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SC Dem Debate Open Thread

I missed the first half hour of the debate, so if you all have anything to get me up to speed on, let me know. I’m not recording every Q&A, just ones that catch my attention.

Here is one of the exchanges I missed:

I came in on the question about whether the sub-prime mess involved race-based discrimination in  targeting blacks specifically who should have not been extended these risky loans. I think the question is leading. Of course blacks (some tricked others undereducated), in the complexity of these loans were roped into the debacle, but the fact of the matter is people at all income levels, including those who couldn’t normally qualify for a loan and more importantly, many middle class folks got into the same trouble with second loans.

John Edwards did acknowledge how the problem could be race-based, given the legacy of discrimination in the U.S., but quite frankly the problem is so large you really have to look at the sub-prime loan debacle as an equal opportunity problem. Now the predatory lending problems that involve payday loans have in the past clearly targeted low-income blacks, latinos and members of the military.

What I am noticing in this debate is that Clinton and Edwards struck clear body blows on Obama on votes that he was “present” for (as opposed to yes/no), including a bill that would help victims of sexual assault. Obama got testy and defensive, naturally, pointing out that some of her criticisms have not been accurate.

Around 9:20, race and this election was directly addressed:

Should the prospect of electing the first black president be a factor in determining people’s votes?

Edwards said he was in no place to presume what should motivate voters in this election, and discussed his efforts at studying ways to eliminate poverty, which would affect those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. Clinton rattled off poverty statistics that show how blacks have fared under Bush versus her husband’s administration. Obama at first doesn’t answer the question either, again focusing on poverty and related issues such as health care access. He does raise the issue of the media focusing on race, and says he doesn’t want to sell the American people short on their ability to take the long view beyond race.

That’s an admirable sentiment, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to play out that way. Too many players — the MSM, consultants, surrogates, even the pols themselves — will spend too much time stirring the pot and letting it boil over.

9:30: CNN’s Joe Johns pulled it back to race and quoted Toni Morrison’s infamous quote about Bill Clinton being the first black president.

Obama took the diplomatic route and really didn’t answer the question, other than to admire the ability of southern white men like Bill Clinton and John Edwards to “create a different vision” of society in regards to race relations. Hillary Clinton’s answer was to give props to Dr. King for the diversity of the candidates onstage.

Obama raised the issue of the disparity in incarceration of black men and the injustices in the criminal justice system that make it clear our society have a long way to go. Hillary Clinton pointed out the gender inequity that persists — women still earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and women of color make 67 cents on the dollar.

Edwards referenced his experience of living in the segregated South and its impact on people here — and the fact that Republicans may not deal with racial injustice, but Democrats are ignoring the obvious as well. He aptly noted how so many neighborhoods in America are self-segregated, and how those with means are the only ones able to move to where the better schools are and away from crime ridden zones.

More after the jump.9:40: Clinton was asked about the role of her husband in her administration, and if there is a risk that Bill will overshadow her.

Man, she didn’t answer this one at all, and only talked about her 35 years of experience and how she will represent the people of America. This was a legitimate question because of the unique position she would hold as president and the spouse of a former president.

Barack Obama focused on the role and importance of presidential spouses generally, but also dodged the question of Bill’s influence on Hillary’s administration and segued into a discussion about taking on the GOP and regaining a solid majority on the Hill and control of the White House. Oy. I guess this is tonight’s third rail question.  

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding