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Democrats Have Venom In Their Voices

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

So much for the truce.

A week ago the Democratic presidential candidates held a debate. It was the TV version of Tylenol PM. Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya and fall asleep.

Last night wasn't like that. Early on the sparks started flying: Clinton versus Obama. Hide the children, Mary, this ain't gonna be pretty!

There was anger in their eyes and venom in their voices. Poison words like "Walmart" and "slum lord" pushed the limits of decorum right to the edge.

Did Hillary Clinton come off strong or too pushy?

Did Barack Obama look like a victim, or a valiant champion of his cause?

In America we're not accustomed to the kind of verbal contact we witnessed last night, and in a way, that's too bad. You can learn a lot in a fight -- who keeps their wits, who loses their cool, who is fast on their feet, who holds a grudge, who knows how to win and who knows when to shut up.

Either Clinton or Obama could very well be the first woman or African American to become president. There is a lot on the line, and it showed.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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