I had the great fortune of being able to cover the last of the 20 Democratic Debates at Cleveland State University last night for coolcleveland.com. You can find my coverage here. With press from all across the country hanging on every word of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the mood in the two giant press rooms and the "Spin Room" (home to Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" and countless others) was of a decisive nature. Because it was the end of the road for these debates -- and arguably for Clinton as well -- there was a full-court press from the journos and pundits on who came out of the action as the winner.
Most of the answers are in my piece. I will say this much: I've never seen Clinton that angry... she seemed ready to boil over just leering at Obama from across the table. She did not come off very well in this pundit's opinion. Which is too bad. I think the only person who has been given that stare-down with greater effect than Obama is Clinton's husband during his well-publicized personal relationship scandal. It was a "low-scoring debate," but with Obama on-point with his message and not getting roped into Clinton's drama(tic) tailspin, he came off as a clear winner.
In my short tenure last night at the CSU Wolstein Center (home to the last Hillary appearance in 1996) I had an opportunity to connect with a great number of political leaders, from the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, to Senator Sherrod Brown, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and the Ohio Democratic Party's Chris Redfern. I also met a number of political journalists, all of whom I greatly admire: Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Candy Crowley of CNN (pictured here). I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the others. I slept for 3 hours last night, so I am a bit rusty... forgive me.
Anyway, the concept of the Spin Room is absolutely fascinating; the pace lightning-quick. Each participant makes their case for their candidate to a legion of media-types. If you ever get the chance (read: lifetime opportunity) to do likewise in an important political year such as this one, I highly recommend it.
Come to think of it, you probably won't get an opportunity that was quite like this one. This is clearly the election of a generation. It was truly a fortunate opportunity for me and I can't help but thank the fine folks at NBC and Cleveland State University for helping hook it up for me. We may not see the likes of such a debate again for a long time; I'm convinced that if either Clinton or Obama (the winner of the debate IMHO) are elected, and you are around my age or younger, you will likely live to see that person's face on some U.S. monetary denomination.
Think I'm being dramatic? Just wait.
I'm sure there's more I want to say on this subject, so if you see me, ask me. I'm likely to remember more then. I had decided long ago to personally endorse Barack Obama, I just never got around to saying so; we at coolcleveland.com have decided to do the same as a publication. But for now, that's all I've got to write here. Much, much more to do. So, it's a refill on green tea and back to work on the book (T-minus 40 days until the first draft is due) and getting interviews lined up for next week's issue.
Thanks to Bill Rieter of the CSU News Bureau for providing the third photo of this series... it was good to reconnect with him after nearly a decade.
P.S. Total non-sequitur here, but if you'd like to read my recent interview with the Verve Pipe's Brian Vander Ark, you can find it by clicking here. I think it turned out pretty good... and from what I understand from his camp, they were pretty pleased with it as well.