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In GOP Debate, It's Clinton By a Mile

The Republican presidential candidates debated in Florida last night. (Bloomberg)

The score from Sunday night's Republican debate in Florida was as follows:

Hillary Clinton: 33
Barack Obama: 0
John Edwards: 0

That, of course, is the number of times that each was mentioned by GOP candidates or the questioners during the debate. As is clear, there was no contest. Obama and Edwards were completely absent in the hour-and-a-half debate.

Clinton was not.

True, the repeated mentions of Clinton were not meant to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings about the senator from New York. There was not a nice thing to be said, outside of Sen. John McCain's promise to be "respectful" of her.

He then called her out for sponsoring a $1 million funding request for a Woodstock museum.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was perhaps the harshest, turning what had been a humor-laced attack by the other candidates into a deadly serious affair.

"If she's president, taxes go up, health care becomes the domain of the government, spending goes out of control, our military loses its morale, and I'm not sure we'll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country's ever faced in Islamofascism," he said.

But Clinton's advisers may well have been gleeful. After all, her campaign hardly needs to make the inevitablity argument about her anymore. The Republicans are making it for her, loudly and publicly.

Even the questioners appeared to make the assumption that Clinton is the one to beat. Fox News's Chris Wallace noted that not one Republican candidate is currently ahead of Clinton in head-to-head polling.

"We can understand why they're all so angry: as Chris Wallace made clear, Hillary is beating each of them," said Phil Singer, one of Clinton's spokesmen.

That Obama and Edwards were totally ignored is a signal of two things: the expectation among Republicans that Clinton will succeed in winning the nomination. And the belief that Clinton, uniquely, is able to serve as a foil for ginning up Republican ire and passion.

So far, it seems to be working. The audience of about 3,000 at the debate hooted and hollered loudly every time her name was mentioned.

And the only time they booed: When Ron Paul talked about opposing the war.

--Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  October 22, 2007; 8:33 AM ET
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of course, it's because of her high negatives. They all want her to be the Dem nominee. They believe they'll beat her. What do you expect? For them to advance say Obama or Edwards? Those two will woop these a*ses out. Everybody knows if Hillary is the nomineed many Dems and Independents will rather vote Republic, particularly for Rudy.

Posted by: ftroit | October 23, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

As a Republican, I think the Republicans are going to lose this one pretty much whoever runs--and deservedly; time in the wilderness will be good for the party. The problem is to run someone who will make a decent showing and hold on to as much as possible in Congress. Democrats who won't vote for Hillary are probably a good deal less numerous than Republicans who won't vote for the Bush foreign policy.

And thank you, Mr. Shear, for laying this post out in a logical order, old to new, top to bottom. You wouldn't believe how often the arrangement is "newest first," so that anyone who wants to follow the argument has to jump to the end and work backward.

Posted by: iyenori | October 23, 2007 2:59 AM | Report abuse

After amassing record governmental debt, developing policies to further outsource American jobs, engaging in military conflicts using dubious reasoning, crafting arrangements with dictatorships to acquire oil profits, and crafting policies that have begun to send this country on a downward spiral ...

... I am still surprised by the arrogance of neoconservatives.

Apparently, responsibility for one's actions and policies are not a component of the neoconservative psyche.

Posted by: ceton | October 23, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

With the exceptions of McCain, Paul, and possibly Thompson; the Republican candidates are (in my opinion) viper-filled tombs busy trying to whitewash themselves.

Posted by: rricketts | October 22, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

It looked like Romney was the victim of a Florida haircut (left too long on top, massacred on the sides), which would explain his looking uncomfortable and slightly dissheveled as the debate began; he came back later on (maybe an unseen Neil Cavuto fixed him up?). No one like McCain (I hope the Hillarrhoids & the Wolfowitzeans heard that); if only he were younger. Mr. Excitement, Fred Thompson, the Candidate from Elmer Fudd, came a crapper, stumbling & bumbling and looking like Eisenhower after slicing one into the drink or having to see Nixon. Paul (Robt. A. Taft out of Ross Perot) & Hucky (next time bring the git-tar) droned on too long and Hunter went the anti-Hispanic (he says it's illegal immigrants) Tancredo one further by taking a swipe at the Chinese. Giuliani's cell didn't ring (he did joke about it), so we couldn't hear him say, "Hey, youse guys! It's my foist, sekkint aw t'oid wife!"

