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Cautious Start to Democratic Presidential Debates (posted April 27, 2007)

The first Democratic presidential produced few sparks as the frontrunners for the party's nomination chose a cautious style and avoided direct confrontation with one another. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards presented a mostly united front of opposition to President George Bush and avoided any type of bold rhetoric or inflammatory presentation that might turn into a rhetorical gaffe. All said they would end America's war in Iraq and would work for universal health care at home.

The only exceptions to this pattern were darkhorse candidates Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. Both criticized the timidity of their opponents and called for much stronger opposition to the Bush Administration. Kucinich pointed out that he has called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. But when the moderator asked if anyone else supported that move, no one raised their hand in agreement. Gravel meanwhile condemned the frontrunners for refusing to rule out military attacks on Iran.

The bottom line on this debate was it produced no major gaffes, few gambles on the part of the frontrunners, and a group of Democrats more interested in attacking Bush than each other. With nine months to go before the Iowa caucus, the major Democrats believe a cautious strategy is the route to victory in 2008.