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Post-Debate Coverage

Aired July 23, 2007 - 21:08   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer and we're going to continue our coverage now of this historic debate. The formal debate actually may have just ended, but another debate is just beginning.
Which candidate did best?

Which one dropped the ball?

Who was the biggest surprise and did they get their facts straight?

CNN has deployed the best political team on television. We're with the voters right now from New Hampshire to Nevada.

Let's get to it -- analysis, reaction, much more coming up.

There was lots of tough talk on race, gender and the war in Iraq. And the two frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, caught flak from the rest of the pack and then clashed with each other, as well, about whether the United States should deal with dictators.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: It is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes.


BLITZER: Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King.

He's in Charleston.

He's watching all of this unfold.

There was a clear difference between these two frontrunners on this sensitive question that was posed on YouTube: "In the first year of your presidency, would you go ahead and meet with the leaders of Syria and Iran and North Korea and Venezuela and Cuba?"

And they responded differently, John.


BLITZER: All right. Hold on one second. Hold on one second, John, because, unfortunately, we're not hearing you.

We're going to try to fix that audio for a second.

Let me bring in Jeff Toobin.

He's been watching all of this unfold.

And you're looking at these live pictures. As you see, as you're watching, the candidates. They're shaking hands. They're continuing their conversations with the people at the Citadel.

We're going to show you these pictures unfold as we continue to watch what's going on.

There you see Senator Dodd -- Jeff Toobin, what did you think on this sensitive issue of having a dialogue, a direct dialogue, at the highest levels -- the difference that was expressed by -- between Senators Clinton and Obama?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I thought on this issue and throughout the debate, this debate was Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Hillary Clinton is the dominant figure in the party. She's the dominant figure in the debate. And everybody else was responding to her.

On that question, you know, Obama, I thought, looked inexperienced and naive. And Hillary Clinton looked like someone who might be president. It was a very big win for her on that question.

And I think this debate, again, showed her to be a very good debater.

BLITZER: She said she would be ready to meet. But she wanted to make sure that there was a lot of advance work done to make sure that such a high level meeting would not simply be a propaganda -- a propaganda statement for these other dictators.

Mary Snow is out in Manchester, New Hampshire, the state with the first primary, watching this with some voters who are undecided -- Mary, and what kind of sense did you get from those voters?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's a surprise here tonight. We're here with 24 Democrats, independents, who thought that Senator Hillary Clinton would be the best performer here tonight.

But the results that we just got in -- this is a focus group -- show that Barack Obama got the most favorable, in terms of the best performance, from the 24 people who are here tonight. Of course, it's unscientific.

And coming in second, Senator Joe Biden, and third John Edwards. Again, this is all unscientific results from this focus group.

But, clearly, throughout this debate Senator Barack Obama was showing some favorable responses to his answers. Some of the things that he got favorable responses were when he talked about fighting lobbyists, particularly on health care -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, stand by, Mary, because we're going to be getting back to you.

Nevada also a critically important player in the early campaign season. Its Democratic caucus will take place on January 19th, right after Iowa.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Las Vegas.

He was asking voters who they think was the best tonight.

What came up with those undecided voters -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the same experiment -- 24 undecided Democrats or Independents. Unlike in New Hampshire, we had a little of a difference in terms of results.

Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton tied with six votes apiece. And behind them, Barack Obama, followed by John Edwards.

We did see the same -- similar trends in terms of reaction during the debate. Many high marks here from these folks when anybody took on the president or they took on special interests. We saw huge spikes during those answers.

Bill Richardson, of course, around here, is a known name because he's the governor of New Mexico. He has a large following in Nevada. He seemed to score well in our focus group. Whether that translates to votes throughout this remains to be seen. But he did well tonight. He tied with Hillary Clinton for the top spot, according to our group here.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to come back to you, because we're going to hear from some of those undecided voters, Ted, as we continue to watch the reaction.

And you're looking at live pictures over at the stage at the Citadel, where this two hour plus debate has literally just wrapped up -- Jeff Toobin, as we continue to watch this aftermath of what's going on, the format was historic, was unique.

