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History of Presidential Debates at Dartmouth

2007: Democratic Primary Debate

See more photos of the 2007 Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate at Dartmouth

Date: September 26, 2007

Candidates: Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.; former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska; U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio; Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson

Moderator: Tim Russert, NBC News

Broadcast Outlets: MSNBC and New England Cable News (NECN) both broadcast the two-hour debate and streamed it live online.

Location: Spaulding Auditorium in Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts.

This was the third of six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. Since independent voters made up 44 percent of the New Hampshire electorate in 2008, the Granite State became a decisive battleground for presidential hopefuls looking to gain momentum on the road to Super Tuesday. Among the topics debated were U.S. relations with Iran and how to end the war in Iraq, health care, homeland security, and Social Security.

  • Over 500 Dartmouth students participated in an online poll that viewed Hillary Clinton as the winner of the debate. Thirty-three percent viewed Clinton as the winner, with Obama in second at 25 percent, and Edwards third with 18 percent (source: Valley News, September 27, 2007).
  • A University of New Hampshire poll for CNN and WMUR-TV before the debate showed Clinton leading in New Hampshire at 43 percent, Obama at 20 percent, and Edwards at 12 percent. (source: The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2007)
  • "Rivals sling barbs at Clinton during a debate but fail to break out of the pack on issues such as Iraq and healthcare." –L.A. Times
  • The late moderator and Meet the Press host Tim Russert, who died in 2008, got into some sticky exchanges with Clinton during the debate. When asked if she felt it was good for the country to potentially have 28 years of Bush and Clinton administrations, Clinton said, "I'm running on my own." In response to a question about the acceptability of torture in certain situations, Russert said Clinton's response was in direct opposition to her husband's view. "He's not standing here right now," Mrs. Clinton said. "I'll talk to him later."
  • Obama attacked Clinton for her remark that she had led a "lonely fight" in her efforts to bring universal health care to the nation. "Part of the reason it was lonely, Hillary, was because you closed the door to a lot of potential allies in that process," said Obama.
  • The debate was held on the first day of fall term classes and the temperature was unusually high at 95 degrees.
  • The Dartmouth Green was divided into "free speech" zones where supporters of each candidate were given a section in which to rally and display signs.
  • Obama gave a speech to attendees of the Dartmouth student watch-party following the debate.
  • In August 2007, a little over a month before the debate, The New York Times caused a stir when it reported that there was a "mystery 'boy from Dartmouth' with whom Hillary Rodham spent a Saturday night when she was an undergraduate at Wellesley." That boy? Robert B. Reich '68, who later became President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor. Reich and Mrs. Clinton, both student body presidents, went on what Reich called a "presidential summit" date to see Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup. (On August 5, 2011, Reich spoke at Dartmouth about jobs and wages in the "Leading Voices in Politics and Policy" lecture series.)
  • A complete debate transcript of the debate is available online.

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Last updated: 10/09/11