SPEAKERS: SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR
GIBSON: Good evening, and welcome. And it is fitting that we come to you tonight the National Constitutional Center, just up Independence Mall, from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall itself.
And we are here in Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Democratic
debate. The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination has gone on for some time, to say the least. This is sort of round 15 in a scheduled 10-rounder.
This debate comes after a long pause in the primary and caucus schedule. It's been five weeks since the last votes were cast, six weeks since last the candidates debated. Much has happened in those six weeks, and there is much to discuss.
Just to reintroduce and give due respect to the candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York...
... and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
ABC News is pleased to sponsor the debate, along with the National Constitutional Center. And while the candidates debate on stage, a lively debate will also be unfolding online on ABCNews.com and on Facebook.
We have time guidelines for answers tonight: 90 seconds to answer a question; 60 seconds for rebuttal. George and I are going to be very lenient about time, but not permissive.
I have actually two clocks in front of me tracking the total time that a candidate has spoken as the evening goes on. And if we find one speaking longer than the other, we will do our best to equalize time in the later stages of the evening.
I've asked the audience not to applaud during the debate. What's important is not the reaction of those in the Kimmel Theater, but the reaction of voters in Pennsylvania, who go to the polls next Tuesday, and people around the country.
So we're going to begin with opening statements. And we had a flip of the coin, and the brief opening statement first from Senator Obama.
OBAMA: Thank you very much, Charlie and George.
And thanks to all in the audience and who are out there.
You know, Senator Clinton and I have been running for 15 months now. We've been traveling across Pennsylvania for at least the last five weeks.
And everywhere I go, what I've been struck by is the core decency and generosity of the people of Pennsylvania and the American people.
But what I've also been struck by is the frustration.
I met a gentleman in Latrobe who had lost his job and was trying to figure out how he could find the gas money to travel to find a job. And that story, I think, is typical of what we're seeing all across the country.
People are frustrated, not only with jobs moving and incomes being flat, health care being too expensive, but also that special interests have come to dominate Washington, and they don't feel like they're being listened to.
I think this election offers us an opportunity to change that, to transform that frustration into something more hopeful, to bring about real change.
And I'm running for president to ensure that the American people are heard in the White House. That's my commitment, if the people of Pennsylvania vote for me and the people of America vote for me.
GIBSON: Senator Clinton?