Political Junkie

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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Ooh, snap! Source: Getty Images hide caption

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Last night's Democratic debate in Ohio between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was saucy! I was rapidly firing IMs to friends: Lots of Did she just say what I think she said?'s and Ooh, snap!'s. They sparred for 16 minutes on health care alone! Trade policy, campaign tactics and Iraq were also on the debate table. I still can't decide who turned out the victor. A tossup, perhaps? Today we talk to our political junkie Ken Rudin about last night's debate and much more: Senator John McCain's (R-Ariz.) apology on behalf of a supporter's disparaging comments about Obama; a new poll that says McCain would beat both Democratic hopefuls in the general election; and next week's crucial Democratic primaries in Texas and Ohio. If you have questions for our political junkie, leave them here.

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I think Barack Obama's unruffled responses to Hillary Clinton's comments displays the type of personality/character that the U.S. needs - Someone who will respond and react to situations with calm and deliberation. This ability is one of the reasons I am backing him.

Sent by Sharyn Kane | 2:24 PM | 2-27-2008

Campaign Financing.

First of all, I think Obama won last night's debate.

I finally got through on a call, and you had already moved off the debate.

Anyway, my comment is that Russert was so concerned last night in the gotcha game in suggesting Obama has flip-flopped from his commitment to use public funding for his campaign that he was incapable of recognizing Obama's innovation in campaign fundraising.

The root problem with campaign funding seems to be the suggestion that people and corporations can BUY an election, which is the appeal of public funding. However, with Obama's scheme of getting millions of small donations from individuals ostensibly accomplishes the removal of big money from "owning" a candidate.

I would love to hear Ken's take on this.

Sent by Jerry, Buffalo | 2:29 PM | 2-27-2008

Just looked at the Obama webstite and wanted to post his stance on No Child Left Behind:

"No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers."

Just wanted to counter what the lady from Ohio just said.

Thanks!

Sent by Richard | 2:31 PM | 2-27-2008

So tired of the way that Neal and his guests are dismissive of the callers comments when they don't fit with their own. Neal and guests seem more interested in hearing their own voices than listening to what callers have to say. Why even bother with the callers' comments?

Sent by Melanie | 2:32 PM | 2-27-2008

Did Obama really not hold any oversight hearings for the subcommittee which oversees NATO - NATO is fighting in Afghanistan which is declining into turmoil is it not?

Obama's reason for no oversight was "well I've only been chairman since Jan 2007."

Sent by AJ Fish | 2:36 PM | 2-27-2008

I am shocked and embarrassed hat the media are obsessed with bickering, personal attacks, "he said- she said" in this day and age when the country is suffering from major economy, a war at no end with lives lost, billions of dollars spent a month, poor health services, worsening poverty, the gap increasing between the rich and poor, the list goes on and on...I wonder when the American children grow up, what their adult counter parts would say to them? Why that all media and politician and some people are are obsessed with the personal attacks than really looking after our country and our people? No one has given me an answer yet! Can you comment?

Sent by K in Virginia | 2:39 PM | 2-27-2008

In last night's debate Mr. Obama could not quite bring himself to repudiating Mr. Farrakhan, who supports him. The moderators did not press him too hard on this matter. Mr. Farrakhan has praised Hitler and called Judaism "a gutter religion." Hitler was responsible for the death of about 30 million Christians, in addition to 6 million Jews. How can Mr. Obama not repudiate him clearly and publicly? Why did your program didn't even mention this issue?

Sent by L. Raijman | 2:44 PM | 2-27-2008

Congratulations to your commentator from Texas for refusing to make a prediction about the primary. If only more people in the media would resist the demand to predict the future! Why not just report on and analyze the news after it happens?

Sent by janet | 2:51 PM | 2-27-2008

Both Fidel Castro and former Arizona Governor Jack Williams were succeeded in office by a man named Raul Castro

Sent by Patrick Burt | 2:53 PM | 2-27-2008

For some time now, I've been searching for the missing piece in the Clinton campaign - the "thing" that seems to be frustrating an otherwise highly successful candidacy. The best I can do is this: she - and her husband - respond to Sen. Obama in a way that resonates as outrage - fury, in fact, stemming from Obama's refusal to fold, step aside, and recognize her rightful title to the Democratic party nomination. In short, her "I'm honored to be here with Sen. Obama" message on one day followed by the "shame on you Barak Obama" the next strikes Democrats as, well, undemocratic and suggests that she is offended by the process of competing for the nomination. Your thoughts? Am I on to something here?

