While Barack Obama and John Edwards were cast as agents of change following their one-two finish in the Iowa caucuses Thursday, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson are both saying that change cannot be made without experience.
With the tag-teaming of Sen. Clinton by Obama and Edwards was obvious during the first part of the debate, it was Richardson, not Sen. Clinton, who made the best argument for experience (and it is Richardson, not by coincidence, who has the most experience). Richardson also got off the best one-liner, so far, after hearing a row between Edwards, Obama, and Mrs. Clinton, he said he had been in crisis negotiations that had been friendlier.
On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton needs a strong performance tonight to have a chance of winning New Hampshire, and she has to walk a tightrope in distinguishing her views from Obama and Edwards without seeming shrill or negative. So far, she has managed to do so, and after a weak start, has been improving throughout the debate.
Edwards has to make the case that he, not Obama, has the most effective plan to bring about change, and so far he has not been able to do so, though he had a strong performance.
Obama has not had his best debate, but he has done nothing to harm himself so far, as far as I can tell.