Red State Blogger on Dem Debate

Conservative political blogger Erick Erickson of Red State.com talks about Thursday's Democratic debate.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama squared off in yet another debate last night. These time in Texas, ahead of that state's first - of that state's big March 4th primary, rather. And a lot of folks thought Clinton had to land a real knockout punch if she wanted to stem Obama's tide. But for the most part, it was a love fest.

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

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

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

Sen. CLINTON: No, Senator Obama and I have a lot in common.

MARTIN: There was one moment that's getting some attention though. On the topic of the Clinton campaign's accusation that Obama plagiarized a speech, or part of a speech, from one of his campaign chairs, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Obama said this was all just silly politics. But Clinton said she feels otherwise.

Sen. CLINTON: 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: That's not what happened.

Sen. CLINTON: No, but, you know, Barack, it is. Because if you look...

(Soundbite of crowd)

MARTIN: Okay, okay. So we want to get a different perspective on last night's Democratic debates. So now we turn to Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative blog Red State. Hey, welcome back, Erick.

Mr. ERICK ERICKSON (Editor of Blog RedState.com): Good Morning.

MARTIN: How you doing?

Mr. ERICKSON: I'm well. How are you all?

MARTIN: Doing just fine. So I checked out your blog this morning, and it said, the opening quote, good lord, I actually did not see the whole debate, but then made sure to diligently read the transcript and then avoid being led to drink or commit suicide.

Now, your personal political leanings aside here, did you learn anything in this latest debate?

Mr. ERICKSON: Yes, I learned that Hillary Clinton is resigned to defeat, it seems. She pulled all of her punches in the debate. Even the Xerox line came across rather flat. And it sounds very much to me like she very much wants John Edwards' endorsement. She mentioned him twice in the debate, and the only person to mention him.

MARTIN: Do you think that Obama then made a better showing as a result of that, or not necessarily?

Mr. ERICKSON: You know, I don't know that he made a better showing, but then he didn't have to. Hillary Clinton really needed to make a better showing than Barack Obama. She needed to be both compassionate and forceful, and I think she was too muted on both of them.

I think one of the - a conservative commentator I read last night, Michael Graham, said that Hillary Clinton could say she's given everyone in the audience $100 and the folks would have yawned. And if Barack Obama had said he's taking the $100 back, everyone would have applauded and fainted. And that was very much the mood of the crowd, it seemed, last night. They were extremely giddy, cheering even coming back from commercial breaks. But then, Hillary really didn't do what she needed do.

MARTIN: You, in some of your writings, you seem to accept Clinton's assertion that she is the candidate of substance and Obama is the candidate of rhetoric.

Mr. ERICKSON: Right.

MARTIN: Break down for Obama and Clinton on those lines. Drill down a little bit. Why can't either of them offer both.

Mr. ERICKSON: Well, I think it's very hard for anyone who's a policy person to really be able to transcend and relate real world to people. I think it's very difficult - if you think of people you know are extreme policy people, and I think Hillary Clinton is an extreme policy person, I know very few of them who can relate very well to people in a conversational way.

Barack Obama is a very big ideas guy. He knows the country is headed in the wrong direction. Something needs to be changed. He does not drill down into the substance of it. Part of that, perhaps, is because he's - he and the audience, both, would get extremely bored by it.

Clinton, on the other hand, is I think to some degree making the mistake of getting too in the weeds and is boring everyone.

MARTIN: Another conservative blogger on Crunchy Con wrote of Obama, quote, "If this man gets his party's nomination, he is going to be the next president, by a landslide. And he's going to transform this country. If I were a Republican, I'd be very, very afraid. Oh, wait. I am a Republican." End quote. Are conservatives afraid of Obama as the nominee?

Mr. ERICKSON: No, I think Republicans are getting excited by the prospect by Obama. Now, I know a few of the folks over at Crunchy Con or (unintelligible) or others are really whipped into a frenzy by the high-falutin' rhetoric and platitudes.

But the people really don't know Barack Obama. He has been this great empty vessel when people have poured into him all of their hopes and aspirations. I've got to tell you. I bought a Wii yesterday, and it's more audacious than his hope.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Ouch.

ALISON STEWART, host:

I wouldn't necessarily call Barack Obama an empty vessel.

MARTIN: No.

STEWART: (unintelligible) head of the Harvard Law Review as an empty vessel, buddy.

Mr. ERICKSON: I don't mean to mean that as a negative thing towards him. I guess I should clarify. No, it's just, if you ask people about Barack Obama's rhetoric - or, I'm sorry, about his policy statements and his positions, they really don't know a whole lot. All they know is he's going to bring change. And if you ask five different people what change he's going to bring, each of those five people are going to give you a different answer. And so that's what I mean...

STEWART: Like he's kind of a mood ring for people.

Mr. ERICKSON: Exactly. That's probably better than empty vessel. He is a mood ring for people. I like that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Okay, it'll cost five bucks. I'll talk to you later.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I want to turn for a minute to the Republican side. Since we last spoke to you, John McCain has become the presumptive nominee. What's the conservative base thinking about McCain these days?

Mr. ERICKSON: Well, as of yesterday, they actually like him now because the New York Times dared to get on his bad side.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Let's talk about that. Is he happy that controversy has erupted?

Mr. ERICKSON: I have talked to some folks behind the scenes in the McCain campaign, and they have all said to me, it's been unanimous, that it cannot have come at a better time. Because, we've got to remember, there's still a primary going on, and we have Texas. And this is going to do nothing but rally some folks to McCain who might have stayed at home or protested for Huckabee, which would have helped Huckabee get some more delegates. So they are really of the mindset that Texas is going to be where John McCain clinches it. Huckabee is no longer a factor, thanks to the New York Times.

MARTIN: How's your stamina these days?

Mr. ERICKSON: Their stamina?

MARTIN: Your stamina. The debates - this is a long protracted kind of situation on the Democratic side, are you doing okay?

Mr. ERICKSON: I am worn out on theā€¦

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ERICKSON: I'm ready for this thing to be over. Can it be Christmas yet?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ERICKSON: And I don't have the money for presents yet. And I'll go into debt this year just to get through this season.

MARTIN: Us too, probably. As we all try to keep up, keep our energy. Hey, editor of the conservative blog Red State, Erick Erickson, thanks so much, Erick.

Mr. ERICKSON: Thank you all.

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