The Austin Chronicle

Live Coverage of the Obama-Clinton Debate, Part 2

By Lee Nichols, Wells Dunbar, Richard Whittaker, and Jordan Smith, February 21, 2008, 8:37pm, Newsdesk

Lee: Still at a commercial break. Thank god, here in the media room they just turn off the monitors instead of forcing us to watch ads for hemorrhoid cream. Jordan has headed off to go stalk Matt Taibbi again.

Richard Whittaker: Oh, and a potential Clinton mis-step with the home crowd. She mentioned Sen. Kirk Watson's "rabbit-in-headlights" moment on Hardball the other night, and there was a "boo" (maybe an "ooooh") in the press room. Especially bad since the former mayor of Austin is in the crowd in the debate hall. Obama picks up a quick cheer by mentioning that he got endorsed by every major Texas newspaper.

Wells Dunbar: Finally, the "say something shitty about your opponent" portion of the contest has resulted in some real fireworks – for all that's worth. Glad CNN still has it in them to get to the bottom of Obama's so-called plagiarism controversy after protecting John McCain from the Times' "smears" all day. Silly season, as Barack says, is truly upon us.

Richard: The "not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox" line got a mix of "she went there?" and applause for the audacity of it from the press corps. However, one real question. Who says Xerox any more? What, was the Mojo wire busy?

Wells: The whole "he speaks well, so that's a strike against him" attack is so lame, and Republicanesque, and so flat-out retarded – like saying the pretty girl can't be smart too, or the guy with glasses must be good at math. (I suck.) It's GOP identity-politics bullshit at its most base level, and belongs nowhere in the Democratic debate.

Jordan: Well, I'm just going to have to accept it, Taibbi ain't here. That, or he's seen me and is hiding. Maybe I shouldn't have written him those emails last week about how excited I was at the prospect of meeting him …

Lee: Clinton was prepared for this debate. It seems to us that she is talking more than Obama, and as they came back from break, the Univision guy tried to ask a question about defense, and Clinton steered the discussion back to health care. It sounded like CNN moderator Campbell Brown tried to protest, and Clinton just ran right over her and continued on. Only 15 minutes left, and the candidates have wrested control away from the moderator.

Jordan: Yes, she's talking and talking … and at times not making complete sense. Case in point: When did she ever "represent 80 countries"? What does that even mean? Anyone?

Jordan: No answer. That's OK, no one here in the press room seemed to know what that meant either – well, at least no one offered any serious, or printable – ahem – answers. In other news, I've given up on my hunt. Taibbi's not here – he's not even in the spin zone thumbing his nose and scowling. I'm going home to cry in my fat bag of swag.

Lee: But the rest of us are still here. The debate was supposed to run only 90 minutes, but apparently we're going into overtime.

Wells: Clinton (to paraphrase): 'Everyone knows I've been through some crises.' Not sure how the adultery card's supposed to play, but there it is.

And we're wrapping it up with a classy moment and a handshake between the two.

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