And I thought that it was presented in a way that was very pointed to these -- to these eight Democratic presidential candidates, because they were asked tough questions by average people out there.

TOOBIN: I got a great kick out of it. I mean, it's one thing to ask candidates how they feel about gay marriage. It's another thing to have a YouTube video where two women are saying, "Well, why can't we marry each other?" That, to me, was an example of how well the format worked. I think that each time there was a YouTube question coming up, I found myself sort of looking forward to it. I think the questioners did a great job and I think the format is here to stay.

BLITZER: There's no doubt that the questions were -- there were some 3,000 questions that were put forward. And these were all on very, very important issues, and they all made their points. And it was certainly an opportunity for the candidates to express some opinions.

On this sensitive issue of gay marriage, we heard Dennis Kucinich say he supports it flatly. But the other mainstream candidates, the other top tier candidates, they avoided saying they support that kind of -- that kind of gay marriage, although they support full civil rights under civil unions.

TOOBIN: And it was interesting, the audience in the room, even in conservative South Carolina, was very pro-gay rights. And I think that's indicative of the base of the Democratic Party. And they were clearly pushing the candidates towards a pro-gay marriage position. Even John Edwards sounded a little tortured and almost apologetic in not supporting gay marriage.

But the fact is all of the leading candidates essentially have the same position, which is for civil unions, but not for gay marriage, which is not widely popular in the broader electorate.

BLITZER: All right, let's bring in Jack Cafferty.

He's watching all of this unfold -- and, Jack, we're standing by.

We're going to get some reaction from the candidates themselves. We'll be speaking with them and others.

But give us give us -- give us The Cafferty File as you saw it unfold.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was interesting. I enjoyed watching and listening to the questions from average everyday folks as opposed to you polished journalists who are used to doing this stuff.

One of the YouTube questioners, whose son is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, pointed out during the debate that the Democrats were elected in 2006. Their marching orders were to stop the war in Iraq. And she also noted that nothing has happened in that regard in the seven months that the Democrats have been in power.

The candidates then took turns trying to explain why the war is still going full blast and nothing has been done to end it -- politics, the Republicans refuse to join the Democrats in voting to end it, President Bush's intransigence, the Iraqi government not accomplishing much of anything, etc. Etc. Etc..

Well, Dennis Kucinich is about as far as being a top tier Democratic candidate as he can get. But he said something worth listening to when it comes to ending the war in Iraq.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: The Democrats have failed the American people.

When we took over in January, the American people didn't expect us to give them a Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act -- to act quickly to end the war.

And here's how we can do it. It doesn't take legislation. It's a phony excuse to say that you don't have the votes. We appropriated $97 billion a month ago. We should tell President Bush no more funds for the war...


KUCINICH: ...use that money to bring the troops home. Use it to bring the troops home.


CAFFERTY: So here's the question -- is Congressman Dennis Kucinich right to say that all the Democrats have to do to end the war in Iraq is simply stop funding it?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to or go to caffertyfile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

And we're going to get back to you shortly.

Maria Elena Salinas from Univision, and CNN contributor and radio host Roland Martin, were watching the debate together with us.

Let's go to Maria Elena Salinas first.

What did you think?

Which candidate stood out tonight in your mind?

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Well, you know, first of all, Wolf, it was very refreshing to see the debate because of the variety of the questions coming directly from the voters, and, of course, the directness of the follow-up questions by Anderson Cooper. So the debate itself was very, very interesting.

Of course, the answers by the candidates were not as direct.

I think that previously one of your analysts also said that Hillary Clinton seems to stand out because of the directness of her answers. She doesn't seem to be faced (ph) -- doesn't have to take a second thought to be able to answer any of the questions.

I'll tell you, one thing that I was disappointed in is that there was not more talk and more debate on the immigration issue. The Senate virtually dropped a ball on immigration by not approving immigration reform. And that is a huge problem that has been left unsolved. And the country was left even more divided than it was before this whole debate started spilling off not only to undocumented immigrants, but also to legal residents and Hispanic voters. There are millions of Hispanic voters...

