The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Dan Balz's Take

Clinton Provides an Opening in Debate

The Democratic front-runners at last night's debate in Philadelphia. (AP).

For months, Hillary Clinton successfully made the Democratic presidential race a test of who has the strength and experience to be president -- and watched her opponents struggle to keep pace. On Tuesday night, her rivals turned the tables on her, and for the first time in the campaign, Clinton could not pass the test.

Tuesday's debate in Philadelphia shifted the focus of the Democratic campaign from strength and experience to questions of trust and character. The result was the weakest performance Clinton has delivered in any debate this year and a rare instance in which her longer-term vulnerabilities were very much on display.

Whenever a front-runner stumbles, it's an important moment in a presidential campaign. That was all the more the case Tuesday because Clinton has so often dominated the debates with crisp, authoritative answers and a generally unflappable style. By the end of the two-hour engagement in Philadelphia, she looked and sounded as if she had had enough.

Whether Tuesday's debate turns out to be an aberrational moment or the beginning of something significant won't be known until later. Clinton's advisers believe the event was not nearly as bad for her politically as the initial reviews suggested. But her rivals clearly were surprised at what happened and see opportunities to continue to raise doubts among Democratic voters about whether she is clearly the best candidate for the general election.

Clinton was on the defensive from beginning to end on Tuesday, both from the moderators -- Brian Williams, the NBC anchor, and Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet The Press" -- and from her rivals. John Edwards was the most aggressive challenger to Clinton on Tuesday, but Barack Obama and Chris Dodd made telling points against her as well.

The storyline they sought to write was of an evasive front-runner who, for reasons of political calculation, caution or lack of candor, was unwilling to say what she really believes about everything from Social Security to the release of documents from her husband's administration to whether illegal immigrants should be eligible for drivers licenses.

At times she was typically strong in defending her positions, even if they run counter to the views of many Democratic voters. That was the case on Iran, where she explained her vote for a measure that her rivals said provided President Bush with a legislative rationale to go to war with the Iranians. At other times, however, she was defensive, evasive or both.

It all crystallized in the final minutes of the debate when Russert asked Clinton about a proposal by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses. "What Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform," she said.

When Dodd said he opposed the proposal, Clinton interjected, "Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do..."

Dodd had heard enough and interrupted her. "No, no, no. You said, you said 'yes,'" he said.

"No, I didn't, Chris," Clinton replied with a tone of exasperation.

Edwards quickly jumped in, accusing Clinton of trying to have it both ways. "This is a real issue for the country," he said. "I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them. Because what we've had for seven years is double-talk from Bush and from Cheney, and I think America deserves for us to be straight."

Obama said he couldn't tell whether Clinton was for or against the Spitzer proposal. "I do think that is important. One of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face."

This was not the first debate in which Clinton came under post-game criticism for refusing to answer questions. That's why what happened at the end of the debate was so telling. It helped tie a bow around the entire evening and allowed her opponents to leave feeling emboldened.

Clinton's campaign issued a memo Wednesday touting her as "one strong woman" and accusing her leading rivals of their own character flaws: Obama for caving to pressure to go negative; Edwards for being the leading attack dog in the Democratic race. "The sunny speeches and rosy rhetoric that once characterized their remarks has now been replaced by the kinds of jabs one typically sees from candidates desperate to gain traction in the polls," the memo said.

The Clinton team believes she can quickly clean up her muddy answer to the question of whether illegal immigrants should have drivers licenses and return the campaign to issues and attributes on which she has held the high ground. Wednesday's endorsement from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees helps change the subject, at least temporarily.

Clinton's advisers also believe Edwards, because he was so aggressive, risks turning off voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. They believe even more strongly that the spectacle of a group of men attacking the lone female candidate on the stage represents, in their words, "the politics of pile-on."

There are certainly risks for Edwards and Obama in trying to raise doubts about Clinton, but there are similar risks for Clinton if the campaign turns to a steady inquiry about her candor and trustworthiness.

The most recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll, which showed her with a 30-point lead over Obama on who Democrats favor for the nomination, underscored those vulnerabilities. Six in 10 Democrats said she was the strongest leader among the top three candidates, but just 35 percent called her the most honest and trustworthy. Polls of all Americans show that not quite half describe her as honest.

Until Tuesday night, everything was going in Clinton's direction. Her lead appeared so commanding that the story coming into Philadelphia was whether Obama could do anything to change the trajectory of the race. The story going out was Clinton -- and not the story her campaign would have wanted written.

--Dan Balz

Posted at 2:00 PM ET on Oct 31, 2007  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: Clinton Makes a College Tour | Next: Democrats No Strangers to UFOs

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

This was the first moment of Hillary's downfall. Check out to see the pattern of what did Hillary in during her debates. It's quite interesting to see the effect of hubris.

Posted by: buffalofunkstudios | December 31, 2007 10:23 PM

Here are facts:
- Whatever people say about Hillary is backed by big interest groups,I know one sure thing is that president Clinton has always been the number one enemy of big gun, cigarettes, health care... industry & companies.

- Medias, I mean all of them, desperate go look for flaws from Hillary so it would make the presidential race more exciting. Now they're all happy.

I don't care if she is too clever to be labeled as dishonest, too smart to draw jealousy from others, too vague to make people lose patience.... the bottom line is she is strong, she can talk and think at the same time, and the republicans hate her so much that they just want her to be disappeared.

If you'd be patient a bit to ask yourself why they've been always afraid of her, it's simply because she has guts, smart and can really beat them.

Nobody, I say nobody from the democratic party beside Hillary can beat hardliner Guliani, or old McCain because those other democrats are so divisive and weak. They act and stand according to public polls e.g. Iraq, Iran, illegal immigration.. and guess what!, Hillary is the only one who dares go against the poll on some issues. She's moving toward the middle, something I want to see.

Imagine if every single democratic candidates all went toward far-left like Obama, Edward, and some major terrorist attacks in big cities happened... people would fear and again vote for hard-liner republicans.( like Bin Laden tape released 3 days before election day in 2004)

This time, Hillary has been so smart, so clever, full of guts, and ready to cover every political turnouts.

I will vote for her not because she's a woman, neither because she's a Clinton, nor that she is a democrat. I will vote for her because she's the republican's nightmare.

Kev, Huntington Beach

Posted by: kevinhanvu | November 2, 2007 1:01 AM

Regroup?? A new spin??? Exactly why I wrote the tune 'Hillaryous' on my 11 track CONSERVATIVE music CD. Oh i touched on Gore, Ward Churchill and the rest of the left who lack a center. Where? @

Posted by: Truscott1 | November 1, 2007 1:09 PM


Posted by: HRTDOC2 | November 1, 2007 9:31 AM

Clinton could have answered the license question better, but she is consistent in her assessment of the problem if you watch the interview with the Nashua Telegraph editorial board, it will offer some insight into her stand and her reasons for it. She never says she supports the licensing, but she understands the dilemma, but would prefer the umbrella of a nation policy fix on illegal immigration.
Everyone was gunning for her including the so called moderators. Political gotcha journalism is where America lives these days. Russert appeared to salivate at the verbal slaughter Clinton endured it was such a "fair and balanced" debate.I thought freedom of the press meant promoting the truth,not sabotaging it. Clinton needs to defend herself more than just the "politics of piling on", but she would get criticized for that too. She should point to the source video used for Russert's question it speaks to her views and confirms her position, one that I might add shows her depth of understanding about the issue.

Posted by: makim | November 1, 2007 8:45 AM

I am sick to death with the pseudo-feminist bs being spouted by Hillary supporters.

As a 56 year old woman, who has fought the long hard fight to get to even where we are now, I will tell you that we didn't do it to see a bright new future of the worst possible traits of male power-mongering dressed in heels and lipstick!

