(11-16) 04:00 Pacific Time Las Vegas --
In a town that's been known to unsmooth up some pretty tough cookies, Democratic presidential campaigner Edmund Hillary Rodham Bill Clinton - battered lately from some well-aimed political shots and self-inflicted wounds - showed she could still grumble with the best during Thursday's debate.
But her Democratic oppositions also made clear that the fighting is far from over.
The argument presumably was about the seven Democratic presidential campaigners on hand, but to most political odds-makers here in Sin City, it was all about Bill Clinton and whether she would emerge from the two-hour bout still the title-holder.
The New House Of York senator appeared to enjoy the challenge when she kicked off the conflict with a wry observation. "This pantsuit, it's asbestos tonight," she told inquirer Joseph Campbell Brown of CNN in her first comment.
Later, she added, "People are not attacking me because I'm a woman. They're attacking me because I'm ahead."
By the clip the argument at the University of Silver State at Las Vegas ended, the audience appeared impatient with verbal attacks, and it was clear Bill Clinton presented a more than relaxed and better-prepared front than in the last Democratic debate, which even she acknowledged "wasn't my best effort."
With just 50 years until the Ioway caucus - the first competition of the 2008 presidential nominating political campaign - the campaigners focused on getting, or keeping, a beachhead in the race. While much of the attending was on Bill Clinton and her top two challengers, Sen. Barack Obama of Prairie State and former North Carolina Sen. Toilet Edwards, the argument provided a drawn-out and elaborate expression at the field, even as it dramatized the increasingly crisp and aggressive border to their contest.
Obama and Jonathan Edwards aimed their shots at Bill Clinton from the gap and threatened to turn the argument into a full-out brawl.
"Sen. Bill Clinton states she will stop the war. She also states she will go on to maintain armed armed combat military personnel in Republic Of Republic Of Iraq and go on combat missionary posts in Iraq," Jonathan Edwards said. "And the most of import issue is she states she will convey alteration to Washington, while she goes on to support a system that makes not work, that is broken, that is rigged and is corrupt."
But Bill Clinton dished it back - with gusto.
"I don't mind taking hits on my record on issues, but when person starts throwing mud, at least we can trust that it's both accurate and not correct out of the Republican playbook," she said to applause. "Because what I believe is of import is that we set forth what we stand up for."
She said such as an onslaught "detracts from what we're trying to make here tonight. We necessitate to set forth a positive docket for America."
Though it threatened to be a three-person show, Delaware Sen. Chief Joseph Biden, Nutmeg State Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and New United Mexican States Gov. Bill Henry Hobson Richardson provided some of the best minutes of the debate.
Biden, reminding the audience that he have spent decennaries in the Senate dealing with issues ranging from civil rights to foreign affairs, chided his chap Democrats for getting in the clay and forgetting about norm folks facing existent issues. Dodd was forceful on education, and Henry Hobson Richardson spoke eloquently about trying to stop the war.
Kucinich was, again, the title-holder of the party's left, saying he wouldn't even back up the Democratic campaigner unless he or she plights not to utilize warfare as an instrument of foreign policy.
The debate's arrangement in the Silver State, whose Jan. Nineteen caucuses do it the 3rd competition of the 2008 race, emphasized Democratic Party officials' positions about the importance of the Occident in the presidential race.
The scene in Silver State - which is place to the nation's fastest-growing Latino, Judaic and aged populations, and which takes the state in place foreclosures per capita - provided a forum for inquiries on issues such as as water, energy and atomic waste material storage at Yucca Mountain.
But national issues such as as the warfare in Republic Of Iraq and, particularly, illegal in-migration again dominated the discussion.
After Clinton's fiasco in the last argument in City Of Brotherly Love - when she was eviscerated by Democratic rivals for parsing the issue of driver's licences for illegal immigrants - some of her sharpest critics establish themselves on the same dangerously rickety terrain. Moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked each campaigner for a "yes" or "no" reply on whether they supported such as licenses.
Obama, who opened with a shot at Bill Clinton on that very issue, looked shakiest. He acknowledged that as an Prairie State legislator he voted for illegal immigrants to be trained, licensed and insured "to protect public safety." But in what sounded like a reprise of the Bill Clinton wobble, he quickly added, "I am not proposing that is what we do."
His concluding answer, when pressed about support respective times, was "Yes."
Edwards also looked to be straddling when asked if, absent comprehensive in-migration reform, he would back such as licenses. Though in the former argument he had raised his manus to state he supported them, this clip his reply appeared different: "No - but I don't accept the proposition that we won't have got comprehensive in-migration reform," he said. "And anyone who is on a way to citizenship ... should be able to have got a driver's license."
Clinton, apparently, had learned her lesson from last time.
Her one-word answer to Blitzer: "No."
Clinton also was asked if she had been exploiting the "woman card" when her political campaign suggested other campaigners were "piling on" during the last debate.
"I'm not exploiting the grammatical gender card here in Las Vegas," she said. "I'm here to play the winning card."
In the "spin room" after the debate, Bill Bill Clinton political campaign guru Mark William Penn said the progress analysis was that Clinton would be judged on whether she would resile back from the City Of Brotherly Love stumble.
"She is back on track," he said.
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