BLITZER: All right...

SALINAS: ...U.S. citizens that were watching this debate and that were hoping to hear a little bit more from the candidate on these different issues that affect the Hispanic community.

Maria Elena Salinas, stand by, because I'll be coming back to you.

One sensitive question that came up, was Hillary Clinton supportive enough of women's issues? I want you to listen to what she said.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: I have a great deal of admiration for Elizabeth Edwards, and I appreciate greatly John's comments. You know, I have spent my entire life advocating for women.


BLITZER: Elizabeth Edwards is joining us right now. You raised the issue of who is better for America's women, would it be Senator Clinton or your husband, John Edwards?

You heard her answer tonight, Elizabeth Edwards. What did you think?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: You know, I've always said the same thing Hillary said, that she -- with respect to women's issues, she's in the right place on most everything that I know her positions about. But the truth of the matter is, at this time, American women need a leader, somebody who is not just going to be in the right place, but is going to lead us to the right place.

And the issues that affect women -- we need universal health care. We need somebody who is fighting to make certain that we have good wages, that we're lifting people, women in particular, out of poverty. The face of poverty in this country is a single woman's face. And we need to do something about it.

BLITZER: But what did you mean, Elizabeth Edwards, you caused a big controversy in recent days when you suggested she's trying to behave like a man.

EDWARDS: No, actually, I didn't say it about Hillary at all. I said that -- what I -- I said that I think that women who are forging new ground -- and we've had women candidates before, but, you know, we haven't had enough of them -- that we're forging new ground. And I recalled the days when I was forging new ground as a young lawyer going into corporate clients and trying to be the first woman who had ever been their lawyer.

And in that respect, I felt some conflict, that I couldn't be, you know, maybe as feminine as I might have wanted to be.

And so I understand, you know. That was my personal experience. I was not projecting it on anyone else.

BLITZER: But you have no doubt that...

EDWARDS: The question here -- my experience...

BLITZER: I just want you to -- were you convinced...

EDWARDS: ... is not relevant.

BLITZER: ... in other words, when she answered the question tonight that really came up in part because of what you said in recent days, did she convince you?

EDWARDS: She would do a better job of convincing me if she had a universal health care plan. You heard her say tonight that what we need to do is to build a national commitment for universal health care.

I've been out there talking to people for the last four years, and let me tell you, there is a -- there is a national will for universal health care. Now, what we need is not a national will. We need a leader who will take us there.

And in this election, among this group of Democrats, John Edwards is the one who is doing it. She could go a long way by either endorsing John's universal health care plan, or by adopting a universal health care plan of her own, instead of saying that we need a continued conservation.

Women in particular are underinsured and uninsured. And if we're going to better women's lives, we're going to have to have a universal health care.

BLITZER: One final question, Elizabeth Edwards, before I let you go. Your husband John Edwards seemed to be struggling in answering that question about gay marriage. You support gay marriage. He supports civil unions. He says he's not ready to go as far as you.

What did you think of the way he dealt with that sensitive issue?

EDWARDS: I think, John, you know -- the beginning of this debate started with a man asking if the people would answer the questions that were asked of them. I was extremely proud of John. There was not a single instance in which he did not answer the question asked to him, and this was another example of that.

John is on a journey that a lot of people in this country had been on. We've come a long way. I know that the families of gays and lesbians across this country have often themselves gone on that same journey. We want to make certain that we get to a point where we're not even having to ask this question anymore. But, you know, but people are struggling on that path.

John has been honest, not just in front of this audience, but when he's been in front of gay and lesbian audiences, about where he stands and how far he's come. And he embraced both civil unions, a full range, 1,100 federal laws that impede gays and lesbians access to full and equal treatment, and he also doesn't think that churches -- that government should not be telling churches which marriages they bless with marriage sacraments or which ones they don't.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Edwards, thanks very much for spending a few moments with us. We're going to continue...

EDWARDS: It's always great to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And we're going to continue our coverage of this historic debate down in Charleston, South Carolina.

As we just saw, a questioner put Senator Edwards on the spot.


REV. REGGIE LONGCRIER, HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA: Senator Edwards said his opposition to gay marriage is influenced by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong and unconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation and denying women the right to vote.

So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay Americans their full and equal rights?


BLITZER: He's a minister. He was in the audience.

Did he get the answer he wanted?

The reverend standing by to join us.

Also, surprising disagreement over how long it will take to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. We're going to do a fact check on this sensitive issue.

And it's your turn to weigh in on tonight's debate. Send us your I-Report analysis or commentary to We'll share some of your comments at the end of this hour.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Obama, how do you address those who say you're not authentically. Plus enough?



COOPER: Hey, it's not my question.

It's Jordan's question.

OBAMA: You know, when I'm catching a cab in Manhattan in the past, I think I -- I've given my credentials.


BLITZER: Tough questions all around, including a question from a minister who put John Edwards on the hot seat tonight by asking him about gay marriage. He wanted to know if the senator is using religion as an excuse to support discrimination, he says, against gays.

Edwards called it a very difficult issue.

The man who asked that question is joining Anderson right now over in Charleston, South Carolina -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Wolf, thanks very much.

I'm with the Reverend Longcrier.

You asked your question.

Do you feel you got the answer?

LONGCRIER: I feel that most of the candidates answered what I would have hoped for them to answer, and especially Senator Edwards when he -- he answered the question a second time. And he was clear in saying that he would not use his religion to deny certain people their rights.

COOPER: And why was that question important to you?

LONGCRIER: It was important to me because it was important to many of my congregation. Many friends that I know, and many of the parents who have children that are of a different sexual orientation.

COOPER: What was this debate like for you overall?

You've never been to a debate before.

How was it different than seeing it on TV, actually being here?

LONGCRIER: It -- it was -- it was different. It was dynamic for me. And it was nothing that I had ever expected to see before.

COOPER: And you didn't really even know what YouTube was up until a couple of weeks ago...

LONGCRIER: Yes, a couple of weeks ago...

COOPER: A friend of yours recommended you make this.

LONGCRIER: ...a friend of mine recommended that we get it on YouTube. And he called me last Saturday night and woke me up about 12:30 and said, Reverend, I think that this tape has been chosen.

And I didn't think anything of it. So I went back to sleep. Two days later, somebody told me what YouTube was.

COOPER: Well, we didn't choose them until late last night. We got some great videos all the way up until 3:00 a.m. Last night. We chose some of those.

In fact, Wolf, the video that started off the program tonight, that came in to us very late last night. We had a whole different open for the show and we decided, you know what?

We're going to toss out what we're going to do and we're going to start with the YouTube video with that guy from Portland, Oregon.

So it was -- it was a fascinating night.

I'm not sure how it all came together, but we'll let others decide that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It came together very well, Anderson.

Were you surprised by how well it did come together?

Because as you yourself pointed out, we were all sort of in uncharted territory.

COOPER: Yes, you know, I think it was. It was -- you know, the hardest part is getting people to actually answer the video question. And that, I think, was the hardest part. I think they did most of the time. I think some, you know, we heard, certainly, some stump speeches. And that's always frustrating.

But I think the candidates were -- kind of didn't know what to expect, and I think that was a good thing. And it's going to be hard to see how debates from here on don't use -- incorporate some kind of user generated content, because I do think there's something about these videos. Seeing it just adds another dimension to the debate, and it's a dimension, I think, that's been missing, frankly.

BLITZER: You did an excellent job, Anderson.

It's not easy keeping eight presidential candidates in line. You did you exactly that.

Thank you very much.

And to our viewers, it's your turn to weigh in on tonight's debate. You can send us your iReport analysis or commentary to We're going to share some of those comments at the end of this hour.

Several times tonight the CNN/YouTube debate, everyday Americans asked the candidates questions, asking them to tell the truth and to answer the question. How factual were their responses? Our Tom Foreman has been doing a fact check on several of these questions.