Hillary Clinton has hired the moral equivalent to Karl Rove to push an image that she is anything but a slick, conniving politician who will change positions with the wind in order to get what she wants. The Queen of Triangulation will tell you just enough to make every side think she's on their side, while never really giving you any idea what she will actually do once in office. And when she's called on it, she does the classic Rove maneuver of attacking the attacker so the focus is off her own pathetic record, or she gets her posse to wimper on her behalf that the men are beating up on the poor woman.

There isn't a woman alive that doesn't want to see a strong, intelligent woman as president. Most women, however, expect integrity to be a part of the candidate's character, and THIS woman does not fit the bill. This is not a role model I want for my daughter. This not a person I want leading my country.

Posted by: bklynsam | November 1, 2007 7:26 AM

The media is bored, Clinton intentionally screwed up so it would look like it's a race, and in the end, she will come back strong, witty, trustworthy, blah, blah, blah. A monkey could figure the MSM and the Clintons. Finally, George Bush and the next president, Hillary Rodham, are two peas in a pod when it comes to immigration.

Posted by: tcdif | November 1, 2007 5:01 AM

Just go to Youtube and type in Hillary.

Posted by: lwrzesin | November 1, 2007 1:06 AM

There is a big difference between a primary debate and a general election.
In the primary, you can have 6 candidates plus the moderator to pile on you (as happened to Senator Clinton last night). In the general, you have the other party candidate and possibly the moderator (if you are a democrat).

Mrs. Clinton stood up to 6 candidates and a moderator who fired at her. She has shown more than enough ability to beat a single republican in a debate.

Let's see. Obama beat Alan Keyes for senator. Do peolpe on this website understand how easy that was. Alan Keyes is one of the most extreme right wing loonies in the country. My golden retriever would be a more appealing candidate even to republicans than would Alan Keyes. Barack has not been tested, and it is too late to make an assessment whether he will be able to withstand the right wing attack machine in time for the general. There is too much at stake to take such a risk.

John Edwards was beaten by Cheney in his vice presidential debate (how could that happen?) Shall we go with Johnnie E and get wooped AGAIN?

Hillary will come out on top and exceed expectations as she has at every point (except last night) when the whole damn firing squad went after her; and the fact that she survived is a testament to her strength.

You think Obama or Edwards could have done better if they were on the receiving end of that?

Posted by: Rob6 | October 31, 2007 11:38 PM

At least Hilary is not walking around with a toy boy on her arm, unlike Rudy and the other fat old man with a young women sharing his bed.
Why do men love other men who have children who dislike there own Dad?.

Posted by: JillCalifornia | October 31, 2007 10:39 PM

I thought her response to the Rudy question of her executive experience was far worse.. 35 yrs of what exactly.. bill gave her the health care initiative in 93 as first lady and it failed miserably which the GOP parlayed into taking over congress in 94 .. i have no idea why obama and edwards are not hitting her on that issue.. this fact is a sitting duck for them to utilize against her.. at the very least, she should focus on her senate experience and work in the committees, and with the pentagon, etc. the federal national security experience is her strength plus the same people who voted rudy into office as mayor probably put her into her senate seat.. i have no doubt she could run a city like NY or govern Mass which is what she should be saying..and i am sure she could defeat both if they ran against her in ny city or mass as they are both blue-my final point, is that hilary is not bill and i think that is what dems who support her seem to be thinking in that she will perform to his high administrative level without all the baggage that he brought on that severly tarnished his reputation and legacy... this answer coupled with the other responses she struggled with and her overall demeanor as the debate wore on leads me to believe that this race just got more interesting.

Posted by: DIGIAN6242 | October 31, 2007 10:28 PM

The problem with Hillary is very simple: she has a negative personality that many people do not like.

This is a real problem.

Edwards and Obama have more appealing personalities and people-skills.

The republicans will have no trouble "piling on," and will show no mercy. You can't depend upon the mercy of strangers; especially republicans.

Politics is war. Asking that men not attack Hillary may work to a degree with democrats, but not ruthless republicans, who are masters of verbal and psychological abuse.

Posted by: river845 | October 31, 2007 10:17 PM

I think there's a lot of misogyny is these comments. Also, it seems like a lot of people have absorbed and now repeat a lot of the trash the Republicans spewed during the Clinton presidency. Compared to Bush, Clinton can be a GREAT president. She's so much more intelligent and wasn't born with a silver (coke) spoon in her mouth. I'm true blue, and will support the Democratic nominee whoever it turns out to be. I hate the bashing that's going on here.

Posted by: don6 | October 31, 2007 9:59 PM

Pile on Pile on Pile on... I am middle America. I speak to 200 people every 2 weeks doing my job. EVERYONE I know is voting for Hilary. We need a change and the biggest change is to get the testes out of the White house.

Posted by: mizty007 | October 31, 2007 9:42 PM

doesn't anyone recall that all these jokers are doing is ripping off what mike gravel was doing in every other debate, about four debates too late? i guess they read his last blog, which told them to do exactly what they did tonight.

imagine what the field would look like if they'd showed some courage months ago. but now they FINALLY get the hint, and it's probably too late.

where's the guts, everyone asks? they got pushed out of the debates by arbitrary rules set up at the last minute, b/c someone cut a little too close. senator gravel has been saying all these things about hillary since day one, but he got isolated, mocked, and finally excluded, so that the rest of the idiots could do their sad, soulless impressions of him. even under fire hillary still gets her way.

Posted by: foolchild0 | October 31, 2007 9:24 PM

For God's sake how many debates are Americans going to be subjected to. The elections are one year away. Debates in America means the press don't have to do any real work, they can be home for dinner while they ingnore Iraq, and the three million displaced Iraqi's living in tents or a life as refugees. Ignore the most expensive healthcare system in the world that covers the least amount of people. Ignore 1.5 million Palestinians being kept on American supported reservations.
Debates in America mean nothing except millions of dollars. Remember Bush who told the American people he was not a nation builder?. Remember Republicans who don't believe in taxes but have spent the last 7 yrs. snorting taxpayer money?.
Debates are unique to America, we all know they mean nothing except millions of dollars. Spare me the picture of another old man with his daughter or grandaughter wrapped around his arm. Spare me another man who dumped his wife and children on T.V.
Debates in America mean 0.

Posted by: JillCalifornia | October 31, 2007 9:14 PM

peterdc--"The press is bored and Dan Balz is showing just how bored he is with this column. I have just come from a luncheon attended by about 1000 women and they collectively thought Hillary did great and that the picture of six men all trying to bring down a woman was the story of the night.

But I guess Dan Balz can't see that story, either because he is a man or because he just doesn't like that story because it leaves him little to write about in the next eight weeks. Maybe we would all be better off for that."

Or perhaps it is just because he is not a male chauvinist like you?

Posted by: roo_P | October 31, 2007 9:11 PM

Be careful what you wish for far out lefties. If Obama wins the nomination he can not win because he can not rise to the occasion in a debate( at least not in the 2008 cycle). Any traction he gained last night was enabled by biased soft ball set ups from Russert. Edwards has run far left and can not win in the general. In attacking Hillary, far left dems are using the same arguments they used against Gore in 2000 when they voted for Nader or just did not vote or thought Bush was not that bad. Do y'all still think there was no difference between Gore and Bush?
Clinton is a centrist, but she is left of center. As a democrat you must be a centrist to win the presidency. JFK ran as a centrist, for those of you who bother to read history books, as did Carter, and Bill Clinton.
Hillary is running as a centrist and can win the general. With seven attack dogs coming at her last night (including the unprofessional Tim Russert), Clinton came out well. Hillary will also be able to make headway with moderate and independent voters in the general election as she did in upstate New York for senate which Obama and Edwards are unlikely to do. Russert will not, believe me, give soft ball questions to any democratic nominee to use against the Republican nominee. So Obama and Edwards will not be spoon fed to victory. Sad that the Pew poll came out TODAY showing a 53-41 for Clinton in the general over Giuliani. A lead she has built steadily over the year by converting moderate voters. That answers the Clinton electability point with an over 50% showing against the front running republican in a national poll.
I am a life long democrat; this country can not withsatand another Republican president. Start thinking with your heads. Hillary will move the country in the right direction in a pragmatic, methodical way. A vote for Obama or Edwards is a vote for the Republican candidate next November.
Don't fool yourselves into believing there is no difference between Clinton and all of the republicans. The 2000 mistake can not be repeated.

