed the second half of this debate considerably more than the first. The different format - they were all seated in chairs - facilitated more of a conversation on the issues. It lacked the fireworks of the first half, but it touched on issues Americans actually care about.

Related: Watch Clinton and Edwards discuss their 'fundamental differences'

- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

Filed under: Schneider analysis
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Hubert I. Flomenhoft

    Wow! Three Democratic fantastic candidates. John Edwards for Attorney General. Hillary Clinton is another Margaret Thatcher, but a liberal one. Barack Obama is another John Kennedy. Tough and practical versus inspiring and rational. Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe dreamed about a Clinton-Obama ticket. Wish it could be so. The young folks are going for Barack. Old folks like me are betting on Hillary.

    January 21, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. Matthew

    My take on the debates is thus...

    Clinton has always felt more than a little false to me. Her answers are all too carefully considered and vetted. It's clear that she has the most experience answering difficult questions in a non-committal manner but I don't feel that she has given me anything to be excited about as a candidate. McCain may have completely different stances on the "issues" but he seems more Democratic than she does. I don't want someone who knows how to answer questions in a way that angers the least number of people. I want someone who answers honestly and in a forthright manner. I wish someone would ask Senator Clinton if she believes that the many writers of the Constitution, many far younger and with less considered political experience than she, were too young or too inexperienced to have forged the framework of the country.

    Edwards, for all that he seems an honest fellow, is rather lackluster and lacks the force of personality I would expect from a leader. He will always be just a VP in my eyes no matter how favorable I may find his positions. Beyond that, he's just a politician.

    Obama, whatever weaknesses he may have shown this evening during the first half of the debate is still my candidate of choice as I feel he has both, the strongest most genuine convictions and is also entirely candid in what he says. He may not speak as fluidly as his opponents but my feeling is that he is attempting to give an honest answer rather than pander to the politically safe middle ground. He has the character, integrity and honestly that I would want in my President and he has shown the most intelligence and class in his campaign.

    Something to remember is that a President's power comes from the people. All of the people. Voting in someone who is clearly partisan may satisfy the political agenda but it staunches the chance of any change when you replace one demagogue with another, no matter their views. I will be voting for a candidate that I feel appeals to Americans as a people, not just as a partisan. That is something that neither Senator Clinton or Edwards can claim. They offer a clenched fist and the continuing politics of veteran Washington politicos. I will be voting for change. Even the mere hope of change is a better choice than the desolation of the current status quo. President Obama offers truth and ideals that embody the spirit and passion that this nation was founded upon. I will vote for hope.

    January 21, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. jon

    maybe i missed it but where the debate on illegal immigration thats what 80% of americans care about ..

    January 21, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Maureen Harwood

    If Wolf Blitzer was supposed to keep the debate on track, why did he allow Obama and Clinton all that squabble time? Also, why didn't he ensure Edwards got equal time? Edwards was the Southern gentleman and Clinton and Obama were two kids fighting in a playground. Is it just my perception, or were most of the questions first directed to Clinton or Obama? Come on, play fair everyone!

    January 21, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  5. Stephen Johnson

    The second half was very toned down. Maybe they did not feel as comfortable with the podiums removed. Those heated exchanges of the first half may not have been so entertaining if they were seating closer together.

    January 21, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Cip

    Is it, Hillary, Bill, or memorex. Who is running. Whose politics will be represented, the peoples, Bills, or Hillarys.

    It seems that Hillary agrees when she needs to and retreats when she can when Bill either screws up or positives her campaign. Weird stuff.

    January 21, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Pam Springston

    I think that the Hillary \ Obama squabbles only hurt both in the long run. Edwards came across as caring more about issues than sniping at one another like Obama and Clinton did. I think he will benefit in the long run across the nation, with his showing tonight! he may not win SC but he needs to hang in, hes got a lot to give our country!

    January 21, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. Dale Woodfork

    Matthew... Well stated and I support you for VP...

    January 21, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  9. Barbara LeBey

    In watching tonight's debate, it was evident to me that Hillary Clinton is tough, smart, well-informed, and can stand up to whatever comes her way. Those who asked the questions were extremely even-handed, but the audience was visibly biased in favor of Senator Obama. It took real aplomb and strength of character for Hillary Clinton to continue presenting her views over the boos against her and applause for Obama. Also having the text of what Obama said about President Reagan right before me, I am disheartened to see how Obama tried to weasel out of what he did in fact say. I am afraid that this Obama candidacy would be in for some real trouble if he were to be the nominee. He is not ready for the Republican slaughter that is sure to come. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is now an open book–it's all out there– and she can handle anything that would come her way. Personally, I want a Democrat in the White House. I believe she has shown her medal and can win in a general election.

    January 21, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. Loism

    Seriously, Obama stresses/worries/comments about running against both Hillary and Bill which is poopooed in the press yet your commentators consistantly state something or the other about Obama and where the ClintonS differ. You can NOT have it both ways. Either he is running agains Hillary and Bill stays out of it or you have to admit he is running against both!!

    January 21, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. Karen

    Dang, that girl can debate! I liked when she stated that she would take all voices to the White House.

    Best line of the night.... Clinton... We're Just Getting Warmed Up.

