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Fateful Minutes in Philadephia Dimmed Clinton's Prospects


Clinton ponders her future at Dec. 13 Democratic debate. (AP).

DES MOINES -- If Hillary Clinton ends up losing the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, she will look back at a fateful moment in Philadelphia in late October as the reason why.

Clinton has gone through six weeks of misery -- some of it self-inflicted, some not. Thursday brought one of her worst days. She was forced to apologize personally to Barack Obama and then accepted the resignation of her New Hampshire co-chair Bill Shaheen after he told the Post's Alec MacGillis Wednesday that Obama would be ripped apart by the Republicans over his drug use as a student.

Clinton's team recognizes she has little time to right herself or risk double losses in Iowa and New Hampshire that could mark the beginning of the end of her candidacy. As they scramble to put the campaign on an upward trajectory and seek to reassure nervous supporters and fundraisers, they have one eye cocked back to Philadelphia.

The final minutes of that debate, which are now seared into the collective consciousness of Clinton's advisers. Clinton's stumble that night has kept the candidate and her campaign off balance ever since. She has had to deal with a husband who has strayed off message, a mini-controversy over whether her campaign staff planted questions at Iowa forums, and an Obama campaign that suddenly found its voice after months of uneven campaigning.

The cruel irony for Clinton is that Obama had an equally bad moment in Las Vegas two weeks after her mistake, and on the same issue: illegal immigration. Obama was no more adept at saying with clarity whether he favored giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens at the Las Vegas debate than Clinton had been in Philadelphia -- and he had had two weeks to think about it.

But what happened in Las Vegas stayed in Las Vegas. What happened in Philadelphia did not. The question the Clinton campaign keeps asking is why? What was it about that exchange over immigration that it now threatens months and months of effective campaigning and a series of debate performances in which Clinton was judged superior to Obama and the other Democrats in the field?

Small moments sometimes have great resonance and this may be a classic example -- one of the most fateful exchanges in a debate since Gerald Ford wrongly liberated Eastern Europe in a 1976 debate with Jimmy Carter. Clinton's answer in Philadelphia -- seemingly attempting to duck and straddle at the same time -- became a metaphor for the doubts that long have existed about her candidacy.

For all the effectiveness Clinton and her advisers demonstrated through the summer and early fall, questions about her never fully disappeared. Her Iowa team long has known that, even when the polls seemed to be improving here, and while Iowa has always been her worst state, the signs of slippage in New Hampshire underscore that the doubts extend beyond the cornfields here.

They can be summed up with the words "trust" and "warmth." Democratic voters see Clinton as intelligent, strong, experienced -- all the attributes that her advisers say make her ready to be president on day one.

What they don't see is a candidate they always like or trust. Her advisers struggle to understand -- as Al Gore's advisers did eight years ago -- why the Hillary Clinton they see behind the scenes, a woman with a sense of humor and a nurturing instinct for many of the younger women who work for her, is not seen by the voters. The repair work is now underway and the question is whether it has come too late. Clinton's new ads feature her mother, Dorothy Rodham, and her daughter, Chelsea.

Her campaign message continues to aim at the concerns of middle-class voters, who are as much a target of Hillary Clinton as they were for Bill Clinton in 1992. Her focus on health care and kitchen-table economics speaks, her advisers hope, to the insecurities of many down-scale voters -- and to the middle-aged women she needs to turn out for her at the caucuses on Jan. 3.

Advisers to John Edwards believe Clinton's troubles began long before the Philadelphia debate. They mark the transition point in the Democratic race to the Yearly Kos conference debate in Chicago in August, when Clinton defended lobbyists and declined to join Edwards and Obama in ruling out Washington lobbyists' contributions.

The Edwards team continues to see both Clinton and Obama as vulnerable and believes the former North Carolina senator's focus on corporate greed and his record as a candidate who closes strongly can push him to victory here in Iowa. What they must overcome are doubts that he can win the nomination among voters in the early states.

What Clinton's team hopes to do is put the focus back on experienced and electability -- areas where they believe Obama is more vulnerable and she is strong. But she dares not risk a negative assault on Obama's credentials at this point, given the concerns people already have about her.

But she has struggled to be heard. The Obama-Oprah extravaganza, for however much it may produce votes for the Illinois senator, dominated the news in Iowa for days, obscuring all the other candidates. Clinton's problems are receiving more attention now than the case she is making for herself.

Thursday's debate provided only the briefest of opportunities for her to draw any contrasts with Obama or with Edwards, although it's clear that the Clinton campaign is now totally focused on preventing Obama from gaining substantial momentum in the week before Christmas and what is expected to be a brief lull in campaign activity.

Despite her problems, Clinton should not be underestimated. Her advisers see a fight to the finish in Iowa and believe they have put together an innovative ground operation that will turn out all of their supporters, including the many first-time caucus-goers who say they intend to vote for her.

Whether or not they overcome questions about her -- or effectively seed concerns about Obama's experience -- they will long wonder why a few minutes in Philadelphia caused so many problems for them and the once high-flying candidate.

-- Dan Balz

Posted at 11:35 AM ET on Dec 14, 2007  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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Hillary and the Jezebel Factor:

The article states:

"What they don't see is a candidate they always like or trust."

Hillary's problem is more fundamental, even existential.

She is evil.

And this is sensed intuitively by a significant portion of the voters.Balz and Broder published the results of their Iowa focus group on Saturday, December 15, 2007. A member of the focus group raised the issue that Hillary was evil.This was not an abberation.