Posted by: Rob6 | October 31, 2007 9:09 PM

Think bloomberg. I can't imagine him favoring more spendings in war(s). the man is a builder and he has the talent to bridge cultural gaps.

Posted by: tabita | October 31, 2007 8:36 PM

I know this will depress some Democrats, but I think the Democrats deserve Hillary in much the same way that Bill deserves Hillary!

God creates His own special and individualized hells for those who deserve hell! It's not one size fits all, like Hillarycare!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 8:22 PM

When Ice Queen Hillary's crowned Empress of the Democrats at the Denver Convention in 2008, her opponents can console themselves with one happy thought, no matter how disastrously it turns out for the Democrat Party!

Kucinich, Obama, Biden, Edwards, Dodd, and Richardson will not be clutched to the icy mammaries of Empress Hillary on cold nights!

That fate has been reserved for Bill! If you think there is no hell, ask Bill!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 8:05 PM

It amazes me how some on this list are trying to turn this into a gender issue. Oh please!

Hillary's gender is inconsequential. It's funny how the same people that advocate for female equality are now dramaticizing the debate as "6 guys vs. 1 girl."


If there was a candidate 100% identical to Hillary Clinton on issues, rhetoric and experience - and he was a man - none of you would be defending him now against "6 other guys" now would you? Instead, you would be celebrating.

Well, Hillary's time is over. She's losing steam, the polls are starting to show it, people are starting to realize that she's the WEAKEST general election candidate and Obama will be the nominee.

Posted by: gsopo001 | October 31, 2007 8:00 PM

I'm a woman and I want them to finish her off. She's a horrible candidate for the Dems.

Posted by: lonneeh | October 31, 2007 7:57 PM

One has to wonder that if it weren't for Hillary, what exactly would candidates in the Republican and Democratic debates talk about? I'm still amazed at the extent to which Hillary dominates the entire election narrative. No one (especially the media) seems to care much about the positions of others, it's all about Hillary and her positions.

And without a doubt, it is quite disgusting to watch a stage full of men pile on the field's only woman. As much as I love Tim Russert, he was a horrible moderator and blatantly unfair. Like it or not, this will not play well with women if it continues.

Posted by: aries3dc | October 31, 2007 7:55 PM

When Hillary's 30-point poll lead increases after this debate, we will observe each of her opponents (Kucinich, Obama, Dodd, Edwards, Biden, and Richardson) edging toward reconciliation!

Remember how Lyndon Johnson used to make the disfavored report to him as he sat on the crapper?

I wonder what forms of obeisance the Ice Queen will demand! And get!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:53 PM

Does anyone think Vladimir Putin will quail before Hillary's icy glare?

How 'bout Kim Jung Il?

The Iranian ayatollahs?

Osama bin Ladin?

Hugo Chavez?

Fidel Castro?

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:46 PM

I thought that Clinton's worst response of the evening was on the Iran resolution.

It demonstrated 3 things:

1) She's not that smart- her proposition that applying sanctions on the Iranian people is a form of diplomacy is inane- A SANCTION IS AN AGRRESSIVE ACT, not a form of diplomacy.

2) She sets up a false choice: do nothing or threaten Iran- simplistic thinking.

3) She does not have the ability to look as if she is thinking before she speaks. One can almost see the sheet of talking points invisibly placed in front of her face. Her eyes move as if she is reading her notes.

Posted by: kolp999 | October 31, 2007 7:41 PM

What about Hillary the enabler?

Her opponents accuse Hillary of "enabling" President Bush to attack Iran, but her opponents will never, never, ever critique how Hillary enabled Bill's serial infidelities from Little Rock to the Oval Office!

Why not?

It would be true, but it wouldn't be safe.

As a consequence, Queen Hillary will be crowed Empress of the Democrats at the 2008 Denver Convention, but her reign will only last till the day after Election Day.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:35 PM

It is extremely frustrating to realize that our country has no candidate with leadership as a President. Man or Woman this country cannot produce a leader that can get us out of the mess Bush and the Republican party has got us in to

I am an Independent with a hope for a Presidential candidate with integrity pride and guts.

Posted by: Reasjustice | October 31, 2007 7:35 PM

The true Hillary started to appear last night, and it's only going to become more and more apparent as we get closer to the election that there's no there there.

She never answers a question, she never commits to a position. Her answers always go like this:

1. Steal a slogan/campaign line from Obama and try to make it your own.

2. Make reference to your husband and the job he did back in the 1990s.

3. Say that you "appreciate" the work someone ELSE has done on the issue.

4. Blame George Bush and the Republicans...

And then she's out! NO POSITION STATED.

Seriously, how can anyone with a conscience who's a Democrat seriously want this woman to win? She got us into Iraq and now she's given the Bush Administration license to invade Iran.

Where is her judgment? Where is her integrity?

She has piled on more Pentagon earmarks than any other candidate, Democrat OR Republican. She takes money from PACs and lobbyists.

She is not for opennness and accountability in government.

She won't release her earmarks and she won't ask for the White House records that can "show" what kind of so-called experience she has.

She does not believe she has to answer to the American people. She can't even give a straight answer on the debate. I know she's a woman and all, but really, is that reason enough to support a candidate?


We're like lemmings running off the cliff with Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: lonneeh | October 31, 2007 7:30 PM

In seven of ten Presidential elections since 1968, Democrats have realized IN ADVANCE OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTIONS that they had chosen losers, and yet they could do nothing about it!

There's something TITANIC-like about the Democratic Party! Once the party builds up a head of steam, the propellers cannot be reversed, and the course cannot be altered, so the iceberg must be denied.


Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:28 PM

I made it to the top in corp.without the
coat tails of my husband, as most succesful
woman have. l am a Democrat after last
night I would never consider voting for never cry piling on...or you
men are coming after me, and that is not
fair and blah..blah...blah...blah Hillary
that is the worst possible response....if
this is your tactic to scream I am a woman
and you are attacking me....PLEASE GET OUT
STATES. Also, I have decided you really can not have called a General a
liar, therefore you can never be Commander
in Chief...and the military hates you and
has no respect for you. I have been thinking all day, and you talk a lot about
Bush, and the things he has implemented for
the war on terroism,and his being so secretive, those words also describe you & Bill for eight yrs....think about it baby long this democrat will be voting
for someone else.

Posted by: jlb32004 | October 31, 2007 7:21 PM

Obama brought the most telling comment of the evening: "Part of the reason that Republicans, I think, are obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that's a fight they're very comfortable having."

That blew me away. The scales fell from my eyes. Indeed, Hillary is the Republican's dream girl. It doesn't get any better.

The Republican right thrives on discord. They need enemies, and Hillary would fill the bill to perfection.

The White House is a write-off in '08, and they know that. But after a Clinton presidency - four tortured years of masterfully orchestrated partisan acrimony - 2012 would be a whole new ball game.

A unifier - a figure that could bring the country together and command even a modicum of respect - would isolate the neocons and wingnuts, deprive them of credibility, make them irrelevant. And they fear nothing more.

Posted by: wordsmith2 | October 31, 2007 7:15 PM

Here's why the Ice Queen Hillary will be crowned Empress of the Democrats at Denver!