What are you picking up so far, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the truth, as always in politics, can be quite slippery. And in the spirit of raw politics, we looked really at the facts and what they said. Let's look at something Joe Biden said when he talked very emphatically about how hard it would be to pull out of Iraq.


SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth of the matter is if we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq logistically.


FOREMAN: That's what he says. But sources at the Pentagon tell us that there is no Department of Defense estimate on exactly how long it would take. It could take much more than a year. It could take less than a year. The fact is until they know the circumstances of a pullout they can't estimate how long it's going to be.

So his estimate saying emphatically one year is not clear. Maybe he meant it in a general sense.

Beyond that Governor Bill Richardson talked about American aid to Africa, suggesting that it had fallen far short. Aid to Africa under President Bush has quadrupled in the last six years.

He also mentioned AIDS. In 2003 the State of the Union address, the president pledged $15 billion to fight AIDS, much of that in Africa. So the suggestion there that nothing is being done is clearly not accurate.

And Hillary Clinton also said at one point, "Congress should not get a salary increase until the minimum wage is raised." The minimum wage goes up tomorrow, Wolf. It was approved for the first time in two years. It goes up tomorrow and then moves up in steps over the next two years.

Congress also right now is negotiating a pay raise for senators up to $170,000. It hasn't been finally approved yet, but not sure what she meant with that. We obviously need our folks on the ground to see if she misspoke or if that's what she meant.

BLITZER: Well, we're going to continue to check out on that, Tom, thank you very much.

Maria Elena Salinas from Univision and our own CNN contributor on radio is Roland Martin were watching this debate as well.

Roland, let me bring you into this. That was an issue that came up specifically with Barack Obama, one of the YouTube questioners asking the question whether he is black enough. How do you think he handled that question?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he handled the question just fine because that has been an issue that has been talked about over the last several months. And actually when I ran "The Chicago Defender," we were one of the first folks to put that very question on the front page, "Is He Black Enough," because it was sort of out there. So frankly he dealt with that.

He also dealt with the reparations question in terms of his whole notion of how do you deal with that. He said, look, focus on education. He got huge applause with that.

But Wolf, I have to do one thing. I have to take exception to something Jeffrey said. And we talked about how Senator Clinton, how she sort of outshone Obama on the question on meeting with the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela as well as Iran and Syria. First of all, I think the American people are smart enough to know that if Edwards or Obama would meet with them, there would some sort of pre- planning. It's like they would just get in there and just meet with them all of a sudden because remember the set-up to the question was President Carter met with Sadat and met with Begin.

And so I think that was the whole point. As president how would you intervene by meeting with those other heads of state? So that was a set-up. So I wouldn't say that she somehow distanced herself from that. I mean it was a very good answer, frankly on both. I think what Edwards and Obama were saying is we have to engage in dialogue which is what we haven't done.

BLITZER: Let me ask Maria Elena Salinas of Univision what she thinks on that specific question. When Hillary Clinton said you know what I'm not going to guarantee that I would be meeting with the leaders of Cuba, or Venezuela, or North Korea, or Iran, or Syria during that first year. I want to make sure that the ground would be prepared, that they wouldn't just use this for propaganda purposes. And Barack Obama said flatly he would be prepared to meet with them in the first year because a dialogue is better than avoiding that kind of dialogue. What did you think?

SALINAS: And I'm sure that Bill Richardson would have answered the same thing because he believes strongly in diplomacy.

Well, as you know, Clinton was very careful about that. But I thought it was interesting that she was the only one that actually brought up Latin America and specifically mentioned Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Fidel Castro from Cuba in saying she would not meet directly with them. It's interesting because Hugo Chavez, even though he was democratically elected, not too many people have come out and put him on the list of dictators. So that was interesting.

And to combine both the heads of state of Iran and Syria and also Latin America shows that finally somebody is beginning to look to the south and seeing that there are also issues, hot spots and threats in our own continent without having to go all the way to the Middle East to address these issues.

