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Fierce TV debate resumed after seven-week break in Democratic presidential race
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15:23, April 17, 2008

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The face-to-face fierce TV debate between Democratic Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton resumed on Wednesday night days before their first primary since March 11.

Despite the tense debate aired by the ABC Channel in Pennsylvania whose Democratic primary is set on April 22, there was still some softer chemistry going on between the two candidates.

Asked to address Illinois Obama's electability in the November, New York Senator Clinton said "yes" three times and Obama also said he trusted Clinton in defeating John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.

During the rest of the 90-minute debate, the two collided strikingly on the social security issue, which concerns many working-class voters in Pennsylvania, with Obama supporting payroll taxes raise on higher-income individuals while Clinton opposing to that.

But they two agreed that forces should be used if Iran pursues nuclear weapons and uses them against Israel, a speculation that has been denied by Tehran.

"An attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation by the United States," said Clinton.

Clinton fired more on Obama's character rather than his policies, rebuking him over the incendiary sermons of his former black pastor and his attitude to working Americans.

Obama dodged his rival's attack by saying that Americans were not interested in such old style politics Clinton was playing with.

The 21st Democratic presidential candidates' TV debate was also taken as a stage to clarify rumors and amend mistakes.

Clinton apologized for the first time for her story of being through sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996 that was found false by media.

For his part, Obama said he mangled his description of the mood in economically struggling small towns by saying small-town residents were clinging to religion and guns in bitterness over their economic troubles, remarks inviting criticism from Clinton and McCain.

With no more than 10 contests left, Obama and Clinton are still caught in a neck-and-neck race for the party's presidential nominee.

The next primary in Pennsylvania that would yield 158 delegates is considered a must-win battle for Clinton, who is struggling to prove her momentum even though she has more than 100 delegates less than Obama.

However, a CNN poll released on Wednesday showed Obama's extended lead over Clinton from 3 percentage points in March to 9 now.

The "poll of polls" drew the conclusion after an analysis of the surveys conducted on April 7-15 by Gallup, ABC/The Washington Post, among others.


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