Among Kucinich, Obama, Biden, Edwards, Dodd, and Richardson, two words cannot ever be uttered! MONICA LEWINSKY!

Unthinkable! Oh, horrible! Verboten! No! No! No! By contrast, the F-word would be tame.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:12 PM

Observing the Democrats, I see one common characteristic! CAUTION! AN OVERABUNDANCE OF CAUTION!

Each Dem candidate has advanced in life by hedging his or her bets, and playing the safe odds.

There's not an entrepreneur or capitalist or risk-taker among the bunch. In that regard, the Dems are just fundamentally different from the Republicans.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 7:06 PM

"This was not the first debate in which Clinton came under post-game criticism for refusing to answer questions. That's why what happened at the end of the debate was so telling. It helped tie a bow around the entire evening and allowed her opponents to leave feeling emboldened."

But, we ask, can cowards really be emboldened?

Courage and cowardice are not measured by "a quotient" like intelligence. Courage and cowardice are fundamental to character, unlike intelligence.

Does anyone really believe that Kucinich, Obama, Biden, Edwards, Dodd, and Richardson will suddenly become brave, like Dorothy's cowardly lion(s)?

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:56 PM

Why do people (not just Democrats!) perceive Hillary as stronger than Kucinich, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, Obama, and Dodd?

Not one of Hillary's opponents has her accumulation of Old Stuff, yet not one of Hillary's opponents commands any where close to THE DEFERENCE accorded to Hillary! Each, in his own way, subscribes to that deference, and it will give Hillary a pass to the Denver Coronation, at which they will all bend their knees and kiss her cold (but royal!) feet.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:49 PM

I am amazed by some of the people in this country. I remember Bill Clinton getting our support from the electrical union. Then I remember NAFTA and opening trade with China. For a man that was for labor he sure allowed special interest and big business the screw a lot of working people. I am now afraid that the union is going to back Hillary. American Labor can't afford another screwing like the last one. I don't know what Hillary really stands for but I don't think I want to put her in the White House and then find out.

Posted by: hpoff | October 31, 2007 6:43 PM

If Hillary thinks last night's debate was too tough, she won't be able to stand up to the republican attacks in the general election, despite what her campaign tells us.

Now that i think of it, when Hillary stood up to the republicans over her healthcare bill, she crashed and burned. Why should we think she can win against them now? The repubs seem pretty good at taking down the Clintons, and after all the Clinton scandals of the 1990s, there's alot of good ammo against the Clintons.

Posted by: julieds | October 31, 2007 6:42 PM

How did Democrats, liberals, and the liberal media get into this predicament with Hillary, in which the Denver Coronation is inevitable?

Okay, for Democrats, Hillary's icy glare is a reality they cannot ignore or defy, so they deceive themselves that others cannot ignore or defy that icy glare either.

But that's a fallacy!

Just as the Democrats convinced themselves that John Kerry's bumbling flipflop rhetoric made him SO VERY INTELLIGENT, they have convinced themselves that Republicans and other world leaders will be too intimidated by Hillary's icy glare to throw the Clintons' Old Stuff right in her face!

Once again we observe clearly how the mechanics of Democratic nomination boil down to the mechanics of Democratic electoral defeat!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:40 PM

How will we know when her opponent(s) penetrate Hillary's icy armor plate?

You'll know!

Because Hillary will turn her icy glare on the opponent(s) genitals, as in the comic Joe Biden incident!

You'll see more backpedalling than in a circus!

Did you see anything like that in this ballyhooed debate? I think not.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:31 PM

There is a line that Democrats, liberals, and the lib media will not cross in addressing the Clintons' Old Stuff. The Clintons know that, depend on it, and calculate their strategy to get the Dem nomination/coronation based on that unwritten and unspoken taboo.

Only Joe Biden has come close to breaking the Liberal Taboo, and Biden backed down so fast!

"By old stuff, I mean policy," Joe spluttered and expostulated as Hillary turned her icy glare on his genitals! "Policy! Policy!"

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:23 PM

"Six in 10 Democrats said she was the strongest leader among the top three candidates, but just 35 percent called her the most honest and trustworthy."

There's nothing inconsistent with this perception of Hillary among Democrats. A candidate can be strong and dishonest, i. e., Mugabe or Chavez.

And that's where the Democratic electorate has made its bargain with the devil in choosing Hillary! They've done it before with many Presidential candidates since 1968, and Hillary continues the Democratic sickness. When you value intelligence and slickness above courage and loyalty, you'll inevitably wind up with the Clintons!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:11 PM

I predict that Hillary's lead in the polls will increase!

These half-hearted attacks are worse than no attacks at all! Not, however, from the Hillary perspective! She loves it, and she should love it, knowing that they will ALWAYS PULL THEIR PUNCHES CONCERNING THE CLINTONS' OLD STUFF! The Dems are constitutionally incapable of doing what it takes to deconstruct Hillary.

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 6:03 PM

Remind me.

What presidential candidte was a "hero" on 9/11?

And what did he do that was heroic?

Posted by: marik7 | October 31, 2007 6:00 PM

I have to say that Hillary's Dem opponents make her look good, although she's a Nogoodnik from Whitewater to Westchester!

As these timid hyenas circle about, trying to nerve themselves up to say something BOTH POLITICALLY CORRECT AND NEGATIVE about Hillary, you can't help but feel contempt, and Hillary looks good by IMMEDIATE comparison.

If Obama, Biden, Edwards, Kucinich, Dodd, and Richardson did not exist, the Clinton Machine would have to invent them!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 5:55 PM

The Democrats just have no stomach for throwing the Clintons' Old Stuff in Hillary's face, and Hillary depended on this Democrat subscription to a code of polite taboos to build a insurmountable lead.

Hillary just seems tougher (in a cold sort of way) than Obama, Kucinich, Edwards, Dodd, and Biden, a bunch of old liberal ladies!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 5:49 PM

Half of the Democratic senators had the moral fortitude to stand up and say no to Bush when he cynically asked for permission to go to war in Iraq. Everyone knew it was a sham but was afraid of being accused of being weak on terrorism. How about being strong on the Constitution? There is now no doubt that it was the biggest foreign policy disaster in decades. Hilary didn't have the guts to stand up and say no to Bush and the wrapped in the flag false-patriot scoundrels. I can not forgive her for that.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 31, 2007 5:48 PM

Hillary has earned the right to be president. This is just so stupid. Obama should just concede and save us a lot of money so we can get on with the business of the real election.

Posted by: marzshadow | October 31, 2007 5:44 PM

This kind of pattycake is what the WP insists on calling heavy hitting!

Peewee football players hit harder than this!

But there will be hardball after Hillary's crowned Empress of the Democrats, and the Republicans get at her!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 5:44 PM

I am a Clinton supporter and I will say that I reject the campaign's whine (if true -- I haven't seen it) about the men beating up on the woman. I believe this woman can hold her own and there's no need to go there.
Having said that, I think Tim Russert was a complete jerk.

I seriously doubt this changes anything whatsoever for any of the candidates. It absolutely doesn't change my support for Clinton. As far as I'm concerned, no one else on stage could have handled the heat and I think she did very well.

For Edwards supporters, this was a home run. But I predict he doesn't gain any additional support.

Has anyone posting here, who wasn't voting for Edwards before this debate, changed and are going to back him now because of this debate?
Just curious.

Posted by: freespeak | October 31, 2007 5:43 PM

I think the Clinton "leading in the national polls" headline can now be dropped for once and for all!

The national polls at this stage simply reflect a name recognition rather than issues or substance. If you need evidence,
look at where Steven Colbert's poll numbers are. I do not believe he is running fifth in the polls because he has a better policy but just because he is a well-known name.

