Thursday, September 20, 2007

Biden and Edwards Stand Out at AARP Debate in Davenport

Tonight's AARP debate in Davenport just ended and it turned out to be a great event. To start with there were only 5 candidates there (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson) and that allowed a lot of back and forth and more in depth discussions. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel weren't invited to the event because they are not campaigning in Iowa and Barack Obama declined the invitation because he thinks there are too many debates scheduled.

The candidates played it safe until Joe Biden took off the gloves and told Bill Richardson that being a Governor of small state and saying you can do the same things as president is like saying you can play in the NFL because you played running in high school. Biden also questioned Hillary Clinton's and John Edwards's ability to bring people together to get health care legislation passed. Biden was able to make these comments without seeming like he was attacking the others. Biden kept in line with his reputation of telling like it is when he brought up campaign finance reform as the best way to limit the influence of special interests.

John Edwards was very well received, gaining applause after many of his lines. I think he made a strong contrast between him and Hillary Clinton. However, there were a couple times I thought he could have been stronger though. When talking about lobbyists and health care, Edwards could have mentioned Clinton's fundraiser she held this week that auctioned off access to special interests and he did not. On one question, Edwards started the line about trying to compromise with the insurance and drug companies, but didn't say the line about them eating all the food. Overall, I think Edwards fared very well in this event.

Biden and Edwards were the big winners of the event. The other candidate all had their good moments (Dodd on the Subprime mortgage issue, Richardson on global warming, Clinton on the solvency of Medicare and Social Security), but were not as consistent and well received as Biden and Edwards were.

The biggest loser of the night was Barack Obama, who blew off the event because events like these are "too time consuming." Obama could lose support from likely Iowa caucus goers by skipping the AARP debate in Iowa.

And as it happens, people over 50 — AARP’s membership — made up more than half of the voters in 2004 in the Iowa caucuses.


Susan in Iowa said...

Biden showed why he is getting so much support under the radar. He is so authentic--no convoluted answers, no ducking and weaving. Just straight talk, delivered with authority, intelligence and sincerity. He is plainly up to the job, and a natural, likeable guy. I've met him in northern Iowa, and at the Steak Fry, and he just seems to genuinely like people, and to care so deeply about our country. Since I started talking to people about him, I've been amazed at how many people have said, oh yeah, they already really like him.

T.M. Lindsey said...

I agree with your assessment in that Biden, once again, was the big winner in last night's debate. I think the best barometer to gauge this is by the other candidate's indirect endorsement of Biden. Count the number of times Biden's rivals agreed with him last night, compared to the flip side.

I also hope Biden ramps up the Public Financed Campaign rhetoric in Iowa. This will be good for VOICE supporters, but also for those voters out there, who don't know about Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections. Biden has been the only candidate to take this stance, and this could help distinguish him form his rivals, who I'm willing to wager aren't going to go that far in pushing campaign finance reform.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it can only help Biden to talk more about public financing of elections. For the record, I think Edwards also supports this reform, but Biden has been there on this issue for decades and talks about it more.


crdem said...

Sen. Biden has always been a proponent of public campaign financing as a means of reducing the enormous power of special interest groups. He worked with former Iowa Senator Dick Clark on this issue starting in 1973, and has always supported public financing, even when public sentiment was less favorable on it than it is now. John Edwards now agrees with Sen. Biden on this issue. However, the only time that Sen. Edwards had the opportunity to advance the cause of federal campaign financing he voted with a minority of Democrats, and all GOP Senator's defeating Sen. Kerry's amendment (no. 148 of S.27 on 3/27/01)providing for partial public financing of Senate campaigns. (Clinton, Dodd and Biden voted in favor)Edwards also voted against Sen. Paul Wellstone's amendment (no. 145 of S.27 on 3/26/01) that would have prohibited electioneering communications to targeted communications of certain tax-exempt organizations. (Sen.'s Clinton and Biden and a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans supported it, and it passed (no thanks to Edwards) 51-46.

While it is better late than never on federal funding of campaigns, he is a Johnny come lately on the issue.