Dem Debate a Knockout or Draw?

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CBNNews.com -- AUSTIN, Texas - A good old fashioned showdown was held between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the University of Texas Thursday night.

For more on the Obama - Clinton debate, click play to watch CBN News Correspondent David Brody's report.  Also, be sure to listen for Gordon Robertson's comments at the end.

The tone of the debate was pleasant, but there were a couple of moments when gloves came off.

When Obama was asked about accusations from Clinton's campaign that he plagiarized portions of his speeches he responded by saying, "the notion that I had plagiarized from somebody who was one of my national co-chairs who gave me the line and suggested that I use it, I think, is silly, and you know, this is where we start getting into silly season."

Clinton quickly responded by saying that Obama represented change you "can Xerox."

The debate, broadcast in both Spanish and English at the University of Texas, spent a great deal of time agreeing on the similarities of their respective platforms. But they also found time to show marked differences in their approaches.

One area was on diplomatic relations with Cuba. Longtime dictator Fidel Castro recently stepped down. Both candidates were asked if they would now be willing to open dialogue with his brother Raul Castro or the new leader.

"As president, I would be ready to reach out and work with a new Cuban government, once it demonstrated that it truly was going to change that direction," said Clinton. "I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening, because I think it's important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction."

Obama took a different stance.

"We now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba after over half a century. I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation," he said. "It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda, and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time."

They also disagreed on how to achieve universal health care. Obama's plan aims to make health care more affordable. Clinton's plan wants to mandate health insure for everyone.

The debate ended with Sen. Clinton showing more emotion - much like she did before the New Hampshire primary when she became teary eyed.

The moderator asked both candidates to describe the moment in their life that tested them the most.

"Well, I think everybody here knows I've lived through some crises and some challenging moments in my life," Clinton said to applause and laughter. "The hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country. And I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted."

Texas and Ohio voters go to the polls on March 4.

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Robin Mazyck

Robin Mazyck

CBNNews.com

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