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Issue roundup

04/26/07 10:56PM

Abortion - everyone but Dodd was OK  (He said he didn't regret voting for the not-so - secret right winger Justice Roberts).  No throw to Hillary was disappointing given the importance of the issue to women.  Obama did a good job on the big picture and Biden was the only one who took on Brian's theory that the American people support limits on abortion.Guns - frankly, everyone was vague.  They should have talked about how the Republicans let the assault rifle ban lapse.Edwards should have knocked this one out.  He didn't seem to have a focused message for the tax versus funding of healthcare i read more

Surprising gun revelation

04/26/07 10:47PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)Mumbling ensued in the crowd as candidates answered Williams' question about who has ever had a gun in the house. Richardson, Biden and Dodd quickly raised their hands, but a few seconds passed before Dodd Gravel and Kucinich raised theirs. read more

Winner: Biden; Loser: Edwards

04/26/07 10:45PM

(By msnbc's Joe Scarborough)When Brian Williams warned the candidates that he was going to be bringing up elephant-in-the-room issues, the top tier candidates had to flinch. His first question tied Barack Obama to a corrupt contributor. Obama stumbled a bit but recovered quickly. John Edwards was scuffed up on his $400 haricut that was in direct conflict with his two-America's jargon. But Joe Biden hit his curveball out of the park. Williams asked whether he could assure Americans that he could stop being a human gaffe machine and guard his mouth.Biden's answer? read more

More temperature observations

04/26/07 10:44PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)Clinton just opened her water bottle for the first time and Kucinich leaned over to hand her her glass. As the audience intermittently fans itself, the candidates apparently have a different climate because pages from Biden's notepad occasionally ruffle from a fan somewhere on stage. read more

Biden scores first laugh

04/26/07 10:43PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)There have been a few chuckles so far, but Biden scored the first extended laugh with his one word reply to a question about his verbiosity. Gravel is not only getting laughs, but also prompting some in the audience to talk among themselves. read more

Temperature change

04/26/07 10:42PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)The temperature in the hall seems to go up and down. Some people are fanning themselves with their programs.  read more

Kucinich cuts through the rhetorical fog

04/26/07 10:34PM

(By msnbc's Joe Scarborough)Ten minutes into the debate, Dennis Kucinich became the first candidate to cut through the rhetorical fog of the msnbc debate. Hisstatement that opposing the war while funding it is impossible. That shot at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may not win Kucinich any votes, but it is sure to energize the Democratic base.Senator Clinton sounded defensive on her vote to authorize the war, but got off her heels when going after President Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis. read more

Coughing in the hall

04/26/07 10:30PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)Nearly 15 minutes in, sporadic coughs and clearing throats can be heard throughout the hall. Clinton herself just had a subtle cough. The crowd made its first non-cough/throat-clearing noises as Gravel wrapped up his first answer. It was a soft "hmmm." read more

Clicking cameras for Obama

04/26/07 10:17PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)The clicking camera chorus continues as Obama answers for the first time. As Edwards speaks, there has been no audible reaction from the audience during any of the initial answers. read more

Clinton: Crisp without nuance

04/26/07 10:16PM

Hillary Clinton started the debate with a strong clear position on Iraq, that positioned her as an anti-war candidate.  It was crisp, almost without a whiff of nuance.  Edwards definitely managed to draw the contrast with Clinton on the war without seeming to attack her.  She got a chance to respond, and once again sounded like she would do as much as anyone to end the war. read more

First question: A Clinton-Biden win

04/26/07 10:14PM

Senators Clinton and Biden gave good focused starting answers.  Clinton gave the best and firm overview of the politics.  Biden gave a great brief overview of the tactical military and political questions we face.  They both refrained from attacking each other.  Obama started with the subtle dig, then tried - and failed perhaps for lack of time - the emotional plea.  Obama added nothing to his position on what to do about the war right now however.  Edwards took a dig at Clinton but made a smart point against Bush and our place in the world since the war has started.  Is Edwards the attack dog read more

Ode to Jack Valenti

04/26/07 10:07PM

It is appropriate to start the first televised Presidential Democratic debate with an ode to my friend and mentor Jack Valenti.  When I first got my job as head of the Recording Industry Association of America, Jack was the first person I called.  After-all, he was the dean of Associations and we shared many of the same entertainment industry company members.  He was a gentle man and a gentleman.  Testifying at the same hearing as Jack felt like the clown following the lion tamer.  He was magical.  People would come to listen to him speak, not because they loved copyright but just to hear Jack read more

Brian Williams enters

04/26/07 10:05PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)Brian Williams is now in the hall. The crowd is quiet, whispering to one another. Some folks are mouthing words across several rows to friends without making any sound. Dodd and Edwards are chatting again, as are Obama and Biden. The others are quietly watching Williams or the crowd. read more

Candidates in position

04/26/07 10:03PM

(By Brooke Brower, Hardball producer)All eight candidates are in position now. As reported earlier, the order from left to right is: Richardson, Dodd, Edwards, Biden, Obama, Clinton, Kucinich and Gravel. Edwards and Biden are chatting. Clinton, Obama and Kucinich are writing notes. Richardson and Dodd are drinking their bottled waters. Gravel is looking at Kucinich.  read more