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. Hillarylover in Texas

    t was evident to me that Hillary Clinton is tough, smart, well-informed, and can stand up to whatever comes her way.

    He dropped the ball again. The guy also needs to be prepped on his stuttering when he gets nervous. Clinton rocks and she rocks big time. What a great speaker.

    January 21, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  2. baseman

    Once again Obama refuses to pledge allegience to the flag of the United States of America. There are pictures of this with others on stage and he has his back to the flag ,both hands by his side as the others pledge allegience. Think about this............Is this really who you want to lead the greatest nation in the world. Not me. I fought for that flag and Obama denies it. He wont ever get my vote.

    John Edwards is the working mans president. Make it official and elect the man who works for the working man.

    January 21, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  3. Danielle

    How about this....
    I thought it was real nice when she pulled "frederick Douglass" out of the her bag of "negro" mentors. I wonder does she even know anything about him. As a history teacher, if Douglass was still alive he would not at all be behind her. I want to ask her some real questions about why she felt she "shares the same ideas".
    She is so random, such a polished politician who pulls the sheets over our eyes....didn't that happen back in 2000 and then again 2004! When is our nation going to wake up and give someone a chance to change our nation! A new face, a new time!
    No matter what people are saying....as a president, you have a host of advisors to make sure that legislation is checked and balanced, so the experience button need not be pushed..after all, look what Bush experience got us!
    Let's start over! I want a candidate who will bring people together, after all, you can't run the country one sided. The republican conversion vote is needed, point blank and period. With hillary, it is a love-hate relationship. She won't stand a chance againts mccain. Why? Who votes more?
    poor minorities or rich republicans.
    Get real....Vote Barack! Vote Hope and change, anyone can talk....I want someone who can inspire

    January 21, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. Michael

    As for the tone and "pleasantness" of the second half of the debate...

    I'm still an undecided independent in this race. I'm certain I'm not voting Republican; I don't see a stitch of positive people-focused, democratic-spirited, or environmentally friendly respect coming from the GOP candidates. The Dems aren't making it easy to come to a decision yet either. The three front-runners each have things I want in a candidate, no single one has them all. And there are things I like very much in Kucinich too. However, there are things that are starting to help me come to terms with these three, less political/policy based though they may be, that I find very important.

    The more casual form of the second half of the debate, sitting comfortably in chairs on the stage, was I think a good change in the concept of the debates thus far (admittedly, it would have been unwieldy at best with eight chairs). Standing on stage behind the lectern can make anyone look uncomfortable, but sitting should help put them more at ease, and I think it did. And I think it helped highlight some of the personable, real-personality aspects of the three candidates.

    For instance, comparing Edwards behind the lectern to in his chair, he appeared the most personable (No, not the "I could have a beer with him" type. Rather, he seemed comfortable and at ease with what he had to say, and was prepared to speak _to me_ as opposed to _at me_. He was however slightly side-lined for most of the second half so we did not get additional details on his politics/policy initiatives unfortunately.

    The meat of the second half for me came in the on-going "conflict" between Obama and Clinton. They hold very close views on very many items. If you Clinton's word on it the difference between them is that Clinton has experience and actually does what she says she does while Obama speaks a good speech but just shows up to vote present, not putting his actions where his mouth is. If you take Obama's word on it the difference between them is that Clinton has her husband do her dirty work for her (or was that her doing it, he can't tell them apart?!) and vociferously distorts his credentials, his experience and his intent on the actions he takes. In other words, the first half of the debate with bickering between them. It made good television but I don't think it won any new supporters to either candidate.

    In the second half however, seated and being more relaxed and composed, what stood out for me was their "conflict" and how each is handling it. What I saw, over and over again in the long shots, was their reactions/disposition to each other as the other spoke. Clinton gave me the impression of being fully engaged in the process, not quite hanging on every word Obama was saying but clearly intently listening to him and watching him and evaluating what he said. On the other hand, Obama nearly never looked at Clinton when she spoke, as a two year old would to show they don't care about what you're saying. And when by chance he did acknowledge her speaking it was from behind a raised hand, as if suggesting "talk to the hand" or "simmer down little lady". I found Obama coming off as very disrespectful to Clinton, and to a lesser degree to Edwards. His one-off comment in the previous debate where he said she was "likable enough" came back to me, and I'm beginning to see a pattern in his remarks.