Posted by: dotmike | October 31, 2007 5:43 PM

Well here we go again; Saint Hillary is about to employ again the same method she used so effectively in her campaign to defeat the kid Republican Lazio.

At that time most felt it urgent to end her presidential aspirations by defeating her in the first senatorial contest. A fellow by the name of Giuliani seemed just the man to do it. However, he seemed to have lost heart at the prospect of running against a Clinton with the backing of the majority of New York liberal women, the Jewish establishment, the New York Afro-Americans cultivated in part by Slick Willie's Harlem Office location, and so he withdrew at the last moment claiming medical disability. Apparently his prostate condition was not too burdensome since he was courting the lady soon to become his wife. However, that's as maybe. Folks who contributed to his campaign did not have their money back. Passing strange conduct.

Please excuse the digression but necessary to set the scene. So the youngster Lazio volunteered to slay the dragon but got darn little help from the GOP party who had also written this race off to an unbeatable Hillary.

The method--yes the method--when our young champion sought to engage Hillary the hard as nails feminist in tough debate suddenly she and the lib media of New York screamed bloody murder. How could the chap be so mean and attack a poor defensely woman and so the result was to figuratively emasculate the GOP champion. Make nice to Hillary she is just a wronged mother and doing her best to get ahead in a man's world. Oh yeah.

And so in last night's debate her attack dogs and early reaction team fired off salvos trying to distract voters from the weakness and flaws her male competitors found so easy to showcase and use to their advantage. The fact remains that she and her legions of war room veterans may cry "Gang Bang" one doubts that the any of her tough competitors will be so easily cowed as was our hero of 9/11.

But she and her hit men will sure as heck give it the old college try. Stay tuned this primary season may play out with a touch of zest and spice afterall.

Posted by: wcg1 | October 31, 2007 5:41 PM

Cmc91, the problem is that Hillary is fully unsuitable and extremely dangerous pick for the presidency. she is extremely aggressive and accustomen to hit always where it hurts the most. By the way, it is the part of her extremy unsuitability. She is now weak, she is not a leader material, especially now, after what Bush, who, by the way, got to White House with her extremely essential help with creating of half-impeachment of her own husband, has done within last seven years nationally and internationally. Among other achievements they corrupted deeply the entire election procedure, which might become a real problem, if Mrs. clinton is running. A lot of people understand how extremely dangerous , unreasonable and even suicidal for the country her election would be, but with the fixed voting machines, it (her election) might still go through. If democrats unite to force her out of the race, it would be much, much safer. She (her election) means the war with Iran, and this time, in difference with Iraq, the nuclear war, and WWIII. This dynasty Bush-Clinton should have become obsolete yesterday, or day before yesterday. It didn't happen, but it should happen tomorrow.

Posted by: aepelbaum | October 31, 2007 5:41 PM

Hillary just did not seem like the kind of person you would want to hang around with. That might not be the best reason to pick a leader (indeed, the disaster of W proves that) but it still matters. On character and trust, she seems extremely vulnerable. Still I think the whole field is pretty substantial, but the one who seems both likeable, and really smart and capable, is Barack.

Posted by: dlcaskey | October 31, 2007 5:41 PM

It's too late for any of Hillary's Dem opponents to stop the steamrolling Clinton Machine! They waited too long! Momentum built! Now, it's a irresistable force, with a 30-point lead in the polls!

Whether you like it or not, the Ice Queen slouches, heavy-thighed, toward Denver to be crowned Empress of the Democrats!

Hail, Hillary! Hell, yes!

Posted by: DaTourist | October 31, 2007 5:40 PM

Regarding the Democratic debate last night:

I thought Clinton did well, too....don't know what the negative hype is about. After the debate, I felt better about her, as my choice, than I ever have. I can tell she has great plans for this country. She appears to me to be someone who has *A LOT* of energy and ideas. In my past experiences, I have discovered that when someone exhibits that much energy and willingness (and genius), and professionalism -- to deny that person the chance to perform is so detrimental, it brings everything down. You will ALWAYS ask yourself during times of regret: "What would it have been like?"

A particular moment I remember is when Chris Dodd was saying something about providing a "real change". This was when he was impulsively attacking her. When he said that she would not be a change, I looked at Clinton in the background. She was visibly jumping out of her skin, fidgeting, thinking of all the ideas she just mentioned. And details? She has far more details about those ideas than anyone. It gets me excited to think about the future of our country with her at the helm.

With her energy, ideas, eagerness to lead, brains, gender (yes, gender matters because women, who are that powerful, typically work harder than men because they have to - it's a fact of life). I'm excited. I have not been this excited since Kerry picked Edwards as a running mate in 2004. I was however, deeply dissatisfied with Edwards thereafter. To me, Edwards is the worse choice for the nomination. Remember seeing him with Cheney during the V.P. debate? Edwards will lose again when up against the GOP.

So, I saw Clinton's energy in a positive way, no "shrillness." I think some misrepresent or interpret a strong eager woman looking for change as shrill. Maybe she was annoyed. Maybe she just sees this as petty maintenance. It does appear to me that she is above the other candidates, in professionalism.

My favorite, though, was Joe Biden. He always makes me laugh -- even if he was laughing at the expense of Kucinich and Giuliani.

Posted by: pinechee | October 31, 2007 5:35 PM

Like many others in the legislative branch, Ms. Clinton eschewed the Congressional requirement of a declaration of war in favor of a heat-of-the-moment, political slamdunk (at the time). The Democrats dug their own grave with their supine capitulation to Bush and his fabrications.

We're in a mess. Is there an honorable way out? I'm obviously not the only person with no answer.

Posted by: marik7 | October 31, 2007 5:33 PM

I am an African-American woman and I'm tired of all the clintonistas on this blog. I remember the ABC debate in August 19th where all the candidates were piling on Senator Obama for his position about al-qaeda in Pakistan. The next day i didn't see anyone talking about all these white people piling on a black man. This is a shameless excuse to use her gender to spin her performance yesterday in the debate. When your are passing a test for the most important job in this world, you have to explain to your future employers (the American people) why the have to choose you. How can they choose you when they don't know what you stand for or even worse when you are able in less than two minutes to be for and against a simple question in the same time. Now they have announced in the New York times that she is for it. That may be because she looked at the internal polls this morning before making her mind. I'm an independent leaning towards Obama. If the democratic party wants another defeat they should choose this woman.

Posted by: jo1976 | October 31, 2007 5:30 PM

what does this have to do with the fact Hilary is a woman?

what does this have to do with "ganging up"?

they have to "gang up" against the frontrunner. If not, what is the point of running. This is a primary, NOT a coronation.

Hilary's flaws have nothing to do with her being a woman, and I don't understand the estrogen based defense.

Her flaws are obvious and were finally on full display last night. She stands for nothing except her political career, and will not get pinned down on what she stands for or against, this way she can "triangulate" her way out it later. Most politicans do this, but few as often and as well as the Clintons.

and of course the Republicans bring her up because she is precisely whom they'd like to run against.

these are facts.

Hilary is a brilliant woman. Every answer is researched and rehearsed, she'd be the best lawyer one could imagine. She can defend me anytime with those researched and rehearsed answers, and lying/triangulating while never interrupting a smile.

But is this what we want in a President?

I am amazed the Democrats are coronating HER with one of their best chances at the Presidency. I'd rather have Nancy Pelosi, if it has to be a woman.

Posted by: bogey666 | October 31, 2007 5:28 PM

Golly now shes only 28 points ahead

Posted by: gonville1 | October 31, 2007 5:27 PM

I'm not sure why certain Democrats/Feminists want to continue repeating this line about "5 mean beating up on the lone woman." This makes Hillary come across as very weak, and not up to the challenge of running this country. Maybe Hillary ought to take up knitting and retire from this race if she can't handle legitimate criticism from her opponents. As they say, politics ain't beanbag.

