Brown Policy Reports
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Cautious Start to Democratic Presidential Debates
(posted April 27, 2007)
The first Democratic presidential produced few sparks as
the frontrunners for the party's nomination chose a cautious style and
avoided direct confrontation with one another. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama,
and John Edwards presented a mostly united front of opposition to President
George Bush and avoided any type of bold rhetoric or inflammatory
presentation that might turn into a rhetorical gaffe. All said they would end
America's war in Iraq and would work for universal health care at home.
The only exceptions to this pattern were darkhorse candidates Dennis Kucinich
and Mike Gravel. Both criticized the timidity of their opponents and called
for much stronger opposition to the Bush Administration. Kucinich pointed out
that he has called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. But
when the moderator asked if anyone else supported that move, no one raised
their hand in agreement. Gravel meanwhile condemned the frontrunners for
refusing to rule out military attacks on Iran.
The bottom line on this debate was it produced no major gaffes, few gambles
on the part of the frontrunners, and a group of Democrats more interested in
attacking Bush than each other. With nine months to go before the Iowa
caucus, the major Democrats believe a cautious strategy is the route to
victory in 2008.