    Clinton is aggressive and attacking of Obama and his politics and policies, for sure. She is however respectful of him as a person I believe at all times. Obama though seems to be attempting to demean Clinton as a person, someone not worthy of consideration or of spending his attention on. I find this very disrespectful and actually somewhat disgusting coming from someone who is purporting to be a healer and a candidate of unification. It's disappointing to say the least...just one more reason I'm still undecided I guess.

    January 21, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  5. Ben

    I am really starting to come across to Hillary. I was stuck for who to vote for on Super Tuesday, but she is really showing her toughness, think she can be a true statesperson.

    January 21, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  6. Russell - in MO

    This mud-tossing debate tonight was a great example of combat politics. Several times I thought it more closely resembled the Three Stooges having a pie fight than a Presidential debate. Combat politics has polarized things so much that government no longer works for the people.

    January 21, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  7. Paulie

    I agree with my fellow Canadian about Hillary. A few weeks ago there was a poll conducted up here and she came out as Canadian's top choice for President. Obama was in second. Overall, Canadians preferred Democrats 4:1 over the Republicans, including the majority of supporters of the governing Conservative Party.

    As for this debate, I would say John Edwards was the winner, with Hillary in second. Obama does seem to take too long to explain himself, kind of like Kerry in 2004. There was clearly a partisan crowd behind Obama so at least he had that going for him. But I've seen better debate performances from him.

    It's interesting that Hillary brought up the Rezko issue and I think it's a good thing because voters should be aware of a possive looming controversy. Whatever the extent of Obama's involvement, his ties with Rezko definitely go beyond 5 billable hours. I still can't believe that was Obama's best defense against the accusation.

    January 21, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. James

    I agree with Bill Schneider that the second half of the debate offered more focus to the issues. However, I do believe the first half of the debate still did manage to offer up some pertinent points on issues.

    I see a comment from a Canadian above. Lest we forget, our northern neighbours are our biggest trading partner, have a successful multi-party democracy rather then just two parties as we have, and universal health care (which I am aware has had wait time issues for some critical matters from time to time but that seems to me to be better then no care at all) as well as a fiscal house that has been in order with government surpluses, rather then deficits, for the last 10 years and counting.

    When we focus on all these immigration issues and other matters, I think we need to be careful not to sideswipe our biggest partner in almost all economic (and many other areas) matters. Canada has apparently been hurt almost as much as we on free trade and other matters – the problem is not to the north, but rather to the south. A free trade agreement where the third partner Mexico is simply not on the same playing field in any respect as the other participants is one that needs to be redefined in respect of that country.

    I have to say I view most of the border obstacles put in place for movement between Canada and the US, are unecessary. There are not millions of Canadians trying to come down here illegally. I would be surprised if it was even in the hundreds!

    January 21, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. Tom Davie

    Bill Banks.

    They have NOT held the Obama record up to the same scrutiny as the Clinton legacy chiefly because Obama has none.

    When a guy has no experience, he runs on CHANGE. Bringing people together.

    I am STILL cracking up that he cited Ronald Reagan as a guy who 'had the best ideas' and brought people together .............for issues he was OPPOSED TO.

    Nobody admires when someone gets people together for issues that you HATE.


    January 22, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  10. Rose

    Obama was a disappointment tonight. He strikes me as thin on issues. Yes, his speeches are inspiring but clearly, he is not ready to be president.
    He came to the debate tonight to pick a fight with the Clintons. Well Hillary showed him and us she is tough and very smart.
    He has as advisers, a few former Clinton adviers and acqaintancies. Is there a possibility that these people's bitterness towards the Clintons is seeping through their candidate.
    John Edwards did well. However, he is an angry man.
    The democrat's' best choice is Hillary Clinton.

