NBC led with the Democrats' debate on the campus of South Carolina State University with anchor Brian Williams as moderator. CBS had Jeff Greenfield (no link) file a preview. ABC did not mention it even in passing. Greenfield's preview focused on the southern setting, where the Democratic Party is almost half African-American. He listed the issues of special concern to that base: former radio host Don Imus' insults…misogynist lyrics in hip-hop music…the popularity among blacks of Bill Clinton, a candidate's husband…self-inflicted black wounds and personal responsibility, favorite talking points of Barack Obama…poverty and universal healthcare, issues championed by John Edwards.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell saw the "spotlight on Obama," seeing the debate as a test of the strength of his closing challenge to frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton. "He has got plenty of sizzle, huge crowds and has raised more money this year." Mitchell saw flaws in Obama's platform: he "did not deliver" on healthcare and his foreign policy is "long on vision, short on specifics," according to critics. NBC's Tim Russert offered a tipsheet on the challenges facing each of the Democrats--well, not quite each of them. He had no words whatsoever for Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska, nor Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman (those two were not mentioned by CBS' Greenfield either).
For the other six, Russert laid out these challenges: Clinton needs to be "likable, not aloof" and "sufficiently against the war in Iraq;" Obama needs "specificity on the issues" with positions of "substance;" Edwards has to remove "inconsistency" between his emphasis on poverty and his "personal lifestyle;" in the second tier, Bill Richardson can showcase his executive credentials; Joe Biden his plan for partition of Iraq; Christopher Dodd his experience, "no on-the-job training."
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