This Hillary problem, called the "Jezebel Factor" (the wicked Queen in the Bible, 2 Kings Chapter 9) will erode 7-11% of her stated poll numbers in the caucus.

The Philadelphia debate fiasco is merely a symptom of Hillary's decline, not the cause.

Posted by: JaxMax | December 17, 2007 5:15 PM

I was talking to a friend after church yesterday who was upset about an article she'd read in our local newspaper. According to the article, young Republican males have been anonymously attacking Hillary Clinton throughout the mainstream media and the blogosphere because their party is so afraid of her candidacy. My friend said that until now she had supported another candidate, but the blatantly cruel, misogynist, sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton made her so angry that she had changed her mind and she's now committed to voting for Clinton. She said she hoped that other women would also rise up against the sick segment in our society that is completely lacking in ethics or moral values in their participation in the democratic process. And it bears repeating, Hillary Clinton is the best qualified candidate for president among the Democrats, and she's also the best prepared to fight the inevitable Republican slime attacks in the general election.

Posted by: ichief | December 17, 2007 8:21 AM

Can you get mesothelioma from munching through asbestos pantsuits?

Posted by: rahaha | December 15, 2007 6:49 PM


I am responding to the comments made by the Rev. Bear Jones.

"I keep hearing one word over and over in describing Senator Clinton: Divisive.
Every word form her mouth seems to bear this out and I fear how far she will take her natural tendency for making enemies. Will she get us into a war when she demonstrates to the international community that she has no diplomatic ability?"

Response: Our president from the great state of Texas get us into a war against a country that though corrupt and dictatorial, did not send 19 Saudi to destroy the World Trade Center and you fear that Senator Clinton might get us into a war?

"What will she cost us in trade when she tries to bully foreign interests?"

Response: Our current president bullied some of our European allies into supporting this war. Then the Bush administration retaliated against Canada, our great friend and close ally from the north who stood by us and fought with us shoulder to shoulder in two world wars, for advising us not to go to war with Iraq. You are worried that Senator Clinton would do worse?

"My biggest fear is the war she will start domestically with her personality and her policies. This woman has no social nor people skills and her my-way-or-the-highway mentality only serves to cease meaningful dialogue on issues where cooperation and compromise are required."

Response: President Bush is certainly affable and seems to have great people skills and yet he has not brought the nation together in the past 7 years. Did you see any compromises or co-operation with any opponents from the Bush administration during the years that he and the Republican congress controlled the government?

"If Senator Clinton is elected president, there will be nothing but warfare between parties and party factions and the government will come to a grinding halt. Everyone will suffer and nothing will be accomplished."

Response: So are you saying that President Bush made great strides in non-partisan politics in the past 7 years? That Bush had ever compromised with any Democrats during his administration? Name one issue that Bush even attempted to compromise with his political opponents or even listened to any of their concerns. And you fear that senator Clinton would do worse?

"When I look at Senator Clinton, all I see is hatred brewing. That's all I saw when she was First Lady and when she was elected to the United States Senate. She is not what this country needs. The elevation of Senator Clinton to the presidency will result in blood being spilled - much of it American."

Response: Senator Clinton won re-election by a landslide, winning over much of the New York Republican voters. If hatred is what you see in Senator Clinton, then why did so many Republican voters from upstate New York and from Long Island, those who mistrusted her and voted against her in the first senatorial election, changed their mind and voted to re-elect her during her second senatorial election?
Hasn't enough American blood been spilled in the last few years? Are you that concern that senator Clinton or any Democrat would spill even more American blood? It is ironic that the actions you fear the most from Senator Clinton, what you think she might do in the future as president, are unfortunately for our country, the very things that define the legacy of President Bush.

Posted by: tanv | December 15, 2007 4:17 AM

Unfortunately it's all about money. Knowing our healthcare system problems, and reading what Romney & Huckabee did and wanted to do in their states, I thought these two men would be good candidates. So, after they got into the race, you see them for who they really are. (Huckabee had very little coverage to speak of, until after the money started to roll in, and we all know the coverage goes where the money goes) I am on the lower end of the middle class. I pay plenty of taxes, but because of my income verses deductions, no income tax right now, plenty in the past however, up to 30,000.00 one year when I went disabled, and had to pull all my 401K to pay bills. I tell you, I do not feel the least bit sorry for those in the upper 9% bracket who are running for cover with the help of the lawyers, and lobbyist to shelter their earnings, and pay no tax. Those who know how to make money, have made money, and not just talked about it, as well as shared what good fortunes they have made, like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, have said what the tax code should be, but no one in authority has listened or been willing to take a stand. Now I realize, that if Huckabee is president, he will try to install the "Flat Tax", that means on top of the Arizona state and county sales tax, of almost 10% sometimes more, sometimes less, I would pay an additional 10%, with no way to reclaim it at some future time. Big business, and that upper 9%, with their lawyer friends, would find a way to also pass that on to me, and my family. So, for all the good, Huckabee is not for the middle class. Romney comes from a state that has had it's own problems with the way things should be done, be it tunnels, or same sex marriage. No wind farms off the cost of Cape Cod either. I won't take the time to talk about the others, they do a good job all by their selves.
Hillary has always been the candidate for the Democratic party. She could have run, and probably won in the last presidential race. I have always voted Republican, until the last election, as I had had enough of this Washington machine. I have had to find ways to survive, and pay for the healthcare, and the Washington lobbyists have tried to put an end to that as well. In America, you have to be well to do, or very poor to make it. The true middle class pays the bills. (The middle class I know are the ones making between $29,000 and $76,000) I have sat and watched as this President, and his cabinet made decisions to bankrