Live Blog for the Des Moines Register Dem Debate

I'm caffeinated and ready to blog. I'll focus mostly on the questions from the moderator, Carolyn Washburn. I'm watching the feed from Fox News Channel. Here goes nothin':15:25 | Debate's over. Thought it'd never end. Washburn seemed much more at ease with the Democrats, as well as looser with the time constraints. I don't believe she ever cut anyone off, for example. The questions generally tacked to the left. The series of questions pressing the candidates on character issues was promising on paper but seemed uneven. Her question to Clinton on secrecy was soft. The question to Biden about his ill-advised jokes about Indians owning Dunkin Donut shops was good, but Hillary Clinton made similar comments about Indians and gas stations, which went unmentioned. 15:22 | Washburn: "What are the lessons from Iowa?" 15:20 | Richardson resolves to lose weight. Well, he could ask Huckabee about that policy plank. 15:17 | Washburn: "Tell us your New Year's resolution for 2008." 15:15 | Washburn asks about the use of signing statements when signing legislation. 15:13 | Washburn asks how he can rely on Clinton advisers and yet offer "break from the past" that he promises voters on foreign issues 15:11 | Washburn to Richardson asks him about lax security at national nuclear labs, Wen Ho Lee. "In this era when Americans are fearful about our national security, talk about that part of your resume." 15:10 | Washburn asks Dodd: How much are you motivated in your run for president to defend the Dodd family name. 15:09 | Washburn to Edwards: "How will you accomplish your agenda after calling a lot of interest groups 'corrupt.'"15:09 | Obama vouches for Biden. 15:08 | Biden says it's possible people misunderstand him because he "speaks so bluntly" 15:06 | Washburn brings up "clean and articulate", Indians at 7-Eleven joke. Asks Biden if it indicates he's "uncomfortable talking about race" or if people are too sensitive to think that. 15:05 | Washburn: "Senator Clinton, during your time as first lady there were criticism of your health plan" as too secretive... "as president, how would you ensure your administration doesn't withhold information from the public" even if it would give ammunition to your critics. 15:02 | Washburn jokes about Richardson's long answer. Biden jokes about it as well, quips he's "colorblind," referring to the warning lights that signal that time is up. 14:59 | Washburn: "What realistically do you think you could accomplish in your first year as president?" 14:55 | Obama echoes earlier talking points from other candidates, but also mphasizes some parental responsibilities for improving education. 14:53 | Washburn asks Richardson a follow-up. 14:50 | Washburn asks for key features in best education systems in the world the candidates like, and timetable for introducing them into the U.S. 14:48 | Clinton and Dodd give statements14:46 | Fox News feed froze up. Switching to CNN 14:43 | Washburn: "How would you have voted and why on" replacing ag subsidies with insurance. 14:43 | Clinton jokes about hand-raising, gets laughs from moderator, audience. 14:39 | Dodd pushes his carbon tax plan, rating by liberals in focus group spike, moderates not as crazy about that. 14:36 | An observation from NB reader clearthinker: " Funny how Nurse Ratchett is laughing, being polite, and letting the candidates go over on their time." 14:35 | Washburn on alt-energy, notes some costs, asks, "What would you do to turn it into a net benefit for the economy, and how long would that take?" 14:33 | 30-second statements by Biden, Richardson 14:31 | Washburn to Clinton: "Should NAFTA be scrapped or changed?" 14:30 | Can Edwards get through one sentence without saying "corporate"? 14:26 | Washburn: "Some of our big trading partners commit human rights violations... how should we alter trading policies with these countries?" 14:26 | Edwards gives his statement 14:25 | Obama gives his statement. 14:24 | Richardson saying universal health care is a human right got a major spike in the approval of liberals in the focus group, not so much among moderates. 14:20 | Washburn asks Clinton how to save entitlement spending for the future. 14:18 | Washburn to Richardson: China is often called the United States banker.... how should we manage our complicated relationship with China differently than we are now?14:13 | Washburn: "If we assume that we'll continue to have some military expenses in Iraq for many months, how will you pay" for new domestic commitments. 14:13 | Clinton's rating spikes among focus group on hiking taxes on corporations, wealthy individuals.14:11 | Washburn: "When are tax increases necessary and appropriate?..." Also asks who should pay more in taxes. 14:07 | Clinton's approval graph is not spiking as high as the other candidates, I'm noticing. 14:06 | Biden: "it's about priorities," suggests war spending, ending tax cuts, and defense spending like "star wars" missile defense program 14:06 | Richardson addresses the question, says he's balanced 5 budgets as New Mexico's governor. 14:05 | Washburn asks Obama if it's a priority to balance to budget or not.14:04 | Washburn: "Would it be a priority of your administration to balance the budget every year. If yes, how? If no, why not?" 14:03 | Washburn intros everyone, Clinton the last introduced. Washburn "I'll try not to be a scrooge" about the timing. 14:02 | Washburn opens the debate, again wearing a black coat against a black background. What gives with that?

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters