3:23 pm MDT: Yup, I'll be trying this live blog thing again in about an hour and a half. The Democratic candidates are in Chicago for the AFL-CIO (or as Archie Bunker used to call it, the UFO-CIA) forum, which starts at 5 p.m. Mountain Time. But no need to watch the TV when you can follow all the fun right here.
I said that the Dem candidates are all there. That's not quite true. Turns out Mike Gravel wasn't invited. He has some opinions on that, which you can find HERE.
One good thing about most the debates so far this cycle is that the various sponsors have done away with those tedious opening statements by candidates. Most of them always sounded canned. But if you miss them, MSNBC has canned some for you . The pre-recorded opening statements by the participating candidates are HERE.
5:02 pm MDT: It's starting. Richardson was first to be introduced. I wonder if it'll be another 20 minutes before he gets a question.
5:05 pm MDT: AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says "Think of this as a big job interview." Could that be a good omen for our gov?
5:09 pm MDT: This debate is OUTSIDE -- Soldier Field in Chicago. Both Hillary and Obama have pandered to Bears fans.
5:11 pm MDT: No question for Bill yet. I wonder if he'll say he's a fan of both the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.
5:14 pm MDT: Edwards just gave an indirect slap at Hillary over accepting lobbyist money. Looks like Richardson will once again be the last to get a question.
5:17 pm MDT: Kucinich gets big applause when he says to get out of NAFTA and WTO.
5:18 pm MDT: Richardson asked about selling toll roads to private companies. "No, privatization is not the answer here." He gets a big hand when he says he'll be proud to take union financial support. Calls for investing in power grids and highways. Talks about bringing "new infrastructure."
5:23 pm MDT: Scrap NAFTA? Richardson says from now on no agreements with countries that have child labor and don't allow collective bargaining. He also says on his first day he'll fire all the union-busting lawyers in the government. I thought that was the day he's ending the war in Iraq. Busy day.
5:29 pm MDT: Hillary says she's noticed other candidates are "using my name." She's not here to attack Democrats, she said. She gets big reaction when she says she's stood up for 15 years to the right-wing attack machine and come out stronger.
5:31 MDT: Richardson says China is a 'strategic competitor" and says we should pressure China to get better on human rights and to do something about Darfur.
5:33 pm MDT: The Dems seem to hate China nearly as much as the GOP hates the Mexicans.
5:34 pm MDT: MSNBC is doing commercials?
5:37 pm MDT: Richardson is asked what if Al Qaeda takes over Iraq after we withdraw. He insists the real peacekeeping can begin after the withdrawal.
5:41 pm MDT: Biden slaps Obama saying those of us who want to invade Pakistan will end up sending our troops back to Iraq.
5:49 pm MDT: Obama says it's "amusing" that some of those who voted for the war are now criticizing him for wanting to be on the "right battlefield" in the war on terror.
5:50 pm MDT: Hillary reminds everyone that Pakistan has nukes.
5:53 pm MDT: Good emotional 3-way debate between Obama, Hillary and Dodd on Pakistan/Iraq issues. Interrupted for another commercial. Did Lincoln Douglas debates have commercials?
5:55 pm MDT: The widow of a West Virginia miner killed last year gets to ask the first question. Of course it's about mining safety. Biden gives a short answer but goes back to a Pakistan question. Gets booed.
6:01 pm MDT: Richardson gets question from Iraq vet who came home to find his factory closed and job gone. He says he was just in Newton, Iowa, the guy's hometown. Richardson promises he'll protect the pensions and then promises OSHA protection????? Also health benefits for vets. He plugs his "Hero's Health Card." Never answers the question about closing factories.
6:02 pm MDT: An emotional question from a guy who can't afford healthcare for his wife. The crowd, including the questioner applaud Edwards for saying workers deserve the same benefits as the bosses and that he'd establish universal health care.
6:11 pm MDT: Edwards argues with Biden about how many picket lines he's walked. Edwards says lots.
6:13 pm MDT: Edwards gets applause when he bashes scabs. How about goons and ginks and company finks?
6:16 pm MDT: I'm liking this debate better than others. Keith O is letting the candidates actually scrap with each other. And the union members have are asking good hard-edged questions, many based on hard living. Beats the hell out of snowmen and bad folksingers.
6:17 pm MDT: And the union audience is nice and rowdy. Another commercial.
6:20 pm MDT: The Lightning Round!: Richardson: Big applause: "My vice president would not be Dick Cheney." Any of the other candidates would make a good VP, he says.
6:24 pm MDT: The difference between trial lawyers and lobbyists: According to Edwards, lobbyists are paid to rig the rules against us. If trial lawyers gave money to jury, it would be called bribery, but when lobbyist give to politicians ...
6:27 pm MDT: Would Obama honor Barry Bonds at the White House? Sports should be something kids should look up to. Praises Hank Aaron. Dodges the question.
6:32 pm MDT: Richardson want to bring country together in a bi-partisan way. Heal the divisions of the Iraq war. The question was "Does it bother you the 2012 race will start right after you take office." For the record, Richardson said yes, it would bother him before he went into his "let's get together" rap.
6:33 pm MDT: Hillary says she's going to tell people to "bring your brooms" to Washington to "clean it up." Bring your brooms. Insert cheap witch joke.
6:35 pm MDT: Kucinich says he the Seabiscuit of this race. He told me the same thing in 2003.
6:36 pm MDT: That's it. Gotta write some stuff for the paper. I might come back later to fix some typos.
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