CNN/YouTube Democratic Debate Tonight @7pm

Some preview via WaPo:

The Democratic presidential candidates will line a stage in Charleston, S.C., tonight for their first official debate.

And already, debate fatigue is setting in.

The Democratic contenders have taken part in three “unofficial” debates this year, on top of numerous other “forums” sponsored by various political constituencies. The schedule is only going to get more demanding: After tonight’s debate, sponsored by CNN and YouTube and the first of six sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, there will be a crush of events, culminating in one week in early August when unofficial debates are planned in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

At the end of a recent gathering in Detroit sponsored by the NAACP, former senator John Edwards (N.C.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) were overheard discussing their desire to limit the number of participants in the process, as well as the number of debates themselves.

The conversation, which the two candidates appeared to think was private but was caught on an open microphone, captured what strategists, particularly in the top campaigns, have been saying privately all year. Other candidates outside the top tier, particularly Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio), blasted the discussion as a slight.

“Everyone is afraid to say no,” said Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, who is backing Clinton but not working for the campaign.

“Some group is sponsoring it who is an important constituency, and they don’t want to get in trouble,” he said. “The staff all sit around and wring their hands and say, ‘We wish we weren’t doing all these.’ ”

The problem is not, Elmendorf said, “the debate itself.”

“It is the debate prep, it is the travel,” he said. “The problem with debates is you don’t control your fate or your schedule. If you’re a candidate, you want to be the one to decide when you go to Los Angeles or Miami. You don’t want to be told you have to be there.”

Perhaps Kucinich will make light of Hillary’s desire to stifle debate and rule the debate with an iron fist. Then it will be worth watching.

As always, following the debate we will have the entire video archived.

Update

2008 Central has a nice preview of tonight’s debate. Their prediction:

Prediction: ratings will be about the same as previous debates, and the format and answers in the debate will have the same effect on viewers as previous debates.

I concur.

Check out their full preview here.

Update

Heres is the entire video of the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate:

7/23/07 – CNN/YouTube Democratic Debate from South Carolina