I just watched the insta-reaction from CNN's focus group. It seems the audience really liked Clinton's determination to push for universal health care (as do I). By contrast, they were decidedly annoyed when Obama went after Clinton -- as they were when Obama defended his record. Personally, I didn't mind the sparring. It's a debate, not a dinner party -- aren't they supposed to argue with one another?
Hillary Clinton and John Edwards haven't had much trouble convincing experts that their health care plans will reach more people -- and come closer to truly universal coverage -- than Barack Obama's. That's because Clinton and Edwards would require everybody to obtain health insurance and Obama wouldn't. (If you've been sleeping under a rock and haven't heard this debate, read here and here.) But Clinton and Edwards haven't had such an easy time convincing voters about this, because – quite frankly – it's not that easy a proposition to defend.
Eve, Yes, it did get ugly. But my standards are low. We weren't talking about idiotic process stuff. It was about how they voted on specific measures, their respective approaches to change, and so on. I can live with that. Right now, John Edwards is talking about poverty. And that alone is reason to be thankful he's on the stage, even now. From the day this campaign began, he's driven the policy agenda--not just by embracing ambitious policy initiatives but also by focussing everybody's attention on people who, frankly, don't get enough explicit attention in politics. --Jonathan Cohn
Folks, if you're not watching the South Carolina debate, you really should tune in. I can't take notes quickly enough to keep up, so here's a paraphrased run-down of what's just transpired on the second question... OBAMA: Hillary Clinton has been distorting my record -- including what I said about Ronald Reagan in an editorial board meeting, suggesting I praised Republican ideas. CLINTON: I'm just going by what you've said. You said the Republicans were the party of ideas and that you admired them for it.
It's conventional wisdom that Democrats would have an easier time defeating Mitt Romney than John McCain. Among the reasons: Romney is a transparent panderer, doesn't excite evangelicals, can't claim more experience on national security, and is simply not that likeable a figure. Most of the time, I think that's right. But yesterday, as I watched Romney on "Fox News Sunday," I had one of these fleeting moments when I began to wonder whether Romney wasn't a better candidate than McCain. It wasn't because he changed any of the above conditions. It was because he could speak credibly on the
Barack Obama has taken a lot of grief for appropriating right-wing talking points. And rightly so. Consider health care. When he has argued against "forcing" people to buy insurance, as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have proposed to do, he undermined the case for an individual mandate -- something virtually every expert agrees is necessary to achieve truly universal coverage. But look who's talking like a conservative now.
Livonia, Michigan--John Hillman, 63, is a veteran car salesman for a Ford dealership here in suburban Detroit. And it's just not just any dealership. It's one that claims to have the most Ford sales of any in the nation. But lately business hasn't been so good. Hillman figures it's about half, maybe two-thirds of what it was at its peak, many years ago. And, he knows, those good times may not be returning anytime soon, now that the economy is widely believed to be slowing down.
A lot of people were watching the first segment in tonight's Democratic debate to see how the candidates would talk about race. But it was an early reference to another subject entirely that caught my attention.
Via National Review, the early exit polls from Michigan have it Romney 35 - McCain 29 - Huckabee 15. I've heard the same thing. NR is also citing local news reports that McCain has already left Michigan for South Carolina. That leaves Romney as the only candidate still in state -- presumably, at the Southfield Embassy Suites where his campaign is staging their primary night rally. Of course, early exits had Obama winning New Hampshire, too, so make of this what you will. --Jonathan Cohn
Today's New York Times looks into the issue of whether Barack Obama can win over Latino voters, given their complicated relationship with -- and opinion of -- the African-American community. It' follows closely on the heels of old friend Ryan Lizza's New Yorker article, in which Clinton pollster Sergio Bendixen noted “the Hispanic voter—and I want to say this very carefully—has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” It's an important story, for reasons that go well beyond the campaign horserace. And -- just a reminder -- you read it here first, back in Dece