Live-Blogging the Big Forum (Circus?): The Candidates Meet on Stage

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Next up, a forum of the presidential candidates. I’ll try my best to live blog. When the candidates were introduced a moment ago, there was a standing ovation with wild applause. In fact, Barack Obama got a standing ovation from a portion of the crowd when it was announced that today is his birthday – some people even sung.

This is going to get rowdy.

Obama says we have investments we have to make in the American people, and balancing the budget won’t keep him from making those investments. That means health care, education, etc. will not be compromised. Edwards made this point earlier, and I applaud them both for making it. Balancing the budget is a seductive idea but at its core, not a progressive one.

Edwards kind of ignores his first question in order to say that he is in favor of big change. He says, “Who will be about change? Who is the candidate for change?” That’s how he’s trying to distinguish himself from the more moderate Clinton (who has already been in the White House for eight years), and the incrementalist Obama. Biggest applause so for.

Both Dodd and Clinton say we need to open up our media environment. More voices, less consolidation. Dodd says DailyKos is valuable because it gives people an alternative to the mainstream. Kucinich finally gets a question and uses his opportunity to speak to mention that he is the only candidate who supports non-profit, single-payer health care. This may be the only forum on the campaign trail where that’s is roundly embraced.

Edwards says he’ll close Gitmo on his first day as president. No more torture, no more black sites. And transparency on the war on terror should come hand in hand with transparency in government. He calls for every candidate to stop taking money from lobbyists, as he and Obama already do. Massive applause, standing ovation.

Kucinich: impeach Cheney, and if Bush doesn’t end the war, impeach him too. People love it. Like I said, this may be Kucinich’s best venue.

Soft power: Edwards suggests making primary school available to 100 million children worldwide, primarily in Africa and the Muslim world. That will change how the next global generation perceives America. Expensive, but interesting. Oh, also, Edwards says “global war on terror” is a bumper sticker slogan; Clinton says it isn’t. Just so you know where they stand on that all-important issue.

Asked if they would hire a White House blogger as president, the candidates all say yes. Edwards says that his would be named Elizabeth Edwards. Gravel says he would do it himself.

Big dustup over money from lobbyists: Edwards calls again from the Democratic Party to stop taking it. Senator Clinton tries to get around the issue, but the moderator asks her straight up if she will continue to take money from them. She says yes, and then has a hard time explaining herself. She actually defends lobbyists because they represent “nurses, social workers, and yes, corporations that employ lots of people.” Then Obama jumps in and says all sorts of bad things about lobbyists and gets a standing ovation.

Parallel live-blogging! Standing ovation ends it.

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