BLITZER: Maria Elena, thank you for that.

Still to come tonight, our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Joe Biden tries to break out of the pack. He uses some harsh language to forcefully argue his points. We're standing by to speak with Senator Biden. Stay with us; much more analysis, reaction of this first ever CNN/YouTube debate.


BLITZER: We turn now to one of the candidates in tonight's debate. Can he move out of the pack? That would be Delaware Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Biden, how sure are you that it would take at least one year to pull out all forces, 160,000 troops or so from Iraq, because you heard others suggest it can be done a lot more quickly, including Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico who says it could be done by the end of this year?

BIDEN: No military man you talk to will tell you that.

BLITZER: So you're flatly saying it's going to take at least a year.

BIDEN: I'm absolutely positively unequivocally. You might be able to, Wolf, do it in nine and a half to 10 months if you took great risk. Remember, look, it took us eight months to get out of Iraq when we didn't go to Baghdad, a war you covered, a war you covered. Now you tell me how you get out any quicker if, in fact, you're being shot at on the way.

BLITZER: All right...

BIDEN: There's no way. Every military person I trust in and out of, in and out of active duty says there is no possibility.

BLITZER: Let me let you weigh in on the question that came up with Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. Would you promise in your first year as president to meet with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria, just to start a dialogue going?

BIDEN: The answer is no. I would commit to do what I've been trying to do as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, engage each of those governments immediately in face-to-face talks with my secretary of state, national security adviser immediately to determine whether or not they are legitimately prepared to sit down and talk. And I would be prepared to do it.

You may remember, Wolf, I'm the first and only guy to go meet with Slobodan Milosevic. I would not meet with him in public. I met with him late at night. I made it clear the ground rules were no press because I didn't want to legitimize that butcher. But I did want to make clear to him exactly what would happen to him if, in fact, he did not cease his genocide.

BLITZER: Senator Biden, thanks very much for spending a few moments with us after this debate.

We're going to continue our coverage. Just ahead, sizing up the candidates second by second. You're telling us who you think dropped the ball, who scored some points, who was the biggest surprise, two Washington insiders. We'll also weigh in and find out who they think moved ahead of the pack in tonight's debate. Stay with us; much more of our special coverage right after this.



COOPER: How many people here took a private jet or a chartered jet to get here tonight? You're not sure? Yesterday, OK.


BLITZER: A moment over at the debate. Candidates also sighed. They rolled their eyes. They looked at their watches during the debate. What about tonight? Does body language tell us more than their words? Carol Costello was watching this part of the debate very closely.

Carol, what did you pick up?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, nothing so overt this time but some telling moments nonetheless.

Remember who these candidates were address, supposedly the young hip YouTube crowd, but look how the candidates were dressed. The men wore dark suits but Hillary Clinton wore a brightly colored jacket. And despite what John Edwards said towards the end, it looked much less intimidating and dare I say it, it looked much -- it looked feminine, you know, with all the comments that she was getting about being too much like a man. This jacket made her look more feminine.

Let's talk about body language. As it started, this debate the men especially seemed nervous. Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, an expert on body language, listen.


DR. JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: The male candidates interestingly are -- many of them except for Obama are tied to the podium. And this really represents the fact that many of them are viewing this podium as their safety zone.


COSTELLO: You see them. They're clutching the podium with their hands while Clinton and Obama had their hands on top of the lectern, much more comfortable.

John Edwards showed his nervousness, too, by putting his hands in his pockets at times. Dr. Dimitrius says he also use large gestures at times, especially when he addressed Clinton on women's issues. He seemed defensive. And she seemed very cool because she kept her upper body very still and her voice very even.

Obama, she said, had great eye contact with the audience. He kept his head up. Tone is important, too. He was positive but at times he seemed young in comparison to the others.

Chris Dodd kind of sounded like he was on the Senate floor. He didn't seem comfortable with the young audience.

Mike Gravel, he just sounded angry. He looked kind of like your kooky uncle at Thanksgiving. I must he just thought -- he was angry about everything it seemed.

