— From NBC's Chuck Todd
As I wrote about constantly during the live-blogging session, this format was awful. I understand what the organizers were trying to do but it didn't work. And that means it was hard to view this debate as having a real impact on this campaign. None of the candidates came into this debate with an intent on creating a contrast. If you twisted my arm, I guess I'd say Biden, Clinton and Obama stood out a bit. Gravel stands out, but for all the wrong reasons (and what was with the casual khakis). Richardson, once again, had some uneven moments; he's lucky these debates haven't impacted him much; he certainly didn't act like a first tier candidate tonight. Edwards was more robotic than he has been in the first two debates. It could be the format that contributed to it for him. Dodd actually seemed to be better with the 30-second limit than during the 1-minute portion.
BTW, does PBS really believe that Tavis Smiley is going to be able to get the Republican candidates to come to a debate? I just don't buy it. Then again, if Smiley and PBS promise to make the debate as long and tedious as this one came across, where it took a half hour to get to the second question, well, then maybe. After all, the Republicans will LOVE to do a debate that doesn't mention the word "Iraq," right? (Actually, I think Iraq was mentioned four times total, but I'll have to double check my TiVO.) Seriously, the Republican candidates aren't going to come to a debate if they think the moderator or questioners will attack them.