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Democrats debate experience and change in Iowa

Sunday was the Democrats' turn to court Iowa and the debate focused on experience and change.

Democrats debate experience and change in Iowa The Democratic presidential candidates entered the Iowa debate with one goal in mind - to draw a clear political line between themselves. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are considered the leaders in the race, and it was no surprise that the initial questions revolved around these presidential hopefuls. The major topics of the Democratic debate in Iowa were:

Does Barack Obama have enough experience to be the next President?

 It was a surprise to most that Hillary Clinton passed her chance to attack Obama on his inexperience. "I’m running on my own qualifications and experience. It really is up to voters to make these decisions,’’ Sen. Clinton dodged the question. But she was pressed to explain labeling Barack Obama's policy to negotiate with hostile leaders "naive" and Hillary Clinton had to retaliate with "I don't think any president should give away a bargaining chip."

 New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also ducked the question, saying that Barack Obama represents change, Hillary represents experience, but with him, people will get both.

 Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who has said in the past that Obama is not ready for the White House, declared that he stands by his statements, and that a better foreign policy is necessary in the Middle East and Pakistan.

 Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn, who had served in Congress for over 30 year, simply told Barack Obama that he will not have enough time in January of '09 to get ready for this job.

 When his turn to answer, Barack Obama lightened the mood saying: “To prepare for this debate, I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair.’’ Obama went on defending his position on improving the diplomatic relations with U.S.-hostile countries, explaining that the current policy of not meeting with our adversaries has been far from successful. "If you want somebody who can bring our country around a common purpose, rally around a common destiny, then I’m your guy,’’ Barack Obama closed the discussion on his experience to lead the nation.

 The experience of Hillary Clinton was also a topic in the Iowa Democratic debate. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who is also advocating his presidential candidacy on the platform of change, and Barack Obama, both indirectly attacked Hillary Clinton's experience as a part of the failed politics in Washington. Obama claimed that he is the person, who can break out of the political patterns in the past 20 years, and Edwards said that America wants change, and change won't come if the interests of the lobbyists continue to mingle in politics. Mr. Edwards also criticized Hillary Clinton on her lack of willingness to stop taking money from Washington insiders, to which the Senator from New York responded that it was highly unlikely that Karl Rove would endorse her presidential candidacy. She also called for public financing of elections.

 After this opener, the focus of the debate shifted to more "trivial" topics. Barack Obama lost a few points after calling for a cap on farm subsidies, not a popular position in Iowa. Hillary Clinton also kept the trade discussion away from NAFTA, turning her focus on the agriculture, which she vowed to build up in the rural parts of the country. And John Edwards promised that his first question he would address in the White House would be whether trade agreements would be good for working class Americans.

 When the question of education came up in the debate, all of the Democratic candidates were generally in agreement. Bill Richardson got the biggest applause when he announced his “one-point plan” to fix "No Child Left Behind" by scrapping it.

 Overall, the Democratic debate in Iowa did little to change the people's perception of the candidates. There was no major shift in position by any of the presidential hopefuls and the biggest surprise was the calmer tone and the lack of attacks we have grown to expect in the past month or so, especially between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The "Clinton-Obama" 2008 ticket, hardly imaginable a couple of weeks ago, now seems more likely to happen, and we expect to see even less bickering between the top two Democratic contenders in the upcoming months in preparation to join forces.

 The lack of surprises during the Iowa debate allowed the bookmakers to leave the odds on the Democratic presidential candidates unchanged. Hillary Clinton with odds 4/11 and Barack Obama with odds 12/5 remain the clear favorite to be chosen as the Democratic candidate for the 2008 US Presidential Election, as published by the online oddsmaker Bodog Sports.

Published on 08/19/2007

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