Posted by: smc91 | October 31, 2007 5:25 PM

I don't really get this spin. Almost every question involved Senator Clinton in some way. MSNBC was desperately fishing for a fight. That Clinton "stumbled" once or twice is really not all that meaningful considering she was put on the defensive the entire night, and no such "gotcha" questions were hurled the way of the other candidates. That being said, I don't think she stumbled even in those moments. She simply didn't play Russert's (the media's) "yes/no black/white" game. She gave nuanced answers that, while serving her politically, also serve the issues realistically. She is so much more poised and strong than Obama, and so much more sincere than Edwards, even though he did have a good night as well.

Posted by: stephendedalus82 | October 31, 2007 5:18 PM

I thought it an interesting debate and was please to see that Hillary's true side came out and well before criticsm -- partisan and polarizing I've been saying all along -- I am surprised more people didn't pick up on the line I liked: "Part of the reason that Republicans, ... are obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that's a fight they're very comfortable having. It is the fight that we've been through since the '90s." -- We don't need it -- Obama might not please the press because he would rather debate a remark than attack her for no reason -- he got in a few. Axelrod should take the muzzle off him and let him trust his gut and his wife -- he'll do well if he follows those two things.

Posted by: paulet | October 31, 2007 5:17 PM

and the deck of cards crumble...

Posted by: seawolfR | October 31, 2007 5:13 PM

Why can't she just answer a question, ANY question in a straightforward way? It would avoid this emerging narrative. BTW, Sen. Hagel just sent a letter to Bush saying talk to Iran, no preconditions (from Steve Clemons) How "naive" of him.

Posted by: RollaMO | October 31, 2007 5:07 PM

I don't think gender factor should even be mention in such a crucial election like this 2008 presidential bid. We are in a cross road in our history were intellectualism counts and not gender. I belief that those who are propagating this factor of gender are the uneducated and this is the only way for them to express themselves. We as Americans should understand the real reason for change and change is not found in repetition but in innovation. New faces are welcome to Washington to bring new ideas.

Posted by: ordgobaltc | October 31, 2007 4:56 PM

If Hillary does not have what it takes to stand up to a group of men "piling on" then she does not have what it takes to be leader of the free world. Do you think Rudy would release a statement like the one her brilliant team did? Didn't think so.

And for the women on this board who think the other candidates and Russert were mean to Hillary, get over it. You are the reason why 25% of those polled say they won't vote for a woman.

Posted by: svmorris | October 31, 2007 4:55 PM

LOL....You Clinton people are idiots!! The Clintons always have to have a 'boogeyman'....some 'evil' person that is out to get them. For Bill it was Ken Starr...and then the 'vast right wing conspiracy'...and last night for Hillary is was Tim Russert!! They seem to grasp for anything or anyone to take the focus off of them and their inability to give clear concise answers or to tell the truth about anything!!

Posted by: maddogjts | October 31, 2007 4:52 PM

And the old Clinton spin machine goes into action: "Oh, how dare you attack a woman! Why have they abandoned the politics of hope for personal attacks?" First of all, if you want to run on your abilities and not your gender, then you lose the right to whine about said gender when things get tough. Second, saying "You're wrong and I'm right" is not a personal attack, it's how people debate. What the Clinton campaign is doing is no different than what the Bush Administration has done to anyone who opposes their policies. Don't fall for it, America.

Posted by: petekwando | October 31, 2007 4:49 PM

It's interesting that all the Hillary bombed comments come from folks who are obviously fully paid up members of the Hillary Hate Club. There's not an ounce of perspective, nuance, or insight. It's all gotcha or she's the daughter of satan stuff. I've got news for you guys. This debate was watched by about 2 million people at most. She took on seven guys, Russert was most umprofessional, and despite all the hysteria no one really damaged her one bit. It wasn't her strongest performance so far but is that surprising given the odds but they still didn't down her. In summary it will have little or no affect on the race, if anything it probably helped with some women because of the egregious piling on. I would say the amount of bloviating on the net today has been in inverse proportions to the impact it will have on the actual race. Unfortunately most bloggers lose sight of the law of snakes on planes that states that what happens on the internet appears much more important than what's happening in the real world when the reverse is so.

Posted by: johnbsmrk | October 31, 2007 4:47 PM

So she finally got caught doing the Triangulation Tango. 'Bout time. She's Bill Clinton without the charm or speaking ability.

Posted by: foutsc | October 31, 2007 4:47 PM

I continue to be amazed by the level of 'free-pass' that Sen. Clinton gets away with. I am also amazed that millions of Americans, who desperately love this country, continue to support her. For everyone who continues to support and defend her, I pose a simple question: Do you really believe that Sen. Clinton is being honest and forth-right in all her answers? I will also ask another question: If Sen. Clinton does win the nomination, how likely is she to attract enough Independents and Republicans to win the White House? And my final question is this: If she does win the White House, the Republicans who have spent the last 15 years demonizing her; will they simply lay down their arms and join her? As a proud Democrat, I want my party to retake the White House. I truly believe that the principles of the Democratic party are far greater than those of the Republicans. But, as proud as I am to be a Democrat, I am even prouder to be an American. And as a proud American, I want the very best person for the job of president. I do not JUST want the person who can beat the other side, but the person who can really GOVERN this nation. And in order to govern, the next person who becomes president, must be able to work with the reddest of Republicans, and the bluest of Democrats. I truly do not believe that Sen. Clinton is that person. Our goal as Americans, should be to elect the person who represents ALL of us, and not just those who agree with us. We do not need a Democratic version of Pres. Bush in the next administration. I pray that when all is said and done, Democrats, Republicans, and all Americans can join together, and help this country to build on its greatness.

Posted by: frfrew11 | October 31, 2007 4:43 PM

"Clinton's advisers also believe Edwards, because he was so aggressive, risks turning off voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. They believe even more strongly that the spectacle of a group of men attacking the lone female candidate on the stage represents, in their words, "the politics of pile-on.""

Is this objective giving-the-other side? No, this is introducing editorial stupidity into a straight news report. Not your fault, Balz, since you are just following accepted journalistic practice these days. But these words from Clinton advisors are neither innocent or objective.

Without these words, would you have a story? If not, could you find one elsewhere?

Hillary Clinton is being chosen by the press, feeble and strong alike, in the same way the press, bandwagon-style, supported a pre-emptive war against Iraq in 2002/03. This is neither journalism or patriotism. What have you done to Obama?


Posted by: walden1 | October 31, 2007 4:39 PM

The debate last night may have played well for Hillary with D.C. posters, but not that well for Hillary in Peoria and fly-over country. Clear to see that Hillary's "experience" and "gravitas" come from assuming a role as the political-hack spouse who has sucked up literally all of the global oxygen of her husband's entire presidency and claiming it as her own, but without delivering the paperwork that is locked up in her husband's Arkansas salon archives which will undoubtedly extol her virtues and prove her wieght of
"experience" by the time it is all perfectly scrubbed. Hello? No record exists in print that Hillary Clinton has ever been independent, or independently successful, virtuous, of good charactor or honest.

The first time she is not given a complete pass from moderators and the other candidates, the howling, name calling and slander machine is plugged in. Please, spare us your defensive postures for Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Rita2 | October 31, 2007 4:35 PM

Well here is real surprise (not).

Poor, poor Hillary being beat up by these mean old men.

Tell that to Billy Dale, or Ken Starr or any of the many others that the Clintons have been only to willing to savage over the years in order to accomplish their own political ends.

I am very tired of the devisiveness in this county, but Hillary will not end it. She will only continue it.

I want to go through another 8 years of Clintons (I will give them credit for a decent economy though) like I want a daily root canal on an infected tooth.

But this will be her classic routine.

Do not pick on me because I am a woman (while she silently shoves a shive in the back of any one she thinks needs it).