Posted by: sawargos | October 22, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

aepelbaum confidently proclaims, "Whoever among Republican candidates has the real desire to become president, and is not accustomed to yield rival, would win over Clinton, if nominated."

Uh-huh. Suuuuure they would. That must be why Republicans are all PETRIFIED of Clinton. It's 'cuz she just can't beat them and isn't currently spanking all of 'em. With this batch of Republicans, Clinton can obviously win, and likely will. You know it. I know it. The Republican candidates, voters and strategists know it. I think it's funny that Republicans are pretending to have the interests of Democratic voters at heart when they urge us not to nominate Hillary 'cuz she just can't win. Ha Ha Ha. Sure.

Posted by: sequoiaqueneaux | October 22, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Billy RVN - Hillary opposed Operation Rolling Thunder? You mean the carpet bombing of North Vietnam from 65 to 68? Aside from killing tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of innocent civilians, its results were strategically minimal as the North Vietnamese began storing petroleum in decentralized locations.

Another reason to vote for Hillary. Thank you.

Posted by: robr | October 22, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

CM1515 screeches, "She is a SOCIALIST!"

GOOD! Maybe she'll reverse some of the right-wing FASCIST insanity that weirdo fanatics like you embrace at the expense of our nation.

Posted by: sequoiaqueneaux | October 22, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is very anti troops, when Bill was Pres she used soldiers as wait staff & wouldnt allow them to wear their Military uniforms in Whitehouse.

She tried to stop Operation Rolling Thunder also.

Any soldier or veteran who votes for Hillary is out of their minds.

She detests soldiers and veterans.

Billy RVN 70-71

Posted by: TwoMilesHigh | October 22, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey jaxas, what do you know about military in the 90's? By your comments you don't know anything. "...and national security (which Clinton managed well without a single American troop dying in any wars on his watch." No, no troops dying in wars, just in his conflicts. Never seen "Blackhawk Down"? Because Clinton wouldn't stand up to NATO is why we had such hard times in Serbia. And I guess his wag-the-dog bombing of Iraq didn't put the military in danger either. If "peace keeping" missions doesn't get military morale down then his blatant disregaurd for being a Commander-in-Cheif did the trick.

And lastly, your largest economic expansion in history led to a big bust that he conveniently walked away from. Bush has down a lot of wrong things in his presidency but give the man his due that he is totally the reason the economy did not go into the tank after Clinton left.

Posted by: belcharlie | October 22, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Forget about socialism, how about communism? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Here in New Mexico we get back over 3x the Federal tax dollars that we pay. Anybody advocating against that?

Posted by: dotellen | October 22, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

At least McCain had a modicum of restraint. The other guys were mudslinging away with glee at a woman who, if it was a fair debate, would beat any one of them in intellect and substance, if not style. God help Hillary because the right is warming up for some awfully mean and cheap campaign attacks. I hope the American people won't stand for a mean and meaningless array of personal attacks this time. We deserve better.

Posted by: brightbluegorilla | October 22, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

For one, it is not just republicans who don't like Hillary. Half her own party will not vote for her at all.
I have to agree with the one poster who said she is mentioned so much is due to the obsession and daily promoting of this woman and kid glove treatment the press gives her.
Even some in their own profession are starting to balk at the daily fawning of Hillary. And the daily snide comments by the press about Obama.

Posted by: vwcat | October 22, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The things Huckabee said about Clinton were really quite offensive. I've alwayas liked Huckabee but saying such disgustingly inflammatory things about what would happen if she were elected completely turns me off, considering how blatantly wrong he is. Spending goes out of control? Our military loses its morale? Someone isn't doing their job in the army if soldiers lose their morale every time a democrat is elected. At least they know they aren't going to die under Hillary's administration.

Posted by: thecrisis | October 22, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people, regardless of political affiliation, have to respect the fact that Senator Clinton BECAME Senator Clinton by ignoring the nay-sayers and keeping her eyes on the prize.
I am strongly supportive of Ron Paul's candidacy; I believe that we are headed toward economic disaster that will dwarf the current sub-prime mortgage crisis, and any prescription for averting it has to start with the Constitution. I see a lot of similarities between Ron Paul's focus on campaigning on what he believes is right, as did Hillary Clinton, in spite of the conventional "wisdom" that said it would fail.
I believe that just as Rush Limbaugh was wrong about Clinton not having a chance to be elected senator, he will be wrong about his insistence that Ron Paul doesn't have "a snowball's chance in hell".