~ Bradley Best, Storm Lake, IA

Sent by Bradley Best | 3:04 PM | 2-27-2008

Clinton made reference to the Feb. 23 SNL skit. Why has't the media seen fit to headline the same issues? "Eloquent but empty" and "empty rhetoric" are phrases used to describe Obama's speeches. Obama claims "change" is the key yet revels when Kennedy and Dodd, the old boy network, supports him. It frightens me that personality over substance may decide the Democratic candidate.

Sent by NANCY FOX | 3:05 PM | 2-27-2008

Clarification: when I wrote "How can Mr. Obama not repudiate him clearly and publicly" I had in mind his repudiating Mr. Farrakhan. I assume Sen. Obama repudiates Hitler. It seems he should also repudiate all who state Hitler was a great man, as Mr. Farrakhan did.

Sent by L. Raijman | 3:06 PM | 2-27-2008

Personally I think the supporters of Hillary Clinton seem to overlook one important thing. Senator Clinton is not well liked by most all of the Republicans in Congress. She is also not well liked by ANY Republicans I know. I think if she were elected, she would not have the ability to "de-polarize" the Congress, much less the country. I think most would like to see her fail which will make it more difficult for to get anything done.

Senator Obama on the other hand has already won the support of many Republicans I know, and is in my opinion, our best chance at moving this country forward into the 21st century. He is the real deal and the most inspirational candidate I've heard since John F. Kennedy.

Sent by Scot Roberts | 4:12 PM | 2-27-2008

Two quick comments:

The first is personality may have a bigger role in the coming years than substance or even experience. To be honest, I don't fully understand what people mean by either, but a new face with a different mentality towards politics and foreign countries for that matter will be a great asset. Obama is an energetic and naive young candidate, which makes him perfect for change. I don't care if Clinton has 400 years of experience under her belt, it gives me good reason to not vote for her for that same reason.

Second, Clinton is losing steam because she picks fights that young voters don't care about. I'm not talking about health care or social security, I am talking about what others have stated as 'little attacks.' When Clinton tries to say that Obama steals lines from other politicians, all Obama has to say is "So what?" Because a great line was said by someone else it makes it wrong to use it? I bet if you asked him personally, whether he cares who gets credit for the statement, his answer would be the American People if they vote me into office.

Sent by Joe | 5:29 PM | 2-27-2008

i wish you'd talk about the 'media-slighting' that clinton seems to think she is being subjected to. it's funny, obama never complained about his media coverage when he was down in the polls, but now that she is all she does is complain. perhaps it has something to do with all of the terrible things that she does that always make the news? perhaps if she didn't do these things she wouldn't get such bad press? perhaps if she kept her nose clean like obama there wouldn't be an issue? interesting questions.

Sent by Scott Cyr | 11:47 PM | 2-27-2008

As a political scientist, I can assure you that there is much evidence - empirical, peer reviewed, and published - supporting the claim that Democratic party unity in the days following the national convention correlates strongly with the Dems' share of the two-party general election vote. Several political scientists report that low party unity translates into almost certain electoral defeat for the Democrats. With this is mind, Dems should be carefully weighing the comparative "unifying potential" of Obama and Clinton. If, in fact, Hillary is a polarizing figure (see Scot Roberts' comment) across party lines, are the same polarizing tendencies shaping reactions to her within the Democratic party? I cannot imagine that, for Democrats, there is any question of greater importance.

Sent by Bradley Best | 1:19 PM | 2-28-2008

As a long time listener I'm totally
disappointed with NPR's Obamasized
coverage.
Its bad enough on cable tv do we
have to be subjected to it on NPR?
NPR was always my saving grace.
Not anymore!!!
Shame on you NPR.
And Neil I agree with Melanie 2:32pm
Dismissive of callers. I can't believe
my ears. A woman called up about Hillary and you wanted to shut her up
quick responding Yes Yes I think we get
the idea. You are one rude guy.
Please NPR give us a new show!!!!!!!!!
Not Talk of the Obnoxious. Please
We're paying for this?

Sent by earthkeeper | 1:09 PM | 3-1-2008