    January 22, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  11. J Stivers

    Hillary really came on strong on outclassed Obama, who showed he can't take a punch well. Yes people, despite all the "hope and vision" rhetoric, the point of this election for Democrats is to run a candidate who can beat the republicans, which means they've got to be mean & tough.

    January 22, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  12. AJ, IL

    Obama won the debate tonight with Edwards second and Clinton third. I think Obama had to come out strong against the Clinton attacks and distortions of his record over the past two weeks to a month. I was hoping Obama would draw a clear distinction between himself and Hillary on working with the poor and underrepresented. Hillary has had a pass with her claim of 35 years experience (which is mostly fighting for women and children from a high level corporate-type job). I was saying that Obama should have been talking about his community organizing experience about a few weeks back. Hillary can talk about helping women and children from high level corporate position, but Obama can walk the walk of having been personally living the community and working with the poor and disenfranchised.

    Wow! What a spirited debate!

    January 22, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  13. seg

    Why isn't Hillary pouncing on balancing this irresponsible Bush deficit spending?

    January 22, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. JohnS

    Unfortunately, my friend from Canada– Bill Banks–, has lost track of the type of EXPERIENCE the Clintons gave to the democrats and this nation. Why have the Republicans been in power this long?

    The SINS and experiences of the Clintons are still being paid for by the Democratic party. By the time these people left office, the Independent votes INCREASED in this nation. To date, tell me how many Independents (or for that matter, any Republicans) are willing to pay for the KIND of EXPERIENCE that you have OBSERVED in the Clintons, my friend? Was this not the woman who was close to tears in NH recently? When the Republicans start to wage their war on her and Bill, will she be able to govern? There are many, and many waiting in the wing for "pay back" day!!! Do not wish this on the Democrats.

    I pray and beg of people like you, who have a BRIEF overview of the so-called tauted Clinton experience to "chill it"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. ricky ticky tavi

    If you think that you are ever going to get Hillary without Bill, you are kidding yourself. In New York maybe. But in the White House, where they have to live, and where he did his deads? The press will ask daily.
    Also, Bill is too skilled a politician to not make comments when the Clinton machine needs it most.

    Edwards is OK, far less damaging to the country than Clinton, but I still can't see voting for him. He is part of the reason health insurance for Doctors is so high, and that is part of the problem in our medical system.

    Obama has a spirit of hope that I find refreshing. His policies aren't so different from the other two, so the packaging is what makes the difference for me. He can be a uniter, and I think he would be a great face for America.

    Vote for Obama!
    End the family rule of Bush and Clinton!

    January 22, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  16. AJ, IL

    Tom Davie...stop reciting Clinton remarks. Read the entire transcript. When Hillary mis-spoke about MLK role in the Civil Rights Act being less than LBJ, I gave her a chance to explain. But the disconnect for me was that Hillary Rodham supported Barry Goldwater for president and he was opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. How could Hillary be pro-civil rights back in the Civil Rights Era when she supported a presidential candidate who was against Civil Rights?

    January 22, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  17. Anonymous

    I am absolutely sick of the Reagan thing. I mean that's about the only thing they have on Obama and it's pathetic. They tried on his voting Present on 100 issues in the senate too.

    I guess this time around though people are putting a lot more emphasis on the democratic candidate since there is absolutely no chance of a republican president this time around.

    January 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  18. Tutu

    I've been watching and listening keenly from far away Nigeria and my view is very simple. The goal should be singular... for the democrats to win the presidency. As much as I like Obama's campaign I'm not sure he can stand againgst the republicans... I can still remember vivdly how they slaughtered John Kerry. I was really hoping for a Clinton/Obama Candidacy (which should have easily cllinched the white house) but the recent rivalry makes it look less likely.

    I hope the two of them can go back to the time when they discussed issues without attacking each other so much... lets keep the white house in focus... I have noticed the republicans have been very silent... dont take their silence for peace... they are preparing for battle.

