Illinois Senators Barack Obama: "I am proud that I opposed this war from the start."
Former Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards: "One of the things we desperately need in our next president is someone who can restore the trust bond between the American people and the president of the United States."
New York Senator Hillary Clinton: "If this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I'm president, I will."
Those are comments from the three frontrunning '08 Democratic Presidential Candidates in the first nationally televised debate between Democrats Thursday night.
The Democratic candidates duked it out almost 1,000 miles away, but their messages hit just as hard with Democrats gathered in Rockford.
"I'm kind of surprised how strong a few of the candidates came on. This Mike Gravel who I know nothing of has been very entertaining and right on point. Dennis Kucinich has really really got some significant points. But I support Hillary all the way," says Diann Helnore of the Boone County Democrats.
Local democrats gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Rockford to cheer on their favorite candidates during the debate. Many say the issue they're listening most closely to is what to do about the Iraq War.
"Senator Clinton did a good job answering that question and i wasn't sure how she'd handle that because initially she supported going into Iraq where most of the other candidates did not. But I think her answer was very good," says Rockford Democratic activist Dan Lewandowski.
Though it's still early in the game, local democrats say it's important to start rallying together.
"I think it's important to get people engaged in this. Having a favorite son candidate from Illinois obviously is also exciting people and i think we've just go to keep building on that," Greg Tuite, Chairman of the Winnebago County Democrats.
There are 527 days left for both parties to build momentum before the election.
Most of the people at Thursday night's event say they support Obama in '08. The other major issues up for debate included abortion and healthcare.
Besides the frontrunners, Obama, Clinton and Edwards, the other candidates debating Thursday night were New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Senator from Connecticut Chris Dodd, Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich, Senator from Delaware Joe Biden and former Senator from Alaska Mike Gravel. The ten republican candidates will debate next week.