I thought I would collect some reactions from others about last night's forum. The consensus is that Hillary Clinton did the best:
From David Kuo:
The overall "winner" was Sen. Clinton. Hands down. She was in total and complete control. Her people handed out a list of her faith-based accomplishments in the media box. She used some of the old Christian "code words" Republican candidates have long used to sprinkle their speeches - "witness" and "prayer warriors" and she talked about prayer and faith the same way most Christian I know talk about it. She talked about that struggle between prayers of great significance - for people who are sick, or people suffering - and prayers of great selfishness - to lose weight for instance. It was as if she was running not just for the nomination but already for the general election where she knows she will have a staggering amount of work to do among moderate and center right voters who equate "Clinton" with "scandal" and remember her disparaging remarks about stay-at-home moms and baking cookies.
Then there was her answer to the question about how she responded to President Clinton's infidelity. “I wouldn’t have gotten through it without my faith." She seemed a bit vulnerable, very human, very much a woman who struggled with what to do in a violated marriage. But most powerfully, she said that faith and her prayer warrior friends gave her the strength to do what seemed right to her regardless of what the world thought.
What a powerful statement. The world wanted her to leave him. It would be just. He deserved it. She would be free of him, free of his baggage, free of the accusations that she was just in it for the power. But no, she said last night at the forum. No, her faith lead her to stay.
As strong as Sen. Clinton was Sen. Obama was pondering. He has gravitas, he is smart, but last night he was boring. He gave some powerful answers about evil and about how important it was for a country to always examine itself to make sure it wasn't doing evil in pursuit of conquering evil. But there's not too much more to say.
Sen. Edwards talked a lot about Jesus. He talked about his personal faith and said pretty much the same things he said to me in the interview he gave to Beliefnet.
Where Edwards shown, however, was when it came to talking about poverty. Unique among the candidates, he spoke of his passion for the poor and his history working with and for the poor. It is a powerful and moving resume of help - from taking 700 college kids to help rebuild New Orleans to working with inner city youth programs to working with anti-poverty groups overseas. Fighting poverty, he said, was the his life's calling and there can be little doubt of that truth.
His only problem is that few seem to care about the passion for fighting poverty. Even at last night's forum, talk of fighting poverty hardly dominated the discussion. And that is too bad because if this faith movement on the left doesn't manifest itself in powerful action for the poor then what will it have gained?
Read it all.
From Aaron Krager:
Edwards started off the night looking comfortable. The biggest issue being addressed tonight was poverty… his core issue for his campaign. I thought he capitalized on the questions of poverty and Katrina quite well. He mentioned his humanitarian work and the urban work he did before elected office (had never heard it before, so it is good to know).
Senator Obama used nearly his whole time to address Rev. Wallis’ question about poverty and policy… something Obama has not been talking about nearly as much as John Edwards. He needed to dive into the question just as he did tonight. I think it was a smart move. It will be interesting to see what the pundits have to say about it though. This forum was his home turf, he received the loudest applause of anyone of them tonight. He has already spoken in front of many of Sojourner’s crowd last summer at the Call to Renewal event.
Hillary Clinton surprised me, although she should not have with the amount of experience she has. She talked candidly about her faith, especially when it came to questions about her marital problems and former President Bill Clinton’s affairs. Her talking about how she was raised not to wear faith on one’s sleeve, was a nice line.
Bottom line. This forum was ground breaking in that it is big time media, the mainstream media, actually talking about progressive faith instead of the typical conservative that dominate the television. It is a quality start to a movement of pushing further ideas in the faith agenda. Many people of faith care deeply about poverty, hunger, and many other issues. Christians do not just vote on abortion and gay marriage. This is a beginning point of demonstrating just that. That’s why we are here! To make our voice heard, to bring about justice, to lift up the oppressed, and to care for the poor.
Read it all.