Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 | 2 a.m.
During Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas, just four days before Nevada’s presidential nominating caucus, voters in Nevada and the nation got a better sense of the mettle of the top three candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
The issues that dominated the debate were the Iraq war, those involving minorities and the nation’s sluggish economy, which recent polls have shown Democratic voters care most about.
Clinton, coming off a convincing win in the New Hampshire primary last week, had a commanding grasp of the issues that top the lists of everyday Americans and demonstrated she is more than ready to be president.
A defining moment of the debate was when moderator Tim Russert asked Obama about a comment he’d made to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The newspaper reported that Obama acknowledged he doesn’t have the experience to run a bureaucracy, but he said voters weren’t looking for a chief operating officer.
Clinton responded that there was a difference between the two candidates on this issue, and that you have to be able to manage and run a bureaucracy and hold it accountable every day.
Indeed, President Bush’s hands-off style of governing, which can be seen notably in the fiascoes in the handling of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, is something the United States can ill afford again. We need proven leadership at the helm, not someone who will need on-the-job training.
On the federal issue that most directly affects Nevada the government’s efforts to bury the nation’s high-level nuclear waste just 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas all three candidates said if elected president they would stop the nuclear waste dump.
But it’s time for a reality check. It is critical to note that Edwards, when he was a senator, voted in favor of Bush’s nuclear dump plan and Obama was not yet in the Senate when the vote was taken. Of the three candidates, Clinton, who represents a state with nuclear power plants that want to get rid of their waste, showed real courage, real leadership and real solidarity with Nevada in voting against Bush’s Yucca Mountain plan.
All in all, this was an engaging and substantive debate, one in which Clinton demonstrated why she is the best-prepared, best-qualified Democratic candidate.