Obama and Edwards Tag-Team Clinton

January 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Barack Obama got some unexpected help in his first clash of tonight's New Hampshire debate with Hillary Clinton: John Edwards, who snatched second place from Clinton in Iowa's caucus on Thursday.Comparing her to the "forces for status quo," Edwards said that Obama "believes deeply in change and I believe deeply in change? Anytime you speak out for change, this is what happens. The forces for status quo are going to attack."

Edwards also defended Obama against Clinton's argument that Obama has switched his positions on health care. "To say that Barack Obama is having an argument with himself is not fair."

Clinton shot back: "Making change is not about what you believe or what you say, it's about working hard." Raising her voice, she said, "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I'm not running on the promise of change. But on 35 years of change."

The back and forth got so heated that fourth-place candidate Bill Richardson quipped, "I've been in hostile negotiations that are a lot more civil than this."

And the man at the center of the action, Obama, chose to step back, parrying Clinton's attacks. "What is important that we don't...try to distort each other's records" and rather work toward "solving problems and bringing people together."

This was the first debate to take place since Thursday's stunning results in the Iowa caucus.

The latest WMUR/University of New Hampshire tracking poll has Clinton and Obama locked into a tie at 33 percent of likely voters.

"This is the one opportunity she'll have," a top Clinton aide told the Huffington Post before the debate. "With just three days to go, she can't go negative on TV. The debate is the only mega news event we've got."

Edwards, who snatched second place from Clinton in Iowa, came in third in the poll and Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., polled a distant fourth at 4 percent.

All day long, each candidate barnstormed the state, insisting he or she was the only true advocate for change.

Eager to take the mantle back, Clinton focused on being "ready to make the changes that America deserves," and on a "new beginning," at the 100 Club dinner in the Hampshire Dome, in Milford this morning, reported ABC News' Eloise Harper and Sunlen Miller.

Yet, Clinton didn't get the best reception from the crowd and was booed by some in the audience who chanted "O-BAMA."

And Edwards told supporters, "The status quo is yesterday. And change is tomorrow. And tomorrow begins today, right here in New Hampshire."

Missing in action from tonight's debate is Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who didn't make the cut under ABC's rules, and has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against the network.


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