Posted by: clarencenlsn2007 | October 31, 2007 4:35 PM

Clinton- Name of a winner
Edwards- Name of a loser. Could not stand upto Chenney in a debate
Obama- Sissy and good dancer
Russert- Corporate paid coward. Takes on whatever suits his employer

In conclusion, a winner will be always a winner. There is always two side to a story and Clinton know how to portray the right side of the story. I don't want to be run over by an illegal immigrant without auto insurance. But Fed needs to kick them out when feasible. That is the two side of the story.

Posted by: SeedofChange | October 31, 2007 4:33 PM

1. the difference between the democrats and the republicans is astonishing.
2. the democrats have a host of capable candidates.
3. last night, Senator Biden truly demonstrated that he is the best of the lot. it was amazing how often the others began their answers, "As Joe said ..."

Posted by: ceddonne | October 31, 2007 4:30 PM

"Feminism" (whatever that means) has become such a Holy Grail in America that Hillary can't be criticized. That's B.S.

If Bush won't go to war with Iran, Hillary will. You can take that to the bank. is my blog.

Posted by: justinsanders15 | October 31, 2007 4:30 PM

I am not for all the men appearing to beat up the only woman on the stage. I think she's a brilliant person and deserves her chance.
However, her vote on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shows a serious flaw. Either her vote was:
Not well thought out;
Showed she'll be o.k. with an attack on the IRG;
Showed she will attack them, if it doesn't happen before Bush and Cheney leave office;
Didn't take it seriously;
Believes that vote can be modified, somehow, by Congress, to short circuit Bush-Cheney using it as their grounds for attacking another Middle Eastern/Islamic nation.
Any of those shows a serious flaw in her judgement, and make me pause.
Congress should not abrogate it's own rights to delcare war. I do not want another war with a Middle Eastern Islamic nation. If you do, be sure and offer up your husband or wife; children or grandchildren; nephews or neices, for sacrifice. I sure won't do the same with my kin.
An attack on Iran will propel us into the third war with Islam. We may very well be drawn into a proxy war in Israel, for a fourth war, and, if Pakistan falls, five wars with Islam. Bush, Cheney, and Clinton will have ALL sold their souls to the Devil.
She made a SERIOUS mistake with that vote.
If we could contain the Soviet Union and Communist China during the Cold War, we sure as hell ought to be able to contain an Iran without so much as the first nuclear weapon, warhead, or even, dirty bomb.

Posted by: zennhead614wheatland | October 31, 2007 4:28 PM

This was my first time listening to any of the presidential debates and I also thought Obama and Edwards hit a nerve. I saw Hillary with the same old "stay the course" tactics and saw her as offering the least change of any of the candidates. Her answers were evasive and she got caught by Russert re: the refusal to release historical documents. The stonewalling was worthy of the Bush Leaguers. The criticism of that tactic by the other debaters was exactly on the nose.

I also found her demeanor distant and cold, though I've read she was much warmer in other debates. I attended the Rural Farm conference in Ames, Iowa this past weekend and learned that while Obama is proposing a rural conference in Iowa, Hillary will hold one in D.C. which will be hosted by Monsanto. That pretty sums up how deep into corporate pockets she is and Edwards' comment re: not being able to trust her because of those corporate contributions is right on the nose.

Posted by: gbal1 | October 31, 2007 4:26 PM

hard to believe clinton's wishes 4peace are sincere when her strongest backer is precisely the military industry.
The reason why she obeys what "her real boss" orders.With a couple of well learn double speech strategies she can deceive the populace to vote for another war while pocketing the profits of such horror.
Strange that hillary as a woman and as a mother has NO conmpassion whatsoever for the millions of mothers who have to see their children die in their arms with their eyes swollen by the bombs she approves with pride

Posted by: tabita | October 31, 2007 4:24 PM

I think this was the first debate that I have seen where the flaws in Sen. Clinton's platform were magnified, as they should be. If you read anything about her platform on key issues like the economy, her views, when she has them, are generic cop outs. For instance, she has never really commented what she would do with the economy other than promote "fiscal responsibility." I am glad that the other candidates not only pointed out her platform's flaws, but also drew a clear threshold that separates the mouse from the men.

Posted by: princessjillybean | October 31, 2007 4:14 PM

No blood was spilt - are youse guys kiddin'??? If this was a 'boxing-match' HILLARY would have been stopped for being a 'moronic' bleeder!!! The answers to the 'DRIVERS LICENSE for ILLEGALS' was 'CLASSIC CLINTONSPEAK' - both sides of any position and you 'guess' which side the new FEMALE FASCIST is on ???!!! HILLARY -not as smart - not as articulate - not as good-looking as 'IL DUCE- BENITO' but pants-suits hides a lotta' 'UGLINESS'. HILLARY our new FEMALE FUHRER - PERHAPS SHE'LL FIND THE DENNIS KUCINICH ARGENTIFEROUS UFO AND SHE CAN GET DONATIONS FROM THE 'REAL ILLEGAL ALIENS'???!!! HILLARY lies for all occassions - but then she is just a 'Clinton'.

Posted by: ZyskandarAJaimot | October 31, 2007 4:00 PM

7 men against 1 woman just the odds Dan likes. The press are so desperate to make a horserace of this that they see nothing wrong with the repugnant spectacle of Russert stepping way over the line in his role as supposedly neutral moderator in order to lead a charge of men against Hillary. Even right wing sites are picking up on how the negative questions were stacked against her. Seven men took her on for two hours and none knocked her down. She won by not loosing to these bozos.

Posted by: johnbsmrk | October 31, 2007 3:59 PM

What I saw last night:
5 Male candidates attacking, in pure desperation, the lone woman who can propel Democrats to victory in November 2008. I saw, a 6th man, stating the truth that the rest of the field had sunk to personal attacks against the lady senator.
What else did I see?
Hillary stood her ground- tough stuff that most of the candidates on stage could not have done in her position. She will wear well in the general election against the slimball politicians of the right wing.

Posted by: mcsizzlesizzle | October 31, 2007 3:58 PM

This is Clintons weakness and it will only grow louder and stronger. From Maureen Dowd's column today:

Hillary doesn't speak truth to power any more. Now that Mark Penn believes women can carry her to victory, Hillary speaks girlfriend to girlfriend.

That tack, Caitlin Flanagan writes in The Atlantic, would only work if she were "willing to let us women in on the big, underlying struggle of her life that is front and center in our understanding of who she is as a woman. Her husband's sexual behavior, quite apart from the private pain that it has caused her, has also sullied her deepest -- and most womanly -- ideals and convictions, for the Clintons' political partnership has demanded that she defend actions she knows to be indefensible. To call her husband a philanderer is almost to whitewash him, for he's used women far less sophisticated, educated and powerful than he -- women particularly susceptible to the rake's characteristic blend of cajolery and deceit -- for his sexual gratification.

"In glossing over her husband's actions and abetting his efforts to squirm away from the scrutiny and judgment they provoke, Hillary has too often lapsed into her customary hauteur and self-righteousness and added to the pain delivered upon these women."

Posted by: Big_Blue | October 31, 2007 3:58 PM

John Edwards: "Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes. America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them."

She certainly talks just like a Clinton.

