Obama: Iowa, December 13, 2007
“It’s the kind of moment that you have in the shower several days later. You say, ‘I should have said that.’” That’s how Juan Williams of NPR described Obama’s great smackdown. But Obama delivered his comment right on the spot, in response to a question from Iowa Democratic debate moderator Carolyn Washburn of the Des Moines Register, who asked him how he can expect to change Washington when so many of his advisers were relics of the Clinton administration. “I want to hear that!” Clinton interrupted, laughing a little overenthusiastically. “Well, Hillary,” Obama shot back, mock-serious look on his face, “I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.” Andrew Sullivan wrote that it was “[o]ne of those split-second responses in which political authority is passed from one person to another.” William Kristol called it the “defining moment” of the Democratic campaign to date.
McCain: Florida, October 21, 2007
On topics ranging from the war to health care, McCain came out swinging in Florida. The senator even earned a standing ovation when he took on Hillary’s recent $1 million earmark for a Woodstock museum, saying “I wasn’t there. I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.” But it was Romney for whom McCain reserved most of his putdowns. After listening to the former governor methodically list his achievements in Massachusetts, McCain set his sights on his opponent’s spotty conservative history with what the Politico’s Jonathan Martin called “some of the toughest shots yet at Romney,” including this one: “You’ve spent the last year trying to fool people about your record—I don’t want you to start fooling them about mine.” Time’s Ana Marie Cox offered a typically snarky response to this: “I believe the technical term for that is ‘snap.’ McCain isn’t bringing it on, it has already been broughten.”