Posted by: thirty3na3rd | October 22, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Whoever among Republican candidates has the real desire to become president, and is not accustomed to yield rival, would win over Clinton , if nominated. Democrats, and dominated by them congress failed to deliver what Americans elected them for in 2006. Democratic victory doesn't seem reasonable any more in 2008 election. Besides, Clintons are hated by, at least, fifty percents of American voters, including democrats, independents and republicans. These people, no matter what their party's affiliation are, would vote against Mrs. Clinton, and, therefore, the reasonable Republican (non Guiliani, or McCain) nominee would get his presidency easily.

Posted by: aepelbaum | October 22, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Socialism ( Unabridged v 1.1):
1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

a. Land use is decided by zoning laws and regulations produced by the government.
b. Retirement is controlled for most people by the government through social security.
c. Health care has a heavy government influence (Medicare, Medicaid, FDA, regs, etc.) that will only continue to grow
d. Education is produced and controlled by the government (good luck finding any 'private' schools that don't take taxpayer funds or are not subject to gov't regs)
e. The labor market is heavily regulated by the government.

Need I continue? Since nearly all candidates support this (and the expansion thereof), the question is not who is a Socialist, but who is the most Socialist.

Posted by: markbures | October 22, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Future President Hillary is out discussing the issues on Health Care, ending this awful War and ways to
reduce the gas prices and the Republicans
are making tired wisecracks about her. Hillary Clinton's name mentioned 33 times? Why aren't they discussing the issues? The repub contenders are awful! She will clean their clock.

Posted by: moore0808 | October 22, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

They better get their licks in now when Hillary isn't responding to the silly things they are saying. Because when she is the candidate and the Republicans have finally picked the lesser of their evils- Hillary will stand up to any of them and win.

Guiliani who has absolutely nothing to sell him as President except that he supported and was a partner with Kerick, represented Venezuela's Chavez, put the New York emergency management center in the wrong place so you saw him running up the street on 9/11 instead of managing the crisis, has made millions from the aftermath of 911, is using his campaign money to pay his own firm for security so he can pocket some of that money, changes his views depending on his audience and the office he is running for, is twice divorced and can't get along with his kids, etc. etc. etc. And he seems to be the candidate leading the pack- the others have just as much baggage.

It is going to be a great time on the campaign trail- Hillary is both more man and more woman than any of them- and smarter than the lot of them.

Posted by: peterdc | October 22, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

CM1515 needs to start taking his or her meds, since the idea that Hillary Clinton is a socialist is clearly delusional. Do the Republicans really think that they can win an election simply by spouting venom? They have at times fooled the public, but as Lincoln (perhaps the last sensible Republican) said, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Posted by: mjames2 | October 22, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to conventional wisdom, we Democrats don't think Mrs. Bill Clinton is a lock. This time in 2004, all of the Republicans were bashing Howard Dean before they turned to the swift-boating of John Kerry.

The one thing the Republicans are doing right is using the bottled up dislike for Clinton (both he and she) to arouse their base.

Reality check time, though: Republicans will have to do something other than promise to "stay the course" on the war (like, end it, already!), halt the ethnic and racial bigotry that pervades the history of the post-Lincoln GOP (immigration and civil rights), ditch the fearmongering and religious intolerance (Islamofacism, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-everybody who isn't Christian), stop shredding the hell out the Constitution while covering themselves in phony symbols of patriotism (flag pins, anyone?).

Republicans aren't the "party of the people": they don't hold exclusive dominion over faith and values (multiple marriages, kissing cousins, hookers and hustlers, wide-stance toe-tapping, internet porn and congressional page chasing, to name just a few contradictions); they are the real tax and spend party (they pay no taxes and spend like drunken sailors).

Don't look for another Clinton administration in 2009, but don't look for one from Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee, Thompson, McCain, Hunter, Tancredo or Paul either.

