Thursday January 31, 2008
Update Friday: all the photos are here.
2:10pm PST. I might try live blogging this event. My research partner, Lynn Vavreck at UCLA, somehow managed to get us credentials for this event, at the Kodak Theater (in beautiful Hollywood, California) tonight. I flew SFO-LAX late morning and after negotiating the security roadblocks around the venue, arrived about 30mins ago. I have my credentials and so away we go.
The venue is in the Hollywood/Highland shopping/entertainment complex, which is vast and weird to non-LA eyes, I sense Michael Graves must have had something to do with the architecture. Cops everywhere. Satellite trucks out on Hollywood Blvd, and the event has become the focal point for Hollywood’s healthy quota of crazies and loudmouths with bullhorns (“white men, white men, the time for Obama has come…” is what I heard on the way in).
There’s an awful lot of of liberty on display down there…and a lot of security between them and the debate floor…
3PM: Found my post in the “Spin Room”. They gave us decent seats, no one between us and some monitors. New York Times slots and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation a few rows back. And there’s some catering, of a fashion. Could be worse.
Street shots (click on the thumbnails):
4pm: The atmosphere outside the venue is getting quite intense. Lots of well-groomed people (big CA Dem contributors, one imagines) are arriving, skirting around the crowd to be escorted into the debate proper. More journos than you can shake a stick at crowding into two floors of media space: the snack boxes are just about all gone.
5pm: We’re away. Wolf took Q&A from the crowd in the five minutes before air-time. Someone asked where’s Anderson (Cooper). Heh heh.
Opening statements were to type. Obama big picture. Hillary on policy specifics (actually, policy problems): light pedaling foreign stuff. She opened up with health care in response to the first question.
Hillary is also emphasizing the line that “the differences between us are way smaller than the differences with the Republicans”; olive-branching after the stink of the last couple of weeks?
Obama: is he boring when on specifics, so that’s why he goes for the Big Picture? Applause in response to the “I was always against the war”.
Health care is an interesting one. Hillary’s been there, stuffed that up, right? Obama gets to make the dig that the process needs to be totally transparent. Hillary is yet to match that.
Big boom for Obama on the Republicans cutting taxes going into war. Plays much better with this crowd to go after the Republicans than to nit-pick each other’s health care plans. A swipe at McCain as well.
5.34pm: Jason Alexander (George from Seinfield). Celebrity cutaways! Way to distract us from what they’re saying. Thanks CNN.
5.39pm: Curveball from a punter via e-mail on the impact of illegal immigration on African-Americans. Wedge?! Obama did well. Second Ted Kennedy mention; 2nd zinger on McCain. Wolf going for the wegde too (its TV after all). Finally flipping the wedge possibility: Hillary turning the immigration thing into a positive.
5.52pm: The immigration thing always has this farcical side to it when we get to the driver’s licenses thing. Bizzare.
Wow, panic in the Press Room, we lost our feed for 5 seconds.
6.06pm: Did Wolf just ask if the Clinton administration was a pleasurable time? Got a ripple of laughter in the Press Room.
6:11pm: Great question from a punter re isn’t it time for someone other than a Bush or a Clinton to be in power?
6:12pm: Oh my. Line of the Night. “It took a Clinton took clean up after the first Bush, and I think its going to take a Clinton to clean up after the 2nd one” [I paraphrase]. Then they went to commerical without letting OB weigh in on that. From the CNN transcript, line is:
And, you know, it did take a Clinton to clean after the first Bush and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush.
6.16pm: Back from commerical, and Hillary answering again, on Iraq.
6.22pm: Nice line from Obama, “I just don’t want to end the war, I want to end the thinking that led to it”. Wolf again looking for some stink: “that’s clearly directed at you Senator Clinton”. Clinton isn’t biting (and she shouldn’t). She’s tossing Iraq back at McCain.
6.26pm: Nice question from another punter re why Hillary didn’t vote for the Levine amendment prior to the Iraq war. NYTimes op-ed here for some background. Again, Hillary turning her answer into an attack on the Republicans.
6.27pm: Topher Grace cutaway. Dude. He’s sporting a beard and looking serious.
6.33pm: We’re running long? Hillary trying to wrap up, again turning the Iraq issue (her vote) into an attack on Bush and the Republicans. Theme of the night. Sounding an awful lot like a filibuster.
6.35pm: Wolf, to Hillary: “Were you naive in trusting President Bush [on Iraq]?” Obama cna’t get a word in edgewise on this. Wolf desparate to get some stink going, despite his early protestations about letting the candidates have their piece. But Hillary won’t give up the floor.
6.37pm: Obama, attacking now on Hillary’s Iraq vote. “Its important to be right on Day One”, flipping Hillary’s “read on Day One” line. Nice score.
6.38pm: Wow, another segment.
6.43pm: Gary Shandling. Speilberg cutaway. We are in Hollywood after all. Stevie Wonder. Rob Reiner leading the celebrity cutaway count.
6.45pm: Spouse question. Hillary cackled. Its not a good look (Republican ad material, imho).
6.47pm: The “dream-ticket” scenario? A Clinton-Obama, Obama-Clinton ticket? Celeb cutaways, they love it. Obama ends saying “I think Hillary would be on anyone’s list [for veep]”.
6.49pm: Hillary dodges it, talking about party unity and winning in November.
6.51pm: Wolf: “we do the plugs here”. Ends. Obama pulls the chair back for Hillary…!
Now off to the Spin Room downstairs.
7.49pm: Spin Room was mad. A total free for all. I actually knew some of the people down there, insert remark about density of social networks etc.
Off to LAX for the late flight to SFO. Teaching in the morning, back to reality.