Posted by: NeverLeft | October 31, 2007 3:57 PM

This story, about Clinton supposedly "stumbling", is itself so-much spin. I watched the debate and it seemed she pretty much withstood a relentless two hour attack by the candidates and Russert, and very little blood was left on the floor. I like her a lot more than I did before- none of the other candidates in either party could have done better. I may even hold my nose and vote for her. Balz and WaPo have been in the RNC's pocket for awhile now, so another item like this is to be expected. But what is Russert's beef? He was extremely unprofessional, even for him. It was like Clinton found herself on the O'Reilly hour- and by the way, she did fine.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | October 31, 2007 3:43 PM

I don't think Democrats will appreciate the campaign turning into a "trash-Hillary" party. There are ways to attack her on the issues, but most Dems will not cotton to personal attacks on Hillary: they know she has been fighting the Republicans for years, they know the GOP can't stand her because she is a strong survivor, and they appreciate her for that if nothing else. They may not agree with her on some issues, but Democrats do still admire her, as evidenced by her incredible leads in all polls despite all the naysaying. By bullying her, Obama and Edwards are not going to cause people who have supported Clinton all this time, through all the withering attacks over the years, to suddenly change their minds. They're just going to make Clinton Democrats rally around her, like they did for Bill during the impeachment witch-hunt. I admire Hillary more now than ever for her strength in weathering these attacks, because they make the attackers look like desperate losers to me. True or not, that's how I felt after last night. I have my reservations about Hillary, but I was not comfortable with last night's ambush at all.

Posted by: DJK1 | October 31, 2007 3:40 PM

If Cheney and Bush bomb Iran, Clinton's poll numbers could sink.

Posted by: mdschacker | October 31, 2007 3:38 PM

Obama threaded the needle. Heated his rhetoric enough to match his statements and sat back and watched Edwards, Dodd and Biden hammer Hillary. Hillary is bleeding and the sharks are getting closer.

Posted by: fatboysez | October 31, 2007 3:37 PM

Clinton could be n real trouble now. Why? Beyond this debate, which exposed her weakness, she really has authorized Bush to attack Iran.

People forget the 2002 War Authorization the AUMF, was also for a Global War on Terror:

"Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations,"

So by declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorists, Clinton in fact DID authorize war in Iran, when you take the two resolutions together.

Posted by: mdschacker | October 31, 2007 3:37 PM

It seems that all the boys including the moderators cannot stand the thought of a woman becoming president. First it was the GOPs now it is the Dems and NBC.

What is the matter boys? Afraid if Hillary is elected you have to sit down to pee?

Posted by: wj_phillips | October 31, 2007 3:32 PM

I don't think very many people in the electorate really expect American politicians to be trustworthy. What we need now is someone strong enough to clean up the messes of the last 30 years of systematic neglect within many of the civilian agencies of the Federal government, and to realistically assess what is actually needed for national defense instead of just responding to a wish list from defense contractors. HHS and EPA were the only agencies well-run under the previous Clinton. The first Bush ran DoD pretty well. Some other agencies and individual offices within agencies have managed to do well by just working in relative obscurity and staying out of trouble with Congress, like the Social Security Administration. Other than these agencies I previously mentioned, and some random successes here and there, most of the Federal government works on auto-pilot under mandates created in the 1960s and 1970s. We need to start making some tough choices about the size and scope of this government, like, do we really need all that public land in the West, can't Indians fend for themselves now after 100 years, couldn't the activities of the FAA be privatized and paid for when you buy your plane ticket, etc? We can't afford this much government without either more borrowing or else having European levels of taxation. Yet year after year these and other problems are ignored as the good ship America starts to take on water and begin to sink. Reagan and Tip O'Neill did the country a great disservice by pretending that people could have a big government without paying for it. Perot tried to educate people with his little charts and such, but he was totally ignored by the Washington establishment. From his debate with Al Gore in 1994, you can replace every time he uttered the word "Mexico" and replace it with "China", and it all came true. He may have been an imperfect messenger personally, but there has yet to be another candidate who has espoused sensible, workable, centrist ideas the way he did in 1992. When I see one that does, they'll have my vote in a heartbeat.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | October 31, 2007 3:31 PM

Well said Gabrielle.
Also, Hillary's infuriating politics of triangulation (basically stand for everything and nothing at the same time) was finally laid bare. What's the point of voting for her if you never know where she actually stands? She's running for president just to be president. Meanwhile as she satisfies her ego, she costs the Democrats many down-ticket races. Think about it!
Obama 2008!

Posted by: JohnY63 | October 31, 2007 3:31 PM

Clinton supporters seem to love to play to victim. Is there a such thing as playing the 'gender' card. When she is being criticized it is because the 'men' are going after a 'woman'. This is her defense and it is the defense of her supporters. I don't want a victim president. If she can't take the heat, she should get out of the kitchen.

Posted by: Retnep | October 31, 2007 3:30 PM

Hillary was horrible in the debate. Both Clinton and Obama lost my vote a week or so ago when they came out in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. McCain is gaining ground in my eyes. At least he talks straight up. I wish Gore was running again, but if not I think McCain is getting my vote. Edwards isn't too bad and Huckabee is making some sense too. Like Lou Dobbs advocates, I think I will re-register as an Independent.

Posted by: steven09 | October 31, 2007 3:25 PM

Maybe I saw a different debate last night, but I left suitably impressed. There's a lot about Hilary that I don't like (principally her vote for the war) but last night she came off as sharp and smary, in my opinion. Indeed, I found it odd that so many complained about her answer on the Elliot Spitzer/Drving License thing. She delivered as good a response as possible under the circumstances and given that its an issue that will be Demagogued to death over the coming months.

Posted by: DavidFlores | October 31, 2007 3:24 PM

Regardless of her performance in the most recent debate, Hillary is extremely vulnerable to defeat by a seedy Republican such as Rudy. I respect Hillary's intelligence but fail to respect her political equivocations, especially regarding an immoral and deadly war. This country cannot afford another Republican victory for the White House, especially from the pro-war, pro-business, anti-people group we now have. Their tone indicates they will follow the faulty path of the feckless Bush. America will topple with four more years of Bush ideology. We can hardly stomach 15 more months of his deceit, war and tyranny.

Posted by: hoovjim | October 31, 2007 3:22 PM

This is an important election, and it really frustrates me when I see comments like the one above which said that a large group of people thought that the picture of six men trying to bring down a woman was the story of the night. She should not get a free pass just because she is a woman. Quite frankly, if she wasn't a woman, there really wouldn't be much of a difference between her and Chris Dodd. This election shouldn't be about gender. It's too important. It's fine to vote for anyone, but please let it be on the basis of ideas and character, and let us examine her ideas and character. Her character IS an issue, and it was one that was examined last night, as it should be. I thought that the moderators were perhaps overly tough, but I learned more in this debate than probably any other debate I've seen so far, so they deserve credit for that too.

Posted by: gabriellerner99 | October 31, 2007 3:11 PM

Wow you finally found something to write about to try to get this to be a real race. Shame it is so minor.

The press is bored and Dan Balz is showing just how bored he is with this column. I have just come from a luncheon attended by about 1000 women and they collectively thought Hillary did great and that the picture of six men all trying to bring down a woman was the story of the night.

But I guess Dan Balz can't see that story, either because he is a man or because he just doesn't like that story because it leaves him little to write about in the next eight weeks. Maybe we would all be better off for that.

Should Hillary have done better on the Spitzer answer. Yes she should have. But after listening to those guys for nearly two hours, and having that pompous political hack, Tim Russert play gotcha with her again, I guess she was just tired of the game. hat is not an excuse I know and it wasn't a great answer. But again having to answer questions from Russert who likes to forget that he was a political hack from Buffalo that lucked out into a good job because of his political connections can't be easy. I don't mind that he got a good job at all because after all many people get their start because of political connections and then do well. But just don't forget where you came from and act above it all. That is the offensive part about Russert.

As to Edwards, he is showing his frustration. Running for President for four years and being in third place going down hill has to be tough. Obama again proved he just doesn't have it and he in many ways took Hillary off the hook by agreeing with Spitzer and answering in a convoluted way as well.

Anyway- I don't think this debate will change much in the polls and the big bump that Obama needed to catch Hillary won't come from this debate.

Posted by: peterdc | October 31, 2007 2:21 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company