Overall, despite Ted Koppell being a terrible moderator, I was pleased to see Kucinich given as much air time as he was. More than Edwards and Gephardt, and on par with Kerry, Dean & Clark. If anything, someone at ABC seemed to make a point of giving Kucinich, Sharpton & Moseley Braun equal face time, unlike most of today's coverage that didn't see fit to do the same, focusing on the Dean/Gore connection and everyone's reactions to it. Particularly galling as it was, in my opinion, Kucinich's best performance yet - a heartening thing in an increasingly disheartening campaign.
KUCINICH: And with all due respect to you, Ted Koppel, who I've admired over the years greatly...Sharpton came out strong, too, denouncing the idea that any of the candidates should heed Gore's call to step down and unite behind Dean:
KOPPEL: There's a zinger coming now, isn't there?
KUCINICH: Yes. To begin this kind of a forum with a question about an endorsement, no matter by who, I think actually trivializes the issues that are before us.
For example, at this moment there are 130,000 troops in Iraq. I mean, I would like to hear you ask during this event what's the plan for getting out. This war is not over. I have a plan, which is on my Web site at kucinich.us, to get the United States out of Iraq. I want to talk about that tonight, and I hope we have a substantive discussion tonight and that we're not going to spend the night talking about endorsements.
KOPPEL: The question is, will there come a point when polls, money and then ultimately the actual votes that will take place here in places like New Hampshire, the caucuses in Iowa, will there come a point when we can expect one or more of the three of you to drop out? Or are you in this as sort of a vanity candidacy? Reverend Sharpton, you go first.Of particular note, Moseley Braun confirmed my suspicions of her true intentions (Vice President) by staying on the sidelines and playing peacemaker:
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think the fact that I'm doing so well in many states in the polls and ahead in national polls of people with far more money shows that I know how to deal with the national deficit probably better than anybody on this stage.
So I think that in all seriousness the problem is that we are reducing politics to people with money. I think that Americans want people with ideas.
The suggestion is that if you can't buy your way now, that you can't seek the highest office in the land. That is to really sell the White House. I think that people with no money that can generate the kind of support I'm generating, that can galvanize a lot of young people, a lot of people that left this party and voted for Ralph Nader, this is what wins elections. I refuse to allow us to continue to act like the person with the best dollar -- or the biggest dollar -- has the best message. If money is going to win this, Bush is going to win. Nobody up here is going to raise the money Bush raises.
KOPPEL: You're out of time.
SHARPTON: What we must do is raise the votes he can't get. And you can't buy those votes.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, just to say, in short, I think it's important that in the memory of Paul Simon and all the Democrats who are looking to us for leadership, that we turn toward each other, not against each other, and take on the real enemy here.Slate has an excellent analysis of the whole thing. In the end, backtracking a bit from my defeated point of view yesterday, I think the nomination is still pretty wide open. I suspect there's a lot of backrooom dealing right now as KerryGephardtLeibermanEdwards figure out how to best counter DeanGore - you KNOW the Clinton's phone was ringing off the hook last night - and if Kucinich ever had a chance to gain some momentum, it's in these next five weeks. Hilary Clinton, of all people, said it best:
"I remember back in December of 1991 when my husband was I don't think above 4 percent in the polls," said Clinton, speaking after a housing conference in Manhattan. "Through the months of the primaries and the caucuses, there was a hard-fought battle and it finally ended in June of 1992 when Bill clinched the nomination. He was running third behind President Bush and Ross Perot. So I want to see how the process plays out.")Well said.