Excerpt from Obama's opening statement, which Wolf Blitzer had to interrupt and which had a minimum of a dozen or more "uhs" and "ums" in it:
don't think the choice is between black and white or it's about gender or religion. I don't think it's about young or old. I think what is at stake right now is whether we are looking backwards or we are looking forwards. I think it is the past versus the future.
BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.
OBAMA: And just to finish up, Wolf. And I think that, as we move forward in this debate, understand we are both Democrats and we understand the issues at stake. We want change from George Bush.
But we also have to have change that brings the country together, pushes back against the special interests in Washington, and levels with the American people about the difficult changes that we make. If we do that, I am confident that we can solve any problem and we can fulfill the destiny that America wants to see, not just next year, but in many years to come.
The transcript doesn't give you a good sense of the rambling nature of the statement - for example, he spent a good 30 seconds trying to figure out how to say "fulfill the destiny that America wants to see" which is a meaningless bit of drek anyway.
From Clinton's opening statement:
Well, on January 20, 2009, the next president of the United States will be sworn in on the steps of the Capitol. I, as a Democrat, fervently hope you are looking at that next president. Either Barack or I will raise our hand and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
CLINTON: And then, when the celebrations are over, the next president will walk into the Oval Office, and waiting there will be a stack of problems, problems inherited from a failed administration: a war to end in Iraq and a war to resolve in Afghanistan; an economy that is not working for the vast majority of Americans, but well for the wealthy and the well-connected; tens of millions of people either without health insurance at all or with insurance that doesn't amount to much, because it won't pay what your doctor or your hospital need, *applause* an energy crisis that we fail to act on at our peril; global warming, which the United States must lead in trying to contend with and reverse; and then all of the problems that we know about and the ones we can't yet predict.
It is imperative that we have a president, starting on day one, who can begin to solve our problems, tackle these challenges, and seize the opportunities that I think await.
So what we have to do tonight is to have a discussion about what each of us believes are the priorities and the goals for America. I think it's imperative we have a problem-solver, that we roll up our sleeves.
I'm offering that kind of approach, because I think that Americans are ready once again to know that there isn't anything we can't do if we put our minds to it.
So let's have that conversation.
Boom. Organized, concise, precise, and right on target.
It was also interesting how both candidates pandered to Edwards voters. I can't count the number of times one of them said, "and I worked with John Edwards," or "like John Edwards said," or "My plan is similar to John Edwards' plan." Even in their opening statements, both candidates praised John and Elizabeth Edwards.
I didn't watch the whole debate, but I watched enough to know that I've made the right choice.