Wow. This was a debate not to be missed. Although I do miss the days of having Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich on stage, it was refreshing to see a debate focused on three candidates. (Although, let's be honest, at times it felt like two.)
I appreciated the format, one hour of traditional debate followed by a second hour of sit-down conversation. There were certainly more fireworks in the first hours, however. Obama delivered his promise to take the Clintons to task for their mudslinging campaign of late, and Clinton wasted no time counterattacking. For about twenty minutes, I felt like I was just listening to Obama defend himself from both sides. I think there's no doubt that both Clinton and Edwards used this debate as an opportunity to put Obama on his heels. Given his success among black voters in Nevada, there's no doubt that both Clinton and Edwards benefit from taking shots at him here.
Ultimately, Edwards walked away the winner in the first hour, refusing to engage in the harsh and often child-like squabble between Clinton and Obama.
My vote for the line of the night goes to Obama, who responded to a question about whether Bill Clinton really was the first black president by complimenting Clinton's support of the African-American community, but added that he would have to see Bill Clinton dance before he could determine if "he was a brother."
The second hour was much calmer. I'd be curious to know what, if anything, the candidates said to each other during the intermission. In the second half, though, the tone mellowed out a bit. I did appreciate that the three candidates did manage to come together to have a conversation about larger Democratic strategy versus the Republicans in 2008.
Overall, if you missed this one, I recommend watching the impending replay. If I had to choose a winner here it would be Edwards, only in the sense that he managed to avoid walking away with battle scars.
If you want some sparse, surface level analysis of the debate, check out my meager "Live Blogging" of the debate below. I thought I would give that whole Live Blogging thing a try. Not so thrilling. Maybe I'm not so good at multi-tasking. I would rather just blog, or watch the debate. Rest assured, BlogObama08 readers, for you benefit and mine, that I will never try that again.