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TCU 360

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TCU 360

Health care key topic in Austin Democratic debate

Health care key topic in Austin Democratic debate

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sought to score points with voters in one of the primary’s key states Thursday at the CNN/Univision Democratic debate at the Recreational Sports Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In what was perhaps the most crucial debate to date in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton and Obama talked about an array of topics ranging from Cuban relations post-Fidel Castro to Obama’s use of specific rhetoric in some of his speeches.

Both senators agreed on the importance of opening the U.S. to diplomatic negotiations with Cuba and every other country. Both were critical of the Bush administration’s way of dealing with foreign diplomacy and say there is damage that needs mending.

But health care was the major issue of the night despite moderator Campbell Brown’s attempts to move the discussion elsewhere.

Under Clinton’s health care plan, everyone would be required to purchase insurance. She emphasized that Obama’s plan would not work because purchasing insurance is not mandatory for everyone.

Obama instead focused on providing cheaper health insurance.

“My belief is the reason that people don’t have it is not because they don’t want it but because they can’t afford it. And so I emphasize reducing costs,” the Illinois senator said.

Although the candidates agreed on some policies, accusations flew at times.

Clinton made remarks about Obama’s accomplishments as a senator, later accusing him of committing plagiarism.

“Lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox,” Clinton said.

Obama defended himself, saying politics has gone into “silly season” where everyone goes after petty issues. He said one of his co-chairs gave him the line in his speech and encouraged him to use it.

Clinton, who emphasized her experience and accomplishments as a leader, has lost 11 straight primaries and caucuses to Obama, pushing him ahead of the New York senator in the delegate count, 1,336 to 1,251.

However, with 228 delegates up for grabs, Texas is seen as a major prize for the Democrats.

“A lot of people thought Hillary Clinton would come out swinging but she did not,” said Adam Schiffer, assistant political science professor. “Obama may have had a weak start, but I think he was the winner tonight.”

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