The New Hampshire Democratic Debate

With two debates involving ten candidates I only saw two people I could take seriously as president. If experience is a factor, Bill Richardson might make the best president of the bunch, but he doesn’t make a good enough candidate to get the chance. Richardson was best prepared for the final question regarding admitting mistakes as he’s made a few. At least he was willing to admit it as the others dodged the question:

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I’ve made a lot of them. One that I particularly remember — I think it was here in New Hampshire, the first debate — I was asked who my favorite Supreme Court justice was, and I said, dead or alive? (Laughter.) I said — I should have — I should have stuck to the alive because I then said, “Whizzer” White, because I idolize John F. Kennedy and I figured if he appointed “Whizzer” White, this was a great Supreme Court justice. Well then I find out that “Whizzer” White was against Roe versus Wade, against civil rights — (laughter). You know, so that’s — that wasn’t a good one. (Laughter, applause.)

Being included after the field was narrowed down to the final four certainly helped Richardson. Edwards joined Obama in trying to get Clinton to be the one voted out at the next tribal council. As things got heated, Richardson got in one of the better lines of the debate as he said, “Well, I’ve been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this.” This served to also remind people that he has negotiated with foreign leaders. He also didn’t hesitate to remind viewers that he was the only governor there with executive experience.

While Richardson had a good night, the big winner was Barack Obama. Seeing Edwards and Clinton argue over change only highlighted the fact that Obama now dominates the race. He might lack the experience Richardson has, but he was the only other person I saw tonight who appeared the least bit presidential.

Once again, seeing Edwards I couldn’t help but wonder why he is even on the same stage as legitimate contenders to be president. It’s amazing how far a big smile and lots of ambition can get you, but it won’t be enough to win. Clinton didn’t do herself any favors either when she tried to compete with Obama by claiming to be an agent of change but instead appeared to be imitating Edwards as someone consumed with anger, as seen in this video:


Ultimately Obama won by both looking the most presidential and by denying his opponents the opportunity to change the current dynamic before Tuesday. Only Richardson might have given anyone reason to shift their vote to him, but he is too far behind for that to matter.

The full transcript for the debate is here.

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  1. 1
    Ryan says:

    Richardson continues to say that he will go back to being the Gov of NM if he doesn’t get the nomination. Do you think there is any chance he would consider being Obama’s VP? (this would be basically a dream ticket for me) Would Obama want him, or is there someone that would make more sense in your opinion?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    People running for the presidential nomination are unlikely to say they will settle for the VP slot, but they generally accept it when offered.

    Politically I have my doubts that they would have a ticket with two minorities on it. It might partially depend upon how many votes Richardson gets in the west. If it looks like he could really help the Democrats win more western states there would be more of a chance.

    Implicit in these responses is that the VP pick will be largely for political reasons, and whether Richardson is the best man for the job doesn’t matter much. At this point I have no idea who Obama would pick. Based upon recent elections, someone who can bring in Florida, Ohio, or the west would make sense but there isn’t always a good choice based upon such calculation.

  3. 3
    Ryan says:

    Hmm. How about Ted Strickland…(not so much a question for you, just thinking to myself.)

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Maybe, but I’m not sure if selecting a governor who has been in office for such a short time would exacerbate Obama’s problem of only having been in the Senate for a short time.

  5. 5
    Ryan says:

    Or maybe he would want to play up the “Washington outsider” theme. So far it seems as “change” is beating “experience”. Strickland’s approval ratings were a record high 68% back in May (most recent I could find).

    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I think I trust Obama to make a solid choice.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    There’s no guarantee Obama will make the right choice. I supported Kerry in 2004 but was not happy with his VP choice. At least he now realizes it was a mistake.

  7. 7
    Tai Jim says:

    It’s a shame that that ABC chose to assume the role of gatekeeper of taxpayers’ airwaves and narrow the parameters of the debate by excluding Kucinich, who I believe has more experience in Congress than all the other candidates and offers a perspective that reflects the actual interests and sentiment of the majority of working people in the country.

    I guess that’s what happens when you advocate immediate plans for troop withdrawal from an illegal occupation, defense of Constitutional Law, and healthcare for 47 Million uninsured and 54 Million under-insured Americans.

    Obama/Edwards/Clinton/Richardson? Troops in Iraq to stay indefinitely or at least into 2013?!?!???


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