CNN’s Legal Analyst on Hillary: ‘This Debate Was Gladys Knight and the Pips’

Unlike their "American Morning" counterparts who liked most of the candidates, CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin and CNN contributor Roland Martin had clear favorites on who was the best Democrat at the CNN/YouTube.com debate. In the post-debate special on Monday night, host Wolf Blitzer asked Toobin about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's response to a YouTube video questioner who asked whether the candidates would meet with the leaders of rogue counties like Iran, Syria, and North Korea in their first year in office. Toobin gushed, "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." About twenty minutes later, Martin took issue with Toobin's comments, and argued that Obama did as well as Hillary in his answer.

The full transcript of the exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Toobin:

WOLF BLITZER: 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.

Roland Martin's full response to Toobin about twenty minutes later:

ROLAND MARTIN: 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 ,or the heads 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 not as if 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 part. I think what Edwards and Obama were saying is we have to engage in dialogue, which is what we haven't done.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center