Democratic debate sort-of-live blogging continued

And we're back for the second half!

Published February 1, 2008 1:56AM (EST)

(This is the continuation of what we're calling, probably not as cleverly as we think, sort-of-live blogging. For the first half, see here.)

8:57 -- The organizers at the Generation Obama event are claiming 700 people in attendance here. As always, when listening to an organizer's estimate of crowd size, I'd take that with a grain of salt. Also, as of the commercial break, the RNC has sent out eight e-mails responding to the debate.

9:00 -- Blitzer takes a low shot at Clinton, asking her what about her experience as first lady qualifies her for the presidency. Derisive laughter at Clinton here, but she manages to keep her composure.

9:02 -- Clinton ends her answer on Blitzer's question on a high note, saying that she gets up every day working for the public good, and that her bipartisan efforts have helped people. She cites the example of 20,000 National Guard troops in California who have health insurance because of a legislative effort she worked on with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

9:03 -- In response to a reader question from Politico about why Obama and Clinton should be trusted to run the country without having business experience, Obama gets in the line of the night. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he says, hasn't gotten a good return on his investment in the campaign. This one catches even the next moderator up off guard; he has to pause for a moment before going to the next question.

9:10 -- Had some HTML coding difficulties for a little while there, but we're back! And just in time for a question about dynasties, both Bush and Clinton. The crowd here loved that one. Also, Pierce Brosnan is in the audience, but for some reason everyone laughed at him. No one would ever have done that to Sean Connery.

9:12 -- Another commercial break.

9:16 -- As we come back from break, the camera pans through an antiwar protest. The lone Ron Paul sign takes up a lot of space. I can't hear the first question over the sound of everyone at the bar shushing each other, always an effective maneuver. But the question, according to the chyron, is about whether voters should worry whether Clinton's stance on a pullout from Iraq would become an open-ended commitment. Can't totally hear the answer over the shushing and dull roar of continuing chatter, until she gets to a good point about what to do with the the Iraqis who've helped the U.S.

9:19 -- Obama goes after McCain again, saying McCain's comments about potentially staying in Iraq for 100 years shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the world situation. Obama goes on to list the similarities between his and Clinton's positions on Iraq, before flipping to say that he's worried about mission creep and that he's more electable against Republicans because he offers a clearer difference, since he didn't support the war at its beginning. Big cheers.

9:22 -- In response to Obama, Blitzer says to Clinton, "That's a swipe at you." "Really?" Clinton responds sarcastically, "we're having such a good time here." And she moves on without taking the bait.

9:25 -- Another reader question from Politico asks Clinton why she voted against the Levin amendment requiring Bush to report to Congress on U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq prewar. Clinton responds that she voted for the war authorization in order to get the inspectors in.

9:27 -- Who knew Tobey Maguire had such a pensive face? Wait, was that Tobey Maguire? Could it have been the guy from "That '70s Show"? Now I'm confused.

9:35 -- Blitzer asks Clinton whether it was a mistake to trust President Bush, and Clinton looks frazzled. I can't hear her response, though, because the crowd is going wild.

9:36 -- "I think I made a reasoned judgment; unfortunately, the person who got to execute the policy did not," Clinton says.

9:37 -- Obama comes back pretty well, points out that the title of the actual war authorization, well, was about authorization to go to war, and that people voting for it should have known that. Obama notes that one of Clinton's arguments is that the new president should come in with experience on Day 1, says he thinks it's important the president comes in being right on Day 1.

9:38 -- Another commercial break. Thank God; I can feel the carpal tunnel creeping in.

9:42 -- We're back. Once again, people at the bar -- competing to be the loudest at shushing each other is not really so effective.

9:43 -- We're in Hollywood, so why not anger some major Democratic fundraisers with a question about concerns regarding "sex and violence coming out of Hollywood"? Obama says he rejects censorship, prompting a smile from Steven Spielberg. Obama wants tools to help parents, he says, adding, "I don't mean to be insulting here, but I do think it is important for people in the industry to show some thought." Rob Reiner looks disappointed.

9:44 -- It's Stevie Wonder! Everyone here at the bar is as excited as I am; apparently there's some hope for my generation after all.

9:45 -- Oh, my God, we're 15 minutes from the end of the debate and there hasn't been nearly enough controversy! Time for a question about the candidates' spouses, specifically Bill Clinton and his campaigning tactics. The crowd here eats it up. Lots of shots of Chelsea Clinton. "At the end of the day, it's my name on the ballot," Hillary Clinton points out. "I know that as we go forward in this campaign, it's a choice between the two of us ... At the end of the day, it's a lonely job in the White House, and it's the president of the United States who has to make the decisions."

9:47 -- Blitzer asks if there's a possibility of what some consider a "dream ticket," Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton. Crowd here can't decide whether they like that or not, but are more appreciative of Obama on the top of the ticket. Obama says it's too early to say either way.

9:49 -- Obama says, "I'm sure Hillary would be on anybody's shortlist," and even the pro-Obama crowd here thinks that's a low blow. They jeer him a little and give a positive reaction to her response.

9:50 -- Clinton shills for her national interactive town hall on the Hallmark Channel, and as Obama cracks up a bit -- don't worry, Clinton's in on the joke -- the crowd here boos her.

9:51 -- And we're out! After removing their mikes, the two candidates share a hug and a brief chat.

9:52 -- For some reason, the bar's music has gone from Stevie Wonder before the debate to "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" after. It's the night's low point.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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