Posted by: jade7243 | October 22, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If Ron Paul is nominated with his platform of small government, and so on, Hilary, who seems to have dems nomination already in her pocket (it would be nice, if it isn't true, but now it looks so), would be voted out. At least 50% percents of this country's voters hate her deeply; and Clintons and their actions richly deserve each inch of this hatred; so, these people think that anyone is better than her and Clintons back in White House. They would cast their votes happily for Ron Paul, or other candidate, who never yielded Clintons or Bushs and really wants this presidency, simply because he is not Clinton. The questions are: Is Clintons influence enough to nominate her?
(I still think that Obama and Edwards or Richardson have their chance)
Is Bush's influence, assuming that he really wants Clinton's election, enough to nominate Guiliani, or McCain?

Posted by: aepelbaum | October 22, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I agree they are doomed, they have nothing to offer, no real leadership, just criticisms about Clinton and not even the real her either, just a straw man version of her. If they think that who ever the nominee winds up being is going to be able to debate her with these 15 year old, clique criticisms I think they are going to be unpleasantly surprised. She's had a long time to prepare and they seem like they are all still stuck in '92 when it comes to her.

Posted by: D0BRAS | October 22, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

What I was struck by was the relative ease with which Hillary's critics completely, happily, baldly lied about what would happen if she were elected President. Every single criticism they made about her was drawn from her husband's administration--his increase in taxes (on the wealthy, which they studiously ignored and which incidentally helped in the largest economic expansion in history up to that point in time), spending increases (which actually declined with the pay-go rules agreed to with the GOP Congress), morale in the military (which changed little under Clinton and had nothing to do with his own policies), and national security (which Clinton managed well without a single American troop dying in any wars on his watch. And, Clinton's one foray into using military force to defeat an enemy--Serbia, who had engaged in ethnic cleansing--and the nation building that followed that conflict, was far more successful than anything George W. Bush has done.

So this is what the GOP has to offer. A swaggering bunch of arrogant, strutting jingoists whose ideas are not all that different from he who shall not be named, beating up on the first serious woman candidate for President in history. And blaming her for her husbanfd's administration, an administration that was far more successful than what we have now.

Do these pompous, boasting, overinflated, egotistical, puffed up braggarts have any idea how utterly ridiculous they look to most Americans?

Posted by: jaxas | October 22, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Epitomizes their distain for women. I am not a Hillary fan, but that isn't because I think she is socialist (what a ridiculous notion, boggier than libral, I suppose) and the more the good old boys pile on, the more sympathy she will get with lady voters on both sides of the aisle. If you want a candidate that buys into corportacracy, certainly vote Republican. After that, vote Hillary, she's your man when you objectively compare her policies to any other Democratic candidate.

Posted by: SarahBB | October 22, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Re: Vietnam, Kennedy was the first to increase US participation significantly. I agree re: the Gulf War - a start of an unfortunate trend.

The point was not to trumpet the GOP as peaceniks, simply to point out how different they are now from where they were historically.

Yes, unfortunately, both parties are offering more and more the same, just with a different spin.

That's why its so sad to see someone willing to talk straight and point this out get booed.

Posted by: markbures | October 22, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

The pathetic performance of the loosers reaffirm what the US already knows: Hillary Clinton WILL BE our next it or not. PERIOD!

Posted by: analyst72 | October 22, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"all the major conflicts of the 20th century saw US involvement begin under Democratic administrations"
There's some fancy foot-work going on here. It's a stretch to say US involvement started with Kennedy (which is I guess what you're saying), not Eisenhower. (Unless you're claiming it's Truman).
I also don't see the argument that the First Gulf War started with anyone other than George H. W. Bush.
And of course there are all the little wars.
If you really face facts, you'll see that neither party has its hands clean in this area. US policy and "defense" of its "interests" has been remarkably consistent, at least since WW II, no matter which party is in power.

Posted by: jonawebb | October 22, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Hillary was mentioned so much because the MSM mentions and supports her DAILY. She is a SOCIALIST! I'm glad they put that out there for all to hear. The left and their mouthpiece the MSM are pushing hard for her candidacy and the other side needed some air time. GOOD!

Posted by: CM1515 | October 22, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The Republican leadership and its top-tier candidates are so out of touch with the principles of the party and the American public that it's shocking.

The GOP is supposed to promote limited government and limited spending but has massively grown the government and its debts.

The GOP is supposed to be for domestic defense and against overseas involvement (all the major conflicts of the 20th century saw US involvement begin under Democratic administrations).

The one guy who has the guts to stand up and say this gets booed.

They are doomed.

Posted by: markbures | October 22, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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