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Clinton, Obama promise to end debate

Posted on 1/16/2008 2:10:00 PM

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both promised to end the acrimonious debate regarding race. In a televised debate, both accepted the other's consistent record regarding civil rights.

For some time now, both candidates have indulged in an exchange of comments perceived as sexist or racist. Clinton's supporters have complained about the sexist overtones in remarks aimed at her. Similarly, the Obama camp had issues regarding racial comments about his middle name Hussein having a Muslim association as well as the drug abuse story from his past. Their sparring has even spurred a national debate on what constitutes an acceptable form of a public verbal dual.

Both leaders explained the war of words on their supporters, who, they said, sometimes exacerbated the tension in their competition for presidential nomination. Obama referred to "supporters or staff who get overzealous. "They start saying things that I would not say,"  he said. "We both have exuberant and sometimes uncontrollable supporters," Clinton also acknowledged during the debate aired on MSNBC.

Clinton, Obama, and former Senator John Edwards participated in the debate in Las Vegas, even as Clinton won the Michigan presidential primary - held in violation of party rules.

Obama said, "not only in hindsight, but going forward," in response to a question about whether he regretted his campaign's pushing the issue of race.Clinton evaded a question on whether she would stop businessman Robert Johnson from participating in her campaign. Johnson, it may be remembered, had referred to Obama's drug use while as a young man during a public appearance. She did however admit that his comments were inappropriate.

Clinton was the only major candidate in the Michigan primary, which was an election only in name only. Her competition mainly came from the "uncommitted" line on the ballot. The results from around 25 percent of the state left her with 61 percent of the vote, with the uncommitted gaining about a third.

The debate took place days the caucuses in Nevada. While the Iowa caucuses saw Osama win the lead position, Clinton had subsequently made up by winning the New Hampshire primary. Reportedly, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich wished to have a seat in the debate, but following the Nevada Supreme Court ruling that MSNBC could legally debar him, it did.

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