    I wish them both good luck on super duper Tuesday as you call it!

    January 22, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  19. Robin

    CNN's post debate TV coverage is really biased towards Obama. When Larry King asked Wolf where the candidates stand in the national polls, Wolf hedged and stammered and said...it's very close....Hillary with a slight lead. Actually, according to RealClearPolitics, Hillary holds an 8.5 point lead on average. And a new Rassmussen poll conducted YESTERDAY gives her a 9-point lead. I am really tired of CNN's coverage. Even FOX is now less biased and I'd never thought I'd say that.

    January 22, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  20. VN

    Obama has been the one who got attacked constantly since his win in Iowa from the Clintons. It has become a mess that he needs to stand up and clarify the clouds that they created to blind our vision and judgment. Edwards has been viciously attacked since he is not the front-runner and does not carry the kind of leadership the country needs. Therefore, he does look like a good guy, the mediator and peace-maker right now. I like him, but am not convinced of his leadership and background to advance him in this election. Obama has run an admirable and exciting campaign and the whole Clintons is such a unfortunate thing that happened to the Democrat race. The only way we will have a Democrate president is we have to show that we can and will offer something new and different from the Republicans, not the same old agenda. I am still convinced of Obama's message for the unity because it all starts with unifying the country before we can actually make something meaningful happen. I will give him a chance.

    January 22, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  21. Shawn Martin

    January 22, 2008 12:12 am ET

    "A Problem is Not as Permanent As Its Solutions"

    As a Professional African American male (who at this time is undecided). and a register Independent.

    I watch the debate this evening I must honestly say it was exciting to say the least. However I was disappointed with Sen Obama and Sen Clinton. I was impressed Sen Edwards affords to redirect the debate to the core issues affecting our country today.

    While watching the debate I thought of a quote I believe? from Abraham Lincoln:

    "We are not enemies, We are Friends, Though Passions may have stranded it must not break the bounds of our affections"

    I believe that Sen Clinton and Sen Obama should to take heed to the quote mention above.

    Now I respect their passion, yet at this time moving forward it would be smart and prudent for one, if not both of them to realize that these personal attacks will only give media more filler for their programs.

    Programs that rarely report stories or information that truly speak to the core issues of America as a whole in my opinion.

    Sen Obama Sen Clinton I Beg you Stop this! show America Democratic, Republican, Independents "We are Ready for Change" As you both have offer change for this country.

    A country in my opinion has for the last eight years has lost creditability, not just with the international community, but more important with the citizens of our homeland

    We are not enemies, We are Friends, Though Passion may have strand, It must not break the bounds of our affections……………….

    Lets talk about the solution's for our country!

    Shawn Martin
    Novato CA

    January 22, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. Tom Davie

    Obama is proving to have a GLASS JAW , which is the Clinton strategy to prove.

    Obama does much better giving speeches where nobody can challenge him on anything.

    January 22, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  23. Beth

    The Rezko deal has to be more investigated..Obama is not what he seems!

    January 22, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. George Vreeland Hill

    Obama is trying to hurt Hillary, and is losing focus on the key issues because of it.
    If this is what he does, then I do not want him in the White House.
    I want a candidate who will tell me what he or she will do to make this country better, and not play dirty for his own cause.
    Red flags go up around Obama every time he speaks.
    He needs to stop this garbage fast.
    Better Hillary than him.

    George Vreeland Hill

    January 22, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  25. Carole

    Clearly Hillary won the debate tonight. What are Obama's voting credentials in the senate that merit his candidacy as compared to Hillary's?

    He came across to me tonight as a candidate who has risen to the level of throwing out the jabs and barbs contrary to what his position on this has been in the past.

    He has become the candidate of change alright....he changes his rhetoric every time when he is challenged by Hillary. His comments about the Reagan issue is an example.

    Hillary has stepped up to the plate and confronted the issues of health care,economy, and bringing our troops home. Her positions are clear. She gets my vote.

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
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