Pennsylvania Debate Initial Thoughts (D)

Having just watched the Democratic debate in Philadelphia, I can confidently say that the Democratic horserace just became considerably more competitive. The major news story of the night is that Hillary Clinton proved what John Edwards has been attacking her on all along: her obfuscations, evasiveness, and "doubletalk."

In short...

Hillary Clinton's poll numbers should come crashing back down to earth. Expect her to spend a lot of time doing damage control in the near future because a huge hole was exposed in her armor and the other candidates and the media are going to drive a bus through it. She had better hope the word "doubletalk" doesn't stick. In the meantime, she better find a better answer to the illegal immigration question, and quick.

Barack Obama did not score any knockout punches tonight, but he did well enough to stave off being written off by the media. He started off weak, but gained steam as the debate progressed. He was better able to find an effective balance between drawing contrasts with Hillary Clinton without drawing the ire of voters for engaging in slash-and-burn politics. He did not turn in the strongest performance, but he at least showed that he knows how to fight while being a bit genteel in the process.

John Edwards turned in a considerably strong performance and is more of a threat to Barack Obama than Hillary Clinton simply because he is more direct and more forceful in his contrasts. He damaged Clinton while hurting Obama at the same time because he demonstrated the scrappiness that Obama's supporters wish he had.

Joe Biden could legitimately become the Clinton alternative for voters seeking experience. His views on Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan demonstrated a level of depth and seriousness that has not been shown by any other candidate of either party thus far. There shouldn't be anymore talk about him becoming her Secretary of State.

Bill Richardson has gone from the most attractive second tier candidate to the least attractive over the course of these debates. Expect him to have to bat down stories about shooting for a cabinet position in a Clinton White House from here on out. His already slim chances of winning the nomination took a major hit tonight.

Chris Dodd has arrived, and I think Democrats like what they see.

Dennis Kucinich offers more in these debates than Mike Gravel, but look for him to be the next candidate to be dropped from the list of participants despite the fact that he has a clear campaign platform. Unfortunately, it's never a good sign when your most memorable line is that you saw a UFO. Obviously, that question from the moderators was not really fair, but most voters will only remember what Kucinich said.

This race just got a whole lot more interesting.

A more detailed analysis will follow shortly.

2 comment(s):

Silence Dogood said...

As a Dodd supporter I was pleased with his performance in the debate and think this was one of his stronger showings (it was not all about a different performance though, questions and other factors can play a big role when you have 4 or more people on stage). I personally liked seeing Hillary take a good hit, and I have to admit I didn't expect Edwards to be the one to do it, but in brief hindsight, I realize it does make the most logical sense as he has the stature to do it being 3rd in most polls, but has not done so well, or rather well enough, that he needed to be "playing it safe." I hope you do a more in depth analysis of this debate if you get time.

Reginald Harrison Williams said...

I think Hilary is in trouble.

The more I hear her--and about her--the more I'm taken aback by her involuntary, stealth-like smugness.

"Hey, fellow candidates, I'm the frontrunner. Deal with it."

I don't find that to be too attractive.

I think Edwards touched on something about Clinton that I have been uneasy about since the beginning: her move toward the center and how "republican" some of her policy alliances have been.

I don't know...sounds like she has opened herself up to a flip-flopping label that the GOP can exploit.

Richardson, Biden, Obama, and Edwards, Clinton, Dodd, and Kucinch would be my chronological choices for the "Donkey" party's ticket.

Who knows? I'm so unhappy with all of these would-be candidates that I might vote libertarian.

(typing out a petition to get the 7-10's author to run for a local office)


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