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Hillary Clinton wants company at the L.A. debate

January 22, 2008 |  5:56 pm

It was going to be a key face-off under any circumstances, coming as it does five days before the heap of primaries on Feb. 5.

But now, the Jan. 31 Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles looms as a crucial rematch, after the sharp-edged exchanges between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at Monday's forum in South Carolina. And thanks to the munificence of the Clinton campaign, one lucky person (and a guest) can be part of the audience, seeing for themselves how much the two prime contenders for their party's nod have come to disdain one another.

Actually, munificence has nothing to do with it.

In the best tradition of find-any-way-to-raise a buck, the Clinton campaign is conducting a lottery. Those who contribute to her war chest before ...

midnight Saturday will have a chance to be selected to attend the debate as part of the Clinton contingent.

The pitch that went out today came directly from the candidate herself. And in it she provides a little personal insight.

"One of my favorite moments in any debate -- like the one we had last night -- is when I look out into the audience and make eye contact with someone I know. Sometimes it's a friend, or a family member. Often it is someone I just met who shared their story with me."

She's dangled the bait, now comes the hook: "Next Thursday, I want you to be that person. Would you come to an upcoming debate and be there for me in the audience?"

About that favorite moment point ... Clinton sure had us fooled. We could have sworn it would occur when Obama is left stammering by something she has said. But maybe that's also when she looks for a friendly face in the audience.

-- Don Frederick