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Liveblogging the Democratic Debate

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Live blogging the Democratic Debate

7:43 The spin is winding down and the media room is beginning to empty. Reporters are putting the finishing touches on their debate articles and the crew is beginning to clean up the bottles and box dinners provided. But the next six days until Super Tuesday will be anything but quiet. Commercials will continue to fill the airwaves, candidates will have events around Southern California and LAist will party as we watch the results. Thanks for tuning in and stay tuned to LAist for all your political coverage.

7:34 Now some of the Obama spinsters:

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Campaign adviser David Axelrod --

It was a productive 90 minutes. I'm not going to decide who won, that's for you guys to decide. But America saw somebody tonight whose ready to lead on Day One.

Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo --

It's not about experience, it's about making the right decisions. Senator Obama continues to make his record clear and pressed Senator Clinton to make her record clear.
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7:29 First some of the Hillary spinsters:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa --

It's not just about the debates, but about the issues. Americans aren't looking for a smack down and tonight, they got a civil discourse.

Speaker Fabian Nunez --

We want a person that will deliver on day on the goods and promises from the campaign. Hillary can do that and the Latinos say she has the experience to lead.
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Congressman Brad Sherman, on Wolf Blitzer grilling Hillary Clinton --

It would have been better if he zinged Obama once or twice.

7:20 Thanks for tuning into the debate and prepare for the spin! Representatives of each candidate are in the spin room now making the case for their respective candidate.

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6:45 Hillary was asked the spouse question, "How can you control your husband in the White House if you can't control him now?". While her answer was the same we have heard over and over ("We both have very passionate spouses), her reaction was gold. She laughed, but less like a general giddiness and more a howl that seemed to have reached all the way to the media room, where the room erupted into laughter at the obviously staged guffaw.

6:40 For the first time in the Democratic debate season this year, entertainment has entered the fray. While Obama stressed his opposition to censorship, he waded into tricky waters in chiding entertainment peeps to "keep in mind who they are marketing to." The applause was mixed as Rob Reiner smirked and shrugged.

6:10 In the ongoing debate between experience and enthusiasm that has defines so much of this Democratic race, Obama seems to be saying that his passionate following is more important than Clinton's experience. He's trying to convince the crowd here that his supporters are ready and willing to advance their own causes. But Clinton just delivered the zinger of the night. Asked how she could represent change as a Clinton, she said, "It took one Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and it might take another Clinton to clean up after the next Bush." The rousing applause lasted for a good minute as the debates stalled for the second of three breaks. Obama sat in his chair, penning his thoughts with no emotive facial response.

6:01 Is America a business? Both candidates took the softball question and hit homers. Hillary brought up Bush as the "MBA President" and Obama brought up Mitt Romney, who has extensive business background. On Bush, Clinton said, "Look where that has gotten us" and Obama, on Romney, said, "He hasn't received a very good return on his investment." Buh-zing! The deeply Democratic crowd lapped it up, as did some of the reporters here.

5:50 On immigration, Obama just accused Clinton of flopping on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He basically said, It's not your fault, it's confusing and the journalists here had a good laugh. Minutes the later, the TV cut out for about one second. It was enough time for these seasoned veterans to shout and moan. It was back on and everyone had a good laugh.

5:46 Inside the theater, hundreds are watching the debate and Obama supporters are loosening their ties as he sidesteps an allegation by Blitzer that the Illinois Senator said Clinton's immigration program "is not humane."

Outside the theater doors, spinsters from both candidates are waiting to turn a nickel into a dime. Elected officials who aligned themselves with certain candidates will be available for reporters to stress why Clinton or Obama is the best choice. But right now, the assistants of those reps are relaxing in front of a TV with signs from their bosses at their knees. It is the calm before the storm when the real fun starts.

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5:25 The interesting thing about being in a room with some the country's best politicos is that many of them are not even watching the debate on the provided big screens. In here, the laptop is king and the debate is background as the journalists pound out articles and commentary. Speaking of which, Hillary is talking about health care and doing so detailing her experience from her years in the White House. Crafty.

5:15 On health care, Obama gets a short burst of passionate applause as Hillary looked on with that plotting, you-are-right-where-I-want-you grin. He just mentioned his similarity to Edwards, the first of what will likely be many times from both sides as they continue to wrangle for his support voters.

5:08 We are off and Obama opens up with a fond farewell to John Edwards, conciliatory words for Hillary and optimism that his party will win the general election. Hillary brings out the laundry list of what's wrong with this country and stresses her readiness for the job. In the press room, the tiny springs popping up and down from the keyboards creates a low din of machinery that sounds like falling snow.

4:50 With the debate around the corner, and Louis Gossett Jr. and Rob Reiner in the audience, Wolf Blitzer is warming up the crowd inside the KODAK Theater. Contrary to his stone faced, on-air personality, Blitzer was loose, and sort of funny:

I've always wanted to say this...and the Oscar goes to. No, somebody will win an Oscar and somebody won't. Make sure you don't fall asleep tonight, because it would be very embarrassing if you have friends someplace in Kazakhstan. There are people watching all over the world. It's great that we have political news junkies in L.A., but its not like those political news junkies in Stockholm. We're showcasing Democracy for people all over the world.


He then fielded some questions, including: who formulated the questions (staff at CNN and Politico and the LA Times-the sponsors); What his favorite movie is (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and; where Anderson Cooper is.

