Friday, June 29, 2007

Democratic Presidential Debate at Howard University

Patresp The Democratic Forum, the first of the All American Presidential Forums on PBS hosted by Tavis Smiley, was held on June 28, 2007 at Howard University in Washington, DC. Sen. Joseph Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Christopher Dodd, former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama, and Gov. Bill Richardson, participated. The All American Presidential Forums mark the irst time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color has been represented in primetime.  Massachusetts Governor (and Harvard educated) Deval Patrick eloquently introduced the debate and candidates.  Questions to the candidates were posed by Tavis Smiley and journalists Michel Martin of National Public Radio, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. and USA Today and Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham.   Interestingly, one of the questioners, Ruben Navarette, later (here) criticized the debate (really the questioners) for failing to raise issues of special importance to Hispanics.

Given that immigration reform died earlier in the day, it seemed odd that immigration reform did not come up in the debate (especially since one of the questions involved the federal government's response to the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, with the flow of immigrants coming to the region to labor in the reconstruction efforts generating tension and controversy).  The candidates did extensively discuss critically important issues of racism and racial equality, including the Supreme Court's ruling earlier in the day limiting the consideration of race in public school assignments.  Of course, immigration raises important issues of race and class that warrant careful discussion and scrutiny.  Hopefully, in the coming months, we can have an in-depth discussion of immigration reform among all of the candidates.

For a transcript to the debate, click here.  Links to an audio and video of the debate, click hereSherrilyn Ifill (Maryland) was one of the official live bloggers for the debate.  Her entries can be found at .


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