SEABROOK, N.H., 7:28 a.m. — “The troops have spoken, and Ron Paul is their choice as their next commander-in-chief,” says an advertisement for the Texas congressman that just ran on the morning show of the local ABC television affiliate here. Of course, the ad doesn’t give any evidence, or anything. But we’ll trust you, Mr. Paul.
The same commercial break also included spots for Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and former Senator John Edwards.
BOSTON, Mass., 4:05 a.m. — 1) Maybe it’s time to stop trying to make these debates hip and tech-savvy. What did Facebook’s “sponsorship” add to the debate other than some pretty lame polls? Couldn’t they have at least done something fun to add the “Facebook touch” on the dry proceedings? Maybe they could have let each candidate write in a status? (“Bill Richardson is wondering what he is doing here.”)
2) I really liked the banter between Hil and Obama throughout the night. Except when Obama said “You are likable enough” to Hilary, I was confused. Was this earnest? Was it an underhanded insult? Was it one of those things you say without really knowing what it means but just because it sort of sounds like the right thing to say in the moment? Was I thinking about the whole thing too much?
3) I don’t think I will be forgetting anytime soon how many years of experience Hillary Clinton has since she managed to mention her THIRTY-FIVE years of experience about thirty-five times.
4) My favorite question was, “What is something you said in a previous debate that you wish you hadn’t said?” Seriously?! Did he expect anyone to actually answer that?! These are politicians! It’s like asking someone on a first date, “So, how did you mess up your past relationships?”
5) There was this wonderful moment when they all started talking at once in response to one of the five thousand questions about “change” when Edwards cracked a smile and – just for a second – I felt like maybe, just maybe, he was realizing just how strange and ridiculous these debates are. Or maybe he was just smiling. It was hard to tell.
WEST CALDWELL, N.J., 2:15 a.m. – Pundits after tonight’s debate concluded, not without good reason, that John Edwards had chosen Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Tom Schaller put it bluntly in his “R.I.P.” post: “The Clinton Era officially ended at 9:34 p.m. EST when Edwards paired with Obama to bury Hillary as a non-agent of change.”
But just minutes ago, in an e-mail flash sent to supporters and received by the News, Edwards seems to have turned against Obama, too. He begins:
“I’m the underdog in this race, running against two $100 million candidates. They’re working feverishly around the clock to try and stop us from getting out our message of change in New Hampshire.”
And here’s his post-spin spin:
“In tonight’s debate, there were two ‘change candidates’ on the stage. But we have very different approaches. I don’t believe you can sit around a table with the drug companies, the insurance companies or the oil corporations, negotiate with them – and then hope they’ll just voluntarily give their power away. You can’t nice them to death – it doesn’t work.”
So much for Edwards as VP, take two. For our young readers, meanwhile, a question: What is this so-called “change” really all about? Who, if any of the candidates, has it right?
MANCHESTER, N.H., 11:35 p.m. — Democratic advisers are out in force in the spin room right now. Reporters are beginning to decamp from Saint Anselm, and the News will leave soon, too.
But check back — among the spinners we caught up with are Elizabeth Edwards; David Axelrod, the chief Obama stategist; Mark Penn, the chief Clinton strategist; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Gov. Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney’s successor in Massachusetts; and Mark McKinnon, the McCain media consultant and the architect of President Bush’s media blitzes.
Oh, and we saved the best for last —now that the debate is over, the Internet in the spin room is working flawlessly.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 10:04 p.m. — Charles Gibson just mentioned to Senator Barack Obama that he had mentioned the Illinois senator during the Republican debate earlier in the evening. Obama admitted he didn’t catch it — he was flipping between football and the debate, he said.
For the hour before the debate, an ABC News broadcast was piped into the filing center. We bet most of the journalists here — if the reporters in our row are any indication — would have preferred to watch the football game.
Why didn’t we just go online and check the score? Because the Internet was broken. Sweet.
Oh, and the Redskins — the Washington Redskins — lost. Could that be a harbinger for the Washington insiders here in New Hampshire?
MANCHESTER, N.H., 9:16 p.m. — Producers and reporters from Fox News make up most of the row in front of us here in the filing center. Is it a coincidence that now that the Republican debate is over, all but a few of the Fox staffers have departed?
NewsHour correspondent and Yale Corporation member Margaret Warner hard at work in the filing room on Saturday night.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 9:05 p.m. — Second pseudo-celebrity sighting of the night: Margaret Warner, a senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and, more importantly, a member of the elite Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. (Unless it was another journalist who looks like Ms. Warner, and the long drive to Manchester is taking at toll on this reporter.) But, if that was really her, shouldn’t she be sitting at home internally debating whether to build two new residential colleges?
Update, 11:00 p.m.
It’s definitely Warner. She was sitting at the filing room desk assigned to NewsHour (see paparazzi picture above). We didn’t bother her, since she looked hard at work, and, sadly, we couldn’t find her after all the chaos had subsided.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 6:45 p.m. — Welcome to the Carr Center at Saint Anselm College, which tonight is the headquarters for what seems to be all of the media in the United States.
In a building that looks something like the Lanman Center at Paine Whitney Gymnasium, hundreds upon hundreds of journalists are seated facing two massive projection screens, like those used at trendy rock concerts. In about a half hour, the Republican debate will begin. (more…)
MANCHESTER, N.H., 6:23 p.m. — As if it weren’t obvious already, the New Hampshire primary is going to come down to the wire.
A new poll released minutes ago by CNN and WMUR, a Manchester television station, places Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton LAW’73 in a statistical tie among likely voters in this state, with each garnering 33 percent of the vote.
The poll was conducted Friday and today following Obama’s decisive win Thursday in the Iowa caucus. On the Republican side, the poll found Senator John McCain leading the pack with 33 percent, followed by Mitt Romney at 27 percent, Rudy Giuliani at 14 percent and Mike Huckabee at 11 percent.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., 9:00 a.m. — The candidates that survived Thursday night’s Iowa caucus have all arrived in New Hampshire, and the News will soon be there, too.
We will be live from the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., beginning Saturday evening, with ongoing reports from the site of the primetime presidential debates sponsored by ABC News, WMUR-TV in Manchester and the social networking Web site Facebook. (Yes, that Facebook. We’re not sure what they could possibly have to do with a presidential debate, but we’ll do our best to figure it out and let you know.)
Charles Gibson will moderate the debates, and we will be here to live-blog them for you. (more…)
NORMAN, Oklahoma, 6:20 p.m. — For assistant professor in Political Science Ange-Marie Hancock, Barack Obama’s resounding win over third-place Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 in Iowa last night is big news — it is a historical moment, she says — but it hasn’t made her decision as a voter any easier.
“Honestly, right now I am square in the middle between Obama and Clinton,” she says with a laugh during a phone interview.