The other observation Dr. Dimitrius noticed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rarely looked at one another, yet both addressed other candidates. They nodded at the other candidates' answers but they rarely nodded at one another's answers. And in short she said the candidate with the best body language, hands down, Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: And it's sort of unfair though, she's the only woman. And there's going to be a lot of commentary about the pink outfit she was wearing and certainly not much commentary about the dark suits that all the men were wearing.

COSTELLO: I'll tell you Dr. Dimitrius thought that was a great choice because it was fresh, it was vibrant, it was less intimidating. She really seemingly paid attention to who she was supposed to be.

BLITZER: And it was stunning as well, a pink outfit.

OK, thank you, Carol for that.

While Carol was watching the body language of these eight presidential candidates our senior political analyst Bill Schneider was listening carefully to all the words. Bill is joining us now from Charleston.

Bill, when it comes to Senators Clinton and Obama, one candidate talked about the past, the other one tried to talk about the future.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. We looked at how many times the candidates talked about the future, what they would do. The two candidates at the top of that list, Bill Richardson interestingly. He tried to say he was different from the other candidates, what he would do in Iraq. And Barack Obama was positioning himself as the candidate of change, something new, what about the past, what I have done. There at the top of the list came Hillary Clinton. She tried to establish that she has a long record in her own right, that she herself is qualified. It's not just her name. And, of course, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd do have long records in the Senate. Now another issue, which candidates attacked each other. Actually not many did. It wasn't that kind of a debate because citizens were asking the questions. They didn't invite attacks. At the top of the list Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, three of the less prominent candidates engaged in the attacks.

What about compliments to their fellow candidates. This list is interesting. Who were the most complimentary? Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama. What do they have in common? They're all the front-runners. They're all doing well. They can afford to be generous. There's no reason to attack their fellow candidates because they're all doing well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, thank you very much. Bill Schneider on the scene for us.

We have much more coverage of this historic debate. Did candidate Chris Dodd score points in the debate? The Connecticut senator standing by to join us. We'll ask him how he thinks he did and what he thought of the others. And Jack Cafferty wants to know was Dennis Kucinich right when he said all the Democrats have to do to end the war is stop funding it. Much more of our coverage right after this.



MIKE GRAVEL, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. You can you now, John, go to Hanoi and get a Baskin Robbins ice cream cone. That's what you can do. And now we have most-favored nations trade. What did all these people die for? What are they dying for right now in Iraq every single day?


BLITZER: Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd has been caught in the pack. Did he break out after tonight's debate? Senator Dodd is joining us right now.

A quick reaction to Mike Gravel there. Did these soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen in Iraq die in vain?

SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, not at all. Policies fail. Servicemen and women have never failed in my view. I see my troops all the time in Connecticut. They've been to Baghdad a couple of times. Obviously, this policy needs to change. But the suggestion that our servicemen and women have died in vain is offensive to me.

And we need to get out of Iraq. I've been advocating that for a long time. I think tonight there were clear differences on that stage. It's one thing to talk about these things; it's another thing to demonstrate clearly our efforts...

BLITZER: Quick question though... DODD: ...dubious success.

BLITZER: Do you agree with Joe Biden, it would take at least a year to get all those troops out of Iraq? You can't do it more quickly?

DODD: I disagree with Joe. All our information is seven or eight months, doing it intelligently. That's what we're advocated. It can be done in those time frames. Those numbers were not chosen out of thin air.

Jack Reed was a West Point grad, an advocate of a bill that has basically that same timeframe would tell you if you're serious about this and realize how important it is to get us out of that civil war and make us more secure and more safe, then certainly the seven or eight month we talked about is an adequate time to do is safely and securely for our troops.

BLITZER: Senator Dodd, thanks very much.

Senator Dodd of Connecticut joining us.

Some voters in the state critically important in the process feel Senator Barack Obama did the best. Let's go back to Mary Snow. She's in Manchester, New Hampshire, the site of the first primary. Give us the sense of the undecided voters you're with at that diner, Mary.

