Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama squared off in a cordial but substantive debate tonight, their first one-on-one forum of the campaign, the AP reports. "One of us two will be the next president of the United States," said Obama, who later added that the nation needs a president who can inspire rather than just manage. Clinton emphasized the need for someone who can start on "day one." She said it took one Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and will take another to clean up after the second.
The two sparred over a range of issues at Hollywood's Kodak Theater. Clinton called her push for universal coverage the "passionate cause of her public service." Obama said their plans were fundamentally similar and emphasized that he had Ted Kennedy's backing. Clinton, asked about the need for change even though she's part of the Clinton-Bush political dynasties, said, "I want to be judged on my own merits." Obama deflected the suggestion that immigrants cause unemployment among urban African Americans. "I believe we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."