Go to contents

“A Clinton is needed to clean up after another Bush”: Clinton

“A Clinton is needed to clean up after another Bush”: Clinton

Posted February. 02, 2008 08:35,   


A one-on-one debate between U.S. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was held yesterday at the Kodak Theater, ahead of ‘Super Tuesday’ on Feb. 5, when 22 states hold primaries.

A Gallup poll survey reported that the two candidates are in a neck-and-neck battle in approval ratings, as Clinton, with 43 percent, slightly outperforms Obama, who has 39 percent. The two engaged in a fierce verbal skirmish over the issue of Iraq, health care and economic policies during much of the near two-hour long showdown.

But the much-anticipated Democratic debate lacked the drama seen before the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26, when the two engaged in negative mudslinging and references to race. The latest debate proceeded relatively cordially, with Clinton and Obama avoiding direct confrontation.

In particular, the two candidates suggested the possibility of choosing the other as a running mate in the presidential election after the party nomination to form a united front against the Republicans.

In the Kodak Theater, located in the center of Hollywood where the Academy Awards are held each year, many of Hollywood’s top stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Pierce Bronson, Diane Keaton, Stevie Wonder and Rob Reiner were present.

○ Experience vs. Change

Clinton opened the debate by emphasizing that she is prepared for the presidency. She said, “The nation needs a president who can handle a number of pending issues right from the first day of taking office.”

Obama hit back, saying, "I respect Senator Clinton’s experience and record. But the most important thing for the next president is sound judgment.”

On Iraq, Obama criticized Clinton for voting to authorize the Iraq war in 2002, saying, “I was opposed to the Iraq war from the start.” He added, “Don’t you think that a Democratic candidate is better positioned in a battle with the Republicans if the person has consistently argued that going to war was an ill-conceived strategy?”

Clinton defended her position, responding, “I concluded we needed to send a weapons inspection team to Iraq, but didn’t expect President Bush to go to war.”

Clinton and Obama debated over the economy such as tax and financial expenditures, but there were no significant differences in their positions.

Both candidates voiced disapproval of Republican front-runner John McCain’s “incoherent” stance on tax cuts.

○ Three Decades of Bush and Clinton?

The highlight of the debate was the controversy over a long-term rule under Bush-Clinton administrations. A woman panelist raised the issue, asking, “I am 38-years-old and have never seen a presidential election without the name of Clinton or Bush on the ticket. How can we bring about change when the two families have occupied the White House for three decades?”

Clinton responded to the question with humor, “I regret that we have a Bush in the White House at this moment.” She added, "It took a Clinton to clean up after one Bush. It might take another to clean up after another Bush.”

Prior to this debate, New York Times columnist Nicholas Christophe pointed out in his column on Jan. 31, “A candidate should not be banned from running for the presidency due to his or her family background. However, there have been no democratic countries, even among the least developed ones where four presidents from two families have held on to the presidency.”

A sarcastic tone regarding the long-term rule of the two families is spreading on the Internet as some jokingly have remarked that other Bush-Clinton family members should be elected like Jeb Bush, president Bush’s brother, and Chelsea Clinton.

triplets@donga.com sechepa@donga.com