This debate starts off a little differently in that the candidates are asked to *briefly* introduce themselves. Mike Gravel starts off with a non-brief quote that doesn't seem to lead in well to him just saying his name and profession. John Edwards says his name but doesn't even say what position(s) he's held. He's a former senator and former V.P. candidate. I guess right *now* he's, well, nothing, so maybe that's why he only said his name.
Clinton was just asked about her voting record on troop funding. She was answering the question well until she claimed that in two nights the Republicans will be up on the same stage and that they "all" support the war. Not true. *Not* "all". Ron Paul has voted against the war from the beginning and is about the only Republican who would bring the troops home immediately, and I'm not even sure the Democrats would or could bring them home immediately. If she hadn't so incorrectly and arrogantly generalized her answer, I would have counted this as a good answer; instead, I'm counting it as poor.
We're about 30 minutes into the debate, and Clinton has had the opportunity to answer about five questions. I really don't like her. *All* she seems capable of doing so far is pointing the finger at George Bush. I don't like George Bush either, but I think you have to run for President on more than the fact that you aren't George Bush. Her angry complaining, blaming, and finger-pointing is already starting to grate on my ears. I wish she'd talk more about what to do right rather than about what went wrong. When it comes to poise, charisma, and eloquence, I don't see much that is presidential in her. She's just an unpleasant-sounding angerball.
Huh. Interesting. They're going to switch around the stage, seats, podiums, etc. such that they can have audience members ask questions directly to the candidates.
While they're doing that, I'll agree with the commentators that this has been a lively debate with more back-and-forth action than the first Democrat debate.
The break is over, and candidates are now seated with no podium in front of them.
The rest of the debate involved questions from the audience with more flexibility in answering questions with more give and take between candidates.
With the debate over, my point average with 3 pts. = excellent answer, 2 pts. = good answer, 1 pt. = fair answer, and 0 pts. = poor answer, is as follows:
[1.700] Sen. Joe Biden (based on 10 questions)
[1.538] Former Sen. John Edwards (based on 13 questions)
[1.429] Sen. Barrack Obama (based on 14 questions)
[1.444] Sen. Chris Dodd (based on 9 questions)
[1.444] Rep. Dennis Kucinich (based on 9 questions)
[1.333] Former Sen. Mike Gravel (based on 9 questions)
[1.091] Gov. Bill Richardson (based on 11 questions)
[1.000] Sen. Hillary Clinton (based on 14 questions)
There were only four excellent answers. Amazingly enough, three came from lower-tier candidates, even one from Gravel. The four were: Dodd with the question about English as the official language, Edwards with the question about Iran, Gravel with the question about gas prices, and Kucinich with the question about fixing the deficit.
And, here are the totals of this debate's scores added with the those of the first debate:
[3.316] Former Sen. John Edwards
[3.300] Sen. Joe Biden
[3.029] Sen. Barrack Obama
[2.587] Sen. Chris Dodd
[2.466] Gov. Bill Richardson
[2.400] Sen. Hillary Clinton
[2.319] Rep. Dennis Kucinich
[1.621] Former Sen. Mike Gravel
And, here are the rankings for the two debates and overall (just like I did with the Republican's 2nd debate blog):
1st 2nd Overall Candidate
----- ----- --------- -----------
   Edwards
   Biden
   Obama
 [4 tie]  Dodd
   Richardson
   Clinton
 [4 tie]  Kucinich
   Gravel
I'm shocked again that my scores work out so high for Edwards. I consistently maintain that he doesn't seem to have the experience necessary to be a presidential candidate now nor back in 2004. Earlier today, I watched a political focus group on C-SPAN in which 12 people from Maryland were asked a variety of political questions for two hours. At one point one of the focus group participants described Edwards as "smarmy" which is *exactly* the word I was thinking of at that moment. Despite his smarminess, I guess he's pretty good at these debates.
Biden is, far and away, my favorite Democrat. I like him and trust him more than any other. Obama has done well in both debates, but he doesn't always answer questions as clearly as I would like. I'm more impressed with both Dodd and Kucinich this time around. Richardson had a bad night. Gravel still came off as angry, but compared to the first debate, he was a little more articulate and a seemed a little less crazed.
Hillary, as I've already described, was horrible. Even when I agree with what she's saying, I find it hard to listen to her because she's so unpleasant. That problem was also brought up a few times during the focus group I watched this afternoon.
Dodd and Kucinich and, amazingly, even Gravel have redeemed themselves just enough for me to want to see them in a third debate, but I think the field needs to start narrowing down after that.
As far as CNN's job hosting and televising the event, let me say--they suck. They had horrible audio problems throughout the entire debate and during the commentary coverage afterwards. Certain microphones weren't working part of the time; a lot of time you could hear overlapping audio from multiple sources. After the debate, while the CNN correspondants were handling commentary, it sounded like several commentators were standing right beside a commercial-sized air conditioning unit. As far as the camera work, cameramen were in the shot half the time; some of the directing was bad. Has CNN not done this kind of thing before? They have been in the TV business for a few years now haven't they? I didn't see or hear these kind of technical problems in the 2nd Republican debate on Fox News.