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It was the Democract's turn — well at least some of them — to meet one final time before the Iowa Caucases. The Des Moines Register, sponsor of the debate, says Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel were exluded because of their failure to meet the paper's criteria, specifically the following: Neither Dennis Kucinich nor Mike Gravel had a campaign office in Iowa by the Oct. 1 deadline, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Gravel also did not have any paid staff in the state by the deadline.
Naturally both marginal candidates didn't take too kindly to the news. The Kucinich camp calls the "entire (selection) process suspect." For his part, Gravel has released a rather trippy music video riff on "Give Peace a Chance."
And with the "big mo" behind Obama and the Clinton camp on the defensive after misteps, including impertinent remarks by campaign co-chair Bill Shaheen that ultimately resulted in his departure, and with the vaunted New Hampshire "firewall" eroding, the debate was an opportunity for the New York Senator to stem some of the damage.
Like the GOP debate the previous evening, the overall media consensus portrays a rather tepid affair with few sharp elbows tossed. MSNBC's First Read has a nice summary of various media assessments of the scrum and quotes The Politico's Ben Smith: "The debate did not … produce a moment likely to change the direction of the race as the campaign shifts from one fought out in the national media to one whose only significant events take place on the ground in a handful of states - primarily Iowa - and in a media environment muffled by the holidays and the snow."
One of the brief sparks of the night was triggered by a question about experience and ended with Clinton on the receving end of this Obama zinger:
This program aired on December 14, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.
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