First Presidential Debate at 4 p.m.

Today at 4 p.m., the Democratic presidential candidates will go head-to-head for the first time, and it'll be moderated by NBC anchor Brian Williams and broadcast live on MSNBC.

Use this space as an open forum to discuss their performance.

To kick things off, we'll note some of the questions posed by MSNBC talking head Chris Matthews:

How will Hillary Clinton, the only woman on stage, look in this line-up of men? Will she radiate with charisma? Will she debate with strength and modulation? Will she be cool, persuasive and appealing? Will she clearly stake out her position on the war in Iraq and on Mideast policy generally? Will she stick her neck out in this first joint appearance or simply give it the minimum, playing not to lose?

Will Barack Obama engage head-to-head with Hillary? Will he bring the debate to her, challenging her vote to authorize the war, questioning her proposal to keep a residual military force in Iraq, and demanding her position on any military action against Iran?

Will John Edwards, a native of South Carolina, show off the same platform skills he shows before crowds? Will he demonstrate the maturity to match Hillary? Will he prove himself the senior national leader to Obama? Will he prove, as he did for us in the Hardball College Tour last year in North Carolina, that he is far more prepared for the presidency than he was in 2000?

Will Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, or Bill Richardson (or all three) succeed in opening up the debate, in proving themselves in the same league with the frontrunners? Will one of them throw a punch which forces one of the three leading candidates to respond?

Will Dennis Kucinich state a position in the war in Iraq that drives the other candidates to either join him or distance themselves from him?


And don't forget to vote in BlueOregon's range-voting presidential preference survey. Deadline is Friday at midnight.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    For those of us that are working and do not have MSNBC, will this be streamed anywhere?

  • Michael Conlin (unverified)

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    Emberea Associates, through the use of its proprietary, patent-pending technology,, is inviting viewers of tonight’s debate to do just that. To learn more about the process and how to register, visit:

    Be heard.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    Actually, I discovered that MSNBC will be streaming this debate live on their website. Yippy!

  • GlobalFishing (unverified)

    I guess I'm throwing away my vote so far on these democratic picks: 1)Bill Richarson 2) Mike Gravel 3) Write in Candidate (Al Gore)

    Otherwise, I throw away my vote on these picks: 1)Write in Candidate (Jeb Bush) 2)Rudy Giuliani 3) John McCain

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    I heard Chris Matthews say today that Rudy Giuliani is wearing a dress in more pictures than Hillary Clinton.

  • (Show?)

    Does anyone know if they will make this available for viewing after the debate is over. I'm in Korea and won't be able to watch it as it's the middle of the day here.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    Isn't it a bit early to be holding a Democratic presidential debate? I mean, talk about divide and conquer... who set up the debate, the GOP? When is the first GOP primary contender debate?

    I think it's way too early to make a decision.

    Sure, it'll be interesting to see all the current candidates in one places, and talking about issues. But I sure would hope that the format would be q&a, with a series of questions on issues being posed, and each candidate having a chance to state their position on the issues. It's much too early to allow the candidates to actually debate one another, IMHO. Right now, I think us voters still need to figure out exactly what the differences really are between all these candidates...

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    A debate is supposed to demonstrate the difference between candidate. How then is it too early?

  • Mike Hatten (unverified)

    I feel have an embarrassment of riches. I waiver between Obama and Edwards -- currently Edwards. That said, I would be proud to vote for anyone on that stage although Gravel seemed a little out of my mainstream. Edwards seemed the most pragmatic while still chasing the ideal of the USA living up to its potential. I will be honored to attend the Edwards town hall in Portland next week to give my support.

  • Proud to be a liberal Democrat (unverified)

    My analysis of the debate:

    Biggest jack-hole: Biden, because of his parting snipe at Kucinch and Gravel attack them for "happy talk" and rabidly slobbering about he has no problem using force.

    Most impressively humble: Edwards, for admitting (again) his vote to attack Iraq was just plain wrong, rather than trying to justify it or blame the adminstration for misleading hin like other candidates.

    Most troubling: Richardson, as much as I really want to like him, and believe we should elect somebody besides an anglo white male this time, every time I hear him talk he just seems too certain he's one that is of the leadership elite and our job is just to follow (He even admitted as much.) Extra plus points though for a common sense defense of the 2nd Amendment as a Westerner, that was anything but sucking up to the NRA.

    Most forgettable: Dodd. Nice guy, good views, just uninspiring as a leader.

    Most inspiring: Toss up between Kucinich and Gravel (too bad they don't have a chance). Although Kucinich can't get elected as Prez, he would make a great VP with portfolio to get health care reform passed.

    Most sold-out: Clinton because of her formulaic answers which really don't give any confidence she really represents average folks. And her refusal to disavow that she would attack Iran, given the politically defensible chance.

