Clinton, Obama debate in Ohio

February 26, 2008 10:34:18 PM PST
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama clashed over NAFTA, health care and the war in Iraq Tuesday night in a crackling debate at close quarters one week before a pivotal group of primaries.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in the last debate before the all important Texas and Ohio primaries next Tuesday.

And like the Texas debate last week, they fought this one to a draw. But with much more fire on Clinton's part.

Hillary Clinton came out swinging, the difference ? she needed to knock out, and he just needed to keep from being hurt.

At one point complaining that she always got the first question. The first question was about the change in her recent tone, which has been more aggressive.

The debate began with Hillary Clinton defending her recent attacks against her rival Barack Obama.

"I think it's important to standup for yourself," said Senator Hillary Clinton (D) New York.

The beginning of Tuesday night's debate at Cleveland State, the 20th time Obama and Clinton shared a stage--was characterized by a constrained hostility.

"Senator Clinton, her campaign at least, has sent out attacks on us, out mailings and phone calls. They were tough but I didn't whine about it, because I understand this is the nature of these campaigns," said Senator Barack obama (D) Illinois.

And during a lengthy exchange on healthcare, the two fought for airtime.

Clinton's own supporters concede if she doesn't win big in delegate rich Ohio and Texas on March 4th -- Obama will all but have secured the nomination.

At one point, the New York senator's frustration was apparent.

"I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues, but I'm happy to answer that," said Clinton.

She also challenged the moderators with regard to her stance on NAFTA.

"That is the record. You don't have my record," said Clinton.

The question of experience was, once again, front in center, with Clinton touting her expertise in foreign policy.

"Standing on that stage with Senator McCain, if he is, as appears to be, I will have a much better case to make," said Clinton.

"Having a debate with John McCain where your positions were essentially similar, until you started running for president, I think does not put you in a strong position," said Obama.

Clinton needs a big win in Texas and Ohio to climb back into the delegates race. She came out fighting tonight, but Obama fended her off and on balance he comes up ahead, unless she can score a knock out and tonight she didn't.