SNOW: Well, Wolf, we have independent and undecided Democrats. And it was a surprise here tonight because they anticipated Senator Hillary Clinton to perform the best. But the surprise was that Senator Barack Obama came out on top. And we saw that he was a favorable reading. Everybody here had dial meters. Take a look at one point when he was talking about lobbyists, how this fared well.


OBAMA: Drug insurance companies are spending $1 billion over the last decade on lobbying. And that's why we've got to have a president who is willing to fight to make sure that they don't have veto powers.


SNOW: Now Wendy Crofts thought that Barack Obama performed best tonight. Why -- you thought Hillary Clinton did well, but why did you think he performed best?

WENDY CROFTS, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I thought he represented the best hope for change that our country desperately needs. And I really like the fact that he spoke in some depth and with knowledge about issues.

SNOW: OK, all right. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Mary, thank you. Let's check the dial meters out in Nevada where there will be a Democratic caucus right after Iowa. Ted Rowlands is on the scene for us there.

Give us a sense of the undecided Democrats who you met with.

ROWLANDS: Well, a lot of them say they're still undecided after tonight, Wolf. But a little different story out there with our group of 24. Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton both in front in terms of who they think did the best tonight.

We asked them their opinion before and after. Of all the candidates, Hillary Clinton picked up 13 points. Others that gained, Biden, and Obama, and Richardson, gravel and Kucinich just lost a little bit. The biggest reaction from their meters came when Governor Richardson was asked about no child left behind.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would scrap it. It doesn't work. It is a law. It is not just an unfunded mandate but the one size fits all doesn't work. It doesn't emphasize teacher training. It doesn't emphasize disabled kids. It doesn't -- English learning kids.


ROWLANDS: And that number kept going up as Richardson continued his answer. And it stayed the highest. That's the highest we saw out of this group. Basically a lot of these folks say they want to see more and a lot still undecided -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ted, thank you very much.

Still ahead, Congressman Dennis Kucinich says all the Democrats have to do to stop the war is stop funding it. Is he right? You tell us. Jack Cafferty with your e-mails right after this.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack Cafferty in New York -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Is Congressman Dennis Kucinich right when he says all the Democrats have to do to stop the war is stop funding it?

Lis in Pelham, New York: "Everyone says that if the Democrats cut off funding for the war, they hurt our troops. Dennis is the one who honestly states we'd be saving our troops by bringing them home."

Norm writes from Cherry Hills Village, Colorado: "I felt that the Democrats missed the boat when Bush vetoed the first funding bill. As far as I'm concerned, the right answer to that veto was to inform the president that this was the only funding bill he was going to get and then proceed on to other business. Bush doesn't negotiate. He doesn't know how. The Democrats could have responded in kind. Nancy Pelosi could have blocked any attempts to putting another funding bill to a vote. She failed. The Democrats failed. I am disgusted with them."

K. writes from Brooklyn: "If we cut off the money, Bush would (a) find the money in a 'black' budget and (b) attack the Democrats as treasonous swine. And they wouldn't know what to do in response."

Scott writes, "End the war! I was not impressed by the so-called 'top-tier' candidates. They came off as being invertebrate and insincere, particularly on the gay marriage and the war."

Steve in Tallahassee: "Mr. Kucinich doesn't have a clue. Democrats are supposed to be about helping people, all people, but they want to abandon the work in Iraq before it's finished. We're there now, right or wrong, let's finish it. If the Democrats would fight as hard to finish this as they have to abandon it, it would probably be over by now."

Elijah writes: "Withdrawing from Iraq is one thing, but simply turning off the money will cause chaos and millions of dollars worth of hardware and infrastructure in Iraq would have to be left behind and our troops would suffer."

And Monica writes from Albuquerque, New Mexico: "Kucinich is dead-on. The Democrats have failed America" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.

And stay with CNN throughout this special evening. Our debate moderator Anderson Cooper is standing by to pick up our coverage. I'll see you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow starting 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. A special edition of "AC 360" begins right now.