Election 2008


Policy Takes a Back Seat to Campaign Gaffes and Innuendo in “Final” Debate

April 17, 2008 12:38 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
ABC’s Philadelphia debate focused less on questions of policy than politics and ultimately electability in the general election.

30-Second Summary

During the two-hour debate, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama answered questions about a number of campaign and personal issues that have dogged them over the past few months.

Though the debate did touch on tax cuts and whether and how fast each candidate would pull U.S. troops from Iraq, most of the questions were of a political or historical nature.

After beginning with a question regarding the oft-mentioned possibility of the two candidates sharing the presidential ticket in November, the debate quickly turned to Obama’s personal associations with controversial figures in the past, the validity of his patriotism and Hillary Clinton’s exaggerated comments about a dangerous landing in Bosnia in 1996.

Commentary following the debate noted that the format made it difficult to designate a true winner, but most agreed that Clinton edged out a win as the personal nature of the event put Obama on the defensive and allowed several opportunities for Clinton to launch attacks.

However, a number of observers criticized the debate moderators, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, for their concentration on nonpolicy questions.

“In PA debate, ABC is the clear loser,” read Tom Shayles’ headline in The Washington Post.

The debate provided the final chance for the candidates to address each other before the potentially decisive Pennsylvania primary on April 22. Should the race continue beyond that day, another event has been planned for North Carolina.

Headline Links: Little policy in Philadelphia debate

Background: A second Philadelphia debate

Reactions: Obama on the defensive

Opinion & Analysis: Blame all around

Key Players: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

Reference: Debate video


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