Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hillary Fights Back

Here's the YouTube introduction to the Democrats' Las Vegas debate, with Hillary Clinton denouncing her opponents' mudslinging attacks (drawn from "the Republican playbook"):

Dan Balz over at the Washington Post argues Hillary's quieted talk of her pitiful debate performance last week in Philadelphia:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's strong performance in Thursday's Democratic debate here will blunt talk that she is on a downward slide and shift the focus to whether Sen. Barack Obama or former senator John Edwards can stop her march to the nomination, party strategists said Friday.

"In some ways the hiccup of two weeks ago, or the misstep of two weeks ago, was good for the Clinton campaign, in that it brought the Clinton campaign back to earth and back to reality," said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin, referring to her rocky outing in a debate in Philadelphia late last month. "It was a campaign that probably started looking to the general election a little too early, that didn't take the voters' questions about Hillary Clinton to heart enough."

Steve Elmendorf, who ran the presidential campaign in 2004 for then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, said Clinton's aggressiveness Thursday was a reminder to her rivals that she would not allow them to attack her indefinitely without responding. "She sent a very strong signal to the other candidates that there are no free shots here," he said. "She is ahead, and if they attack her, she'll hit back. Everybody has vulnerabilities."

Clinton (N.Y.) won the battle of Las Vegas by aggressively turning the tables on her rivals, challenging them where they are vulnerable and forcing them to answer questions they weren't ready to answer. She once again demonstrated her skill as a debater -- and Obama (Ill.) showed that he is not as strong in debates as he is in other forums.

The reactions from inside the Clinton and Obama campaigns signaled that between now and Iowa, there will be an intensifying debate over who should lead the party. Clinton advisers were ecstatic about the performance, which they felt successfully shifted the story line away from the candidate's earlier problems. Gone was talk about "piling on," which had marked their response to the Philadelphia debate, even though her rivals were as critical of her Thursday night as they had been earlier.
I don't think there's much doubt that Clinton's got the Democratic nomination pretty much wrapped up. Obama looked befuddled in Las Vegas. He wasn't even cerebral, just mostly clumsy and limp.

Note as well that the liberal blogosphere is up in arms over CNN's planted questions, especially "diamonds or pearls"?

Can't make anyone happy nowadays, I guess!