Anderson was working last night, we're working tonight...and, thank you.

4:22 Obama is here. For pics from today, check below or at this Flickr page.

4:00 The debate is scheduled to go down in about an hour and the excitement is palpable. It's very lout outside, the line to get in is very long and most writers who are coming are here. CNN is going on about how important this election is. Indeed the implications are huge, but will peoples' vote on Tuesday hinge on who "wins" the debate tonight?

All photos by Jeremy Oberstein via flickrThe debate will be shown on CNN (something they won't let us forget with the ominous countdown clock that clicks away the seconds), so everyone can every sidestep, smile and pontification for themselves.

But the fun will continue behind the scenes, so check back during the debate for more updates.

UPDATE: Hillary is here, having just arrived underground and Obama is moments away, security said.

2:00 Inside the press room, reporters of from all mediums have their faces firmly implanted in their computers as Wolf Blitzer's monotoned intonation floats from the huge televisions throughout the place.

Outside KODAK, there is a war of chants between Obama supporters and the growing number of Hillary sign wavers. Presidential swag of all types and sizes, from small stickers and over-sized placards to spray painted Obama faces and hand written Hillary signs.

Waves of "Obama, Obama" wafted through the crowd. It shifted from low tide waves to tsunami sized shouts. Hillary supporters stood in the back, though some tried to mount a counter shout. Lance Disher, a Long Beach resident and Hillary supporter was not concerned that the Obama supporters seemed to drown out the Hillary chanters.

"It's fine because in the end, Hillary will be President," he said. "But this is great for the party. For the first time, there are two quality candidates."

The makeup of the Obama supporters was a mixed bag. There were young, white college kids; African Americans, Latinos and seniors. They shared only their passion.

The Hillary crowd was mostly older, or at least older than 35. They looked confident and well dressed (blazers and khakis).

But not everyone was there to support a candidate. A group called Make Global Warming a Priority did not have any candidate signs but tried to press their message amongst the Democratic contenders' masses.

Mayor Tony is here. About to be interviewed by Wolf Blitzer.

12:34 Back inside, the tables still remain mostly empty. That's not to say things aren't happening. A reporter from ABC News is yelling his report into a table mic. A Chinese reporter from San Francisco is hushing hers into a computer's internal mic and a KNX guy, who hasn't taken his Bluetooth off, looks bored. I talked with a journalist from Italian News, who said Italians are following this election very closely, hoping America doesn't elect another "question mark President."

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One vendor, Tony B. Conscious (above), sold shirts and CDs full of Obama's greatest hits, er, speeches. He said he was with Students for Obama and, after posing for a picture shouted, "Obama is destiny's child" and "A vote for Hillary is a vote for history."

Tony was louder than any of the other supporters, his shouts echoing through the halls of the KODAK Theater.

But it's still Hollywood and the campaign supporters competing for space with the sidewalk stars was a perfect picture of the two worlds that have collided here today. In this home of the Oscars, politics has taken center stage.

And on the streets, tourists, debaters and staffers began to fill the areas as lunch time neared. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is being interviewed at CNN's outside stage and helicopters are flying over head. Even with all the security, the mood seems rather calm. I joked with a couple Secret Service agents about the scheduling. "I have no idea," one said when asked about the schedule. "I leave at 1. I'm gone after that." We both had a laugh before I walked away, sort of nervously. Out of anyone, I felt like he would have known when the candidates were due to arrive.

11:45 If the measure of a campaign's success is its support before a debate, Obama would be the clear favorite. I counted at least 30 placard waving, sign holding, Obama chanting campaigners while no one from Hillary's camp was anywhere to be seen, yet. The Obama peeps included your run of the mill students, youngish staffers and street vendors, some who claimed to be working with the campaign and others just passionate about the Illinois Senator.

10:57: About a dozen tables with three big screen TVs on the 4th floor of the complex are pretty empty. Print, radio and online journalists from around the country and the world are slowly filling in. Reporters are scrambling to find seats, where white pieces of paper advertise their respective agency (NPR, Italian news, Air America, ABC, et cetera). Some are grumbling that they can't find their seats, others are complaining it took them more than five minutes to find the free Internet connection. Someone from the FBI just passed with a gun strapped to his leg, Lara Croft style.

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10:48: Hollywood Blvd. is shut down as news trucks from every major and local agency line the streets. Security is also a big facet of the day here. Hillary and Obama as potential Presidents, obviously command a lot of protection, but because Mrs. Clinton is a former First Lady, Secret Service protection is especially tight, if behind the scenes (and on top of buildings).

They are joined by friends from the FBI, CIA (I am told), LAPD (both normal patrol officers and the Bomb Squad) and, for the first time, TSA. As I checked in, the TSA agent told me this was the first debate they worked, though he would not tell me why. Private Kodak Theater security is also here, but their role is mostly perfunctory. "They don't really need me here," private security guard Arthur said. "All I have is this [badge]. What am I supposed to do with that?"

Welcome to the Kodak Theater from the beautiful Hollywood and Highland complex, home to designer shops, sidewalk stars and fully grown men dressed in tights.

Oh, and in less than six three one hour, the Democratic debate between the two remaining candidates: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton after John Edwards stepped aside yesterday.

Obama and Hillary should be arriving around 2 here and the debates are scheduled to get underway around 5. Until then, I will be updating LAist throughout the day on all things H&H until the action starts.

Clinton/Obama photo by Chris Carlson/AP