By Samantha Hayes, on Hollywood Blvd. outside the Kodak Theater
There is no need for screen writers in this show. The Presidential Election of 2008 is weaving its own storyline with no lack of drama, suspense, conflict, and contrast.
It's the contrast that was so obvious to me after reporting on the Republican Debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday night. Against the serene backdrop of Simi Valley, GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and John McCain didn't try to hide their aggravation with each other's campaigns and positions on the issues.
Transition to Hollywood Thursday night where the opposite seemed to happen.
Hours before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took the stage at the Kodak Theater, hundreds of people gathered outside, enthusiastically chanting in three syllables, "O-BA-MA" or "HILL-A-RY." This is all I could hear when I walked from my hotel to the theater to get my credentials before the debate. But this crowd wasn't purely political! After all, we were on Hollywood Boulevard, the Walk of Fame.
I saw Spider-Man. He passed Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean," who was posing for a snap shot with an Obama supporter. The Incredible Hulk was also outside the theater, walking around in all his big, green glory. Next to the stand where a group of people were selling "Hillary" buttons and T-shirts, stood Sponge Bob Square Pants. Maybe Sponge Bob has concerns about health care, too!
So this was the backdrop to our live reporting leading up to the debate. Colorful characters, chanting campaign supporters, and the soundtrack of "Hannah Montana" piped through the El Capitan theater across the street.
While cheers for the candidates transitioned into an all out anti-war rally, inside the Kodak Theater the atmosphere was...peaceful.
For the most part, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talked more about what united than divided them. They discussed, in detail, their policies on health care and immigration reform and politely countered one another on their differences. Compared to the warring words of their South Carolina match up, this debate was strikingly civil.
Now they wait for the real battle to be decided by the voters, on February 5th, Super Tuesday. In a campaign of twists and turns for both parties, there may still be surprises around the corner.