So far, the general consensus seems to be that Hillary Clinton showed strong leadership and won the debate. Joe Biden made a strong performance from the second tier, appearing knowledgeable and passionate on the issues, especially Darfur.
There was much more engagement in this debate than the previous one in South Carolina. John Edwards criticized Barack Obama and Clinton for legislating and not leading, mainly staying silent on the Iraq war funding bill until they cast their vote.
Edwards and Clinton also disagreed on the meaning behind the slogan “war on terror”. Edwards called the term a bumper sticker and a justification for President Bush’s actions. Clinton drew a contrast to that stance, saying, “I have firsthand experience the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists.”
One problem with Obama was his reluctance to challenge Clinton. He’s slipping in national polling and won’t be able to regain ground maintaining his current strategy. This also is Obama’s first election where he’s up against a formidable opponent. In 2004, his opponent in the Democratic primary got embroiled in a scandal and was forced to withdraw. In the general election, Obama faced Alan Keyes, who was living in Maryland.
Tomorrow, there’ll be a more detailed summary of the debate and a look at the presidential moments.