Clinton alleges pro-Obama slant in debate

Clinton: "Maybe we should ask Barack Obama if he's comfortable and needs another pillow." Watch live now.

Published February 27, 2008 2:24AM (EST)

The TV pundits say that Hillary Clinton has to go on the attack tonight if she wants to stay in the race. Within the first 10 minutes -- in a debate in which anchor Brian Williams promises there are "no rules" -- Clinton fulfills that expectation.

In response to a question about NAFTA, Clinton balks, "I keep getting the first question." Then she adds, "Maybe we should ask Barack Obama if he's comfortable and needs another pillow."

There are audible boos.

On substance, Clinton attacks Obama for putting out mailers that argue that Clinton's healthcare plan would force people to buy insurance even if they can't afford it.

"I think it's important that you stand up for yourself," Clinton says. Healthcare experts have praised her plan, she says, and they say Obama is wrong. "We should have a good debate that uses accurate information, not false, misleading and discredited information," Clinton says.

Obama, though, does not back down from his mailers. "The reason she thinks there are more people covered under her plan than under mine is because of a mandate," he says. "The mailing accurately indicates that main difference ... she would force, in some fashion, individuals to purchase healthcare."

From there, the debate quickly dissolves into the morass of healthcare policy minutiae.

Williams asks Clinton about the photo Matt Drudge ran of Obama wearing a traditional Somali outfit. Clinton denies any responsibility, and Obama says he takes her at her word.

Watch the debate here:

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

MORE FROM Farhad Manjoo

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