Garance Franke-Ruta

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor at the Prospect. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She was a 2006 recipient of a fellowship at the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University.

Recent Articles

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION.

A pointed exchange between Obama and Clinton on the topic of Social Security leads to the second instance this evening of the audience booing or ooing one of Clinton's competitors for being critical of her. Obama makes the point that raising the payroll tax cap above the $97,000 mark is not going to be a "trillion dollar tax on middle-class families," as Clinton described it, because only six percent of Americans make over that amount. "This is not the middle class." He compares her rhetoric on Social Security to Romney or Giuliani (eliciting what sounds, to a TV viewer, like boos and whistles). Clinton explains why she supports a bipartisan commision approach, citing the 1983 commision as an example, and seems to be suggesting that this is a parochial New York stance because in her region of the country firefighters and school adminstrators would be affected. Is she making an argument from the New York cost of living? Unclear. The Obama campaign thinks this is a good moment for him,...

KUCINICH HAS A MINI-MOMENT.

During the "yes or no" question on support for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Obama stumbles further, giving a "Clintonesque" answer before saying, when pressed, "yes." The rest of the responses: Biden - no; Clinton - no; Edwards - no; Dodd - no. Dennis Kucinich has the best answer, telling Blitzer: "I take issue with your description of people being illegal immigratns....they're undocumented." There are no illegal human beings. "I take exception to the way you framed that question," he tells Blitzer. And then Bill Richardon tells me something I didn't know: He's already signed legislation giving undocumented immigrants licenses. "My answer is yes," he says. "I did it four years ago." His legislature sent him and bill and he signed it. This is why it's important for the moderators to spread the questions out, instead of focusing their fire on one candidate -- so the viewers can learn something and hear different perspectives. --Garance Franke-Ruta

SHE'S BACK.

"The will be no loud bells," CNN debate moderator Wolf Blitzer said, introducing the set-up. "No flashing lights." No flashing lights, that is, except the twinkling of Hillary Clinton 's eye. Clinton is back in business, and she's feeling fine. "This pantsuit is asbestos tonight," she joked, replendent in a trendy grey jacket and black shirt. "This has to be a big election. This is going to be one of the most important elections we've had in this country." Obama opens with a prefatory compliment then swings at his chief rival: "Senator Clinton is a capable person and she has run a terrific campaign...what the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions." With regard to Clinton and immigration question, it took her "two more weeks" after the last debate "until we could get her answer on what her position was." Clinton returns fire with detailed policy fire -- her forte. "I hear what Senator Obama is saying, and he talks a lot about stepping up and...

LIGHTNING ROUND.

It's all happening on The Strip : Can Clinton "turn up the heat" on her rivals or is she going to pull a John Kerry and wait too long to respond? This whole "above the fray thing" may look like good strategy when the opponent is Jonathan Tasini , but Barack Obama seems to have realized he's not fighting Alan Keyes any more, and Clinton won't keep her lead if she doesn't start to make some offensive moves. How much of an issue will Edwards make of the plants , and can Clinton successfully counter-frame him as someone running an online anti-Clinton marketing campaign, and not a serious race for the presidency? Will anyone ask Obama about the nearly 80 percent of votes he's missed since Sept.? Or ask Chris Dodd and Joe Biden about what kind of impact their chronic absences (they both run important committees) have had on the Senate's ability to conduct business? I've heard complaints about how the latter two's absences -- along with the intransigence of Joe Lieberman -- have turned Harry...

KOS & ROVE, SITTING IN... AN EDITORIAL MEETING?

The Trail has the scoop that the person Newsweek has selected to balance out Markos Moulitsas as a campaign 2008 commenter is.... Karl Rove . Yowza. If those two ever wind up in the same editorial meeting, I hope Newsweek will film it and play it for us online. People would pay to see that. --Garance Franke-Ruta

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