Candidates Debate Health Care, 'Borrowing Lines'

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Last night's Democratic debate was mostly civil, except when it came down to borrowing speech lines. A look at the issues hashed out, from immigration to health care.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Last night Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama met for another debate at the University of Texas in Austin. After losing a slew of contest to Obama, Clinton was expected to go in the attack. But she kept it civil and even praise Obama saying she was honored to be standing along side him. Throughout the debate, the two agreed on a number of issues. Let's take a listen.

(Soundbite of debate)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): Senator Clinton and I, I think, both agree on many of these issues.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): Well, I would agree with a lot that Senator Obama just said.

Sen. OBAMA: Senator Clinton and I share a lot of policy positions.

Sen. CLINTON: You know Senator Obama and I have a lot in common.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Clinton's only real attempt to get tough came when she once responded to a question about the issue of Obama borrowing lines from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for a speech. Obama called the whole thing silly politics.

Sen. OBAMA: The notion that I had plagiarized from someone who is one of my national co-chairs, who gave me the line and suggested I use it, I think is silly.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. OBAMA: But this is where we start getting in to silly season in politics and I think people start getting (unintelligible) about it. They don't want...

(Soundbite of beep)

Sen. OBAMA: And I'm happy to have a debate on the issues, but what we shouldn't be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. CAMPBELL BROWN (Anchor, CNN; Debate Moderator): Senator Clinton, is it the silly season?

Sen. CLINTON: Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. CLINTON: And you know - you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in; it's change you can Xerox. And I just don't think...

Sen. OBAMA: Oh, but that - that's not what happened there.

Sen. CLINTON: No, but — you know, but Barack, it is, because if - you know, if you look...

(Soundbite of jeers from the audience

Sen. OBAMA: ...if you look - if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions.

STEWART: Talking about policy, Clinton did draw contrast with Obama. Some issues including his health care reform proposal which she said would leave 15 million people uninsured. Obama countered Clinton's plan which requires everyone to carry insurance saying it would force people to purchase coverage they simply can't afford.

MARTIN: The issue of immigration also played large in the debate which was co-sponsored by Unovision and CNN. And Clinton faced a tough question on whether new America should be a bilingual nation. Here is Unovision...

Mr. JORGE RAMOS (Anchor, Noticiero Univision): (Spanish spoken) By now, there are more than 30 million people in this country who speak Spanish.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. RAMOS: Many of them are right here. By the year 2050, there will be 120 million Hispanics in the United States. Now, is there any downside, Senator Clinton, to the United States becoming (Spanish spoken) - becoming a bilingual nation? Is there a limit?

Sen. CLINTON: Well, I think it's important for as many Americans as possible to do what I've never been able to do. And that is learn another language and try to be a bilingual, because that connects us to the rest of the world. I think it is important though that English remain our common, unifying language because that brings our country together...

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. CLINTON: ...in a way that we've seen generations of immigrants, coming to our shores, be able to be part of the American experience and pursue the American dream.

MARTIN: Those are the candidates responding to a Unovision anchor Jorge Ramos.

STEWART: By the end of the debate, Senator Clinton was talking about what could happen at the end of the campaign. Some debate watchers took her remarks, possible, as concession of sorts?

Sen. CLINTON: No matter what happens in this contest - and I am honored. I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.

(Soundbite of cheers)

Sen. CLINTON: And you know...

(Soundbite of cheers)

Sen. CLINTON: ...whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about.

(Soundbite of cheers)

MARTIN: The two candidates have a major make or break moment coming up March 4th with the Texas and Ohio primaries.

Coming up on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT, what happened in weekly segments that puts all the week's news from Iraq in perspective, we call it The Week in Iraq. This is the BPP from NPR News.

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