Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded barbs over campaign tactics and NAFTA -- an issue central to many Ohio voters -- in Tuesday night's debate. On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain highlighted the policy differences between himself and his Democratic rivals.
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Ray Suarez reports the latest on the presidential campaign.
While political junkies far beyond Ohio tuned in to last night's Democratic debate in Cleveland, Republican front-runner John McCain, campaigning in Tyler, Texas, made a point of saying he didn't.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: And, by the way, I am unembarrassed to tell you — I'm not embarrassed to tell you that I did not watch the Democrat debate last night.
But I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if al-Qaida came back to Iraq after he withdraws, after the American troops are withdrawn, then he would send military troops back if al-Qaida established a base in Iraq.
I have some news: al-Qaida is in Iraq, al-Qaida — it's called al-Qaida in Iraq. And, my friends, they wouldn't — if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base. They wouldn't be establishing a base. They'd be taking a country.
And I'm not going to allow that to happen, my friends. I will not surrender. I will not surrender to al-Qaida.
Rallying supporters at Ohio State University in Columbus, Barack Obama responded almost immediately.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying, "Well, let me give you some news, Barack. Al-Qaida is in Iraq," like I wasn't reading the papers, like I didn't know what was going on out there.
Well, first of all, I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq, and that's why I've said we should continue to strike al-Qaida targets.
But I have some news for John McCain. And that is that there was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton made her pitch to voters in Zanesville, Ohio, ahead of next Tuesday's contest.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: So it's our chance now to seize the 21st century. I am absolutely convinced that our best days can be ahead for America, that all of the concerns we have, we can handle them. But we're going to have to be serious about how we do it.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, Host, "NBC Nightly News": Thanks to our candidates for being here on a snowy night in the great city of Cleveland, Ohio.