    Most missed: Gore. (Although the talk about Bloomberg as V-P is bad, bad, bad.)

    Second biggest jack-holes: The moderators and the people who made up the questions (non-audience questions). Some really idiotic questions: If there were two attacks on the same day, what would you do? Know I was being questioned by a jack-hole.

    Less than I thought and hoped: Obama, even though he clearly is smart and quite capable of doing the job as far as I can tell, suprisingly unpresidential in this appearance. After the snarky question about the NAACP boycott of S.C. (which I happen to agree with for commercial activities), I would have thought Obama would have been quick enough to point out that this is different because this is about the electoral politics and the most important election in recent memory. The people of S.C. have the right to hear and see for themselves the candidates for the most important elected office in the land.

    Most faithful to the true spirit of the Democratic Party and the legacy of Wayne Morse (god he was good): Gravel going away. He has the age, experience, and lack of concern what others think to tell it like it is, even though a bunch of self-serving baby boomers don't want to hear it.

    Best line of the night: Mike Gravel, in response to a smart-ass question, completely misrepresenting his comment that, when he entered the race, he said it didn't matter if he won or lost, so why he was there? Sorry I can't find the direct quote, so I'll have to paraphrase from memory. He said it was like when he first got to the Senate. He was awed and wondered how he got there. But after he was there a couple of years, he wondered how some of the rest of them got there.

    He went on to say in plain language that dishonest candidates who talk in political code about "nothing is off the table" when it comes to Iran are really talking about a pre-emptive nuclear attack. Even though he didn't get to say much the rest of the debate, when he did get to talk he did the Democratic Party and Wayne Morse proud.

  • Washco Progresso (unverified)

    It's insanely early to hold these debates, but I tuned in because seeing so many candidates on stage is just plain fun. Not the tired choregraphed drizzle of the top two corporate appeasers. Gravel was proof enough of that. So, my $.02 ---

    Dodd: Not a bad Dem, although he gave a blank check to Bush for the war. You could do far worse.

    Biden: A seasoned scholar of international diplomacy, the kind of quality we'll really need in a Prez in coming years. I've generally liked Joe but always had a problem with that plagirism incident in the seventies. I think he's grown since then, but he just doesn't light a fire under me like some others.

    Edwards: Although I like the populist talk, it is interesting that he owns the largest home in his county. He has a solid record of voting for bazillions for the North Carolina defense industry. I just don't see him differentiated much from the typical Democratic go-along-to-get-alongers in Congress.

    Obama: Have to confess I haven't studied him that much. It's clear he's intelligent and charismatic, but I've become so jaded about politics that I really feel I have to vet people carefully before they get my vote. One good speech does not a world leader make. He sounded hawkish on Iran too which definately tempers my enthusiasm.

    Clinton: Leaving aside the harmful free trade agreements of Bill's administration, the DLCs corporatist pandering, the rumors of her former drug running legal clients in Arkansas, I cannot vote for a Clinton the same reason I cannot vote for a Bush. We have too many dynasties in this country! Why do we want to have a political tradition of voting for family lineages? That's tantamount to monarchy!

    Richardson: I need to research Bill more, but he's spot on about our needing an Apollo project on renewable energy. The best time for that was thirty years ago. I was chagrined about his not calling for Gonzalez's head because he's hispanic, but at least the guy is candid about it. I don't think we should care at all what a person's race is, my problem with Alberto is he's pro-torture. Overall though, I have a good opinion of Bill so far. Nobel prize nominations should count for something.

    Gravel: God I loved this guy. A little rusty in our polished marketing age, but oh, what words of wisdom. He's too old to give a damn about what not to say. He seemed vaguely familiar to me so I Wiki'd him and was pleasantly surprised to learn of his Watergate era progressive actions. And he wants common citizens like us to vote for federal initiatives! Edwards might recoil at such a populist notion. We definately need more elders like Gravel guiding our country.

    Kucinich: saved the best for last. I regretted having to vote for somebody else last time because Dennis can't win. I don't think I'll sell out my dreams next time. Why oh why can't we have fusion voting like Europe? Dennis understands better than anyone else running how to cultivate a worldwide garden of peace and promote thriving communities here at home. And he's got the chutzpah to impeach a schlemiel like Cheney. What more d'ya want?

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    I was glad to see those green, salt-of-the-earth candidates all taking separate, private jets to the debate.

    Can you say "hypocrites?"

  • (Show?)

    You wanted them to carpool?

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    You wanted them to carpool?

    I want them to practice what they preach. Seems they're all too good to take commercial flights or mass transit to the debate.

    It's futile to try to justify the elitism and hypocrisy of our government class, Kari.

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