    Worst line of the night.. Obama.... I can't figure out who I'm running against. Uh?

    January 21, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  12. Rene

    Oh I get it now. I remember CNN the political Dem partisan newcaster. Silly me thinking you would consider any comment not pointed in the direction you see fit.
    OK You cinched my vote; I'm going for the REPUBLICAN candidate....

    January 21, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  13. Ted

    As Obama said keep attacking that means he is ahead.To all of the Hillary supporters. What are you scared of if Obama can't win. You should attack Edwards.If Obama can't win why do you guys keep attacking him. Guess you are scared. HA HA HA!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. W. Gruhl

    Why was so little and obsquer attention given to the issue of illegal immegration?
    On the subject of black unemployment and poverty,why wasn't their a question to the candidates as to wether they felt illegal low skilled, low paid labor had contributed to holding down low skilled Black employment and their chances for livable wages?

    Why was there no questions about how they see global warming and how they would approach the challenge?

    January 21, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. jerry

    The last ten minutes seemed to erupt a bit in at least enough fire of a Roman Candle, don't you think? Yes I agree it was much calmer and focused on the issues. I wondered about the last question that was asked...as to whom Dr. King endorse if he had lived.

    I think Dr. King would have been greatly disappointed in the bickering going on in the first half, I think he would have been very much ashamed and appalled...and would have endorsed no one, on that stage. I think he would have looked elsewhere to the likes of Bill Richardson (had he remained in the race, the most positive candidate I have seen in a while, who never hit anyone below the belt).

    January 21, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. DemAtty

    AMEN to Mattthew.... I want a president who opens their hand to lead not one with the waving fist...hiding God knows what!

    January 21, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. Murry

    I agree with Matthew above. Though Obama's strength is in speeches instead of debates, there is no doubting his sincerity and honesty. He has integrity. He is for real. You feel like he's speaking to you.

    January 21, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. H.ROSS

    2 for one is good.

    January 21, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. Division Bell

    I'm a Republican that will vote Democratic this year. Of the 3, Obama strongly appears to be the best candidate that can lead without dividing the country without all the trappings of the status quo. It is a breath of fresh air to see a candidate running on a platform of hope rather than barages of political attacks.

    Edwards is starting to look like a suck-up for the #2 spot...

    January 21, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. Bryan, Illinois

    The second half of the debate was a much better experience for me. Whether because of the format, or because they were weary of it, Clinton and Obama finally stopped backbiting at each other. However, Clinton still couldn't demonstrate how she would beat the Republicans. The Democratic nominee is hardly a guaranteed president. In fact, since 1968, Democrats have only won the presidency three times. The Democrats need a nominee who can beat the Republican nominee. That is how to achieve a Democratic presidency.

    January 21, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. Maxi

    Obama won this debate on the South Carolina level. The audience support of Obama was obvious. Hillary clearly debated to a National audience, and won on that level.

    January 21, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  22. Marianne

    I disagree with you on your views on Edwards, I believe Edwards has passion. His message of change is much more specific than Obama's and offers more hope for honest and plausible change than his fellow candidates. For example, look at the managment of their campaign finances. Edwards vows not to take money from corporate interests while the other two have taken money from big money-ed corporate interests. Clinton and Obama are running their campaign finances in a deficit, while Edwards is solvent. These are indications of how they may manage if they were to make it to the White House. I don't see how the big corporations will be concede any of the power they have gained under the current adminstation without the fight Edwards is committing to by sincerely vowing to help working families. The only plausible hope here is Edwards. I will vote for the hope I see.

    January 21, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  23. Chaunda


    I respect where you are coming from but I am sorry I do not agree. Clinton looked more prepared and that is a good thing. Barack was like the cool kid who did not studied but can use his humor to distract. Edwards looked good tonight although it might be too little too late.

    It is not false to be prepared and ready. No one calls Obama false when he gives these prepared speechs that people are so touch by. The facts is Hillary is ready because much of this is old hat for her. Obama is still learning the ropes and it shows.

    I will complement Barack on admitting that everyone's hands are dirty including his own. I only hope his supporters do not cry themselves to sleep over that.

    I complement Hillary on staying focused and looking very much like a woman who is ready to take charge.

    January 21, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  24. Don

    The clintns back in the white house would be this countrys worst nightmare come true.They are the most divisive and polarizing couple in America,plus it would in affect be Bill clinton;s third term,and hillary's third also,she believes she was ,as much prsident as Bill was during his terms in office. WHow can she bring the country together when 50% of the people despise her,while of course an equal amount worship her.Barack Obama would be much better for the country,in the general election,if Hillary wins the primary,this nation wil be forced to ive thru the clinton scandals all over again and Bill being Bill,will no doubt bring more scandal and disgrace to the country.The main reason I could never vote forhilary,she sold her soul for political gain,if she was never married Bill clinton,would anyone know or care who she is?? I think not.

    January 21, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. bob

    it seems to be coming out now...that the Clintons don't care for each other personally but need each other to pull off a win...Bill will be the power and his wife the face on this duo..........and they would bring along the old gang...of lobbyists,and "secret" players.
    It is very important to clean out the jaded politicians and start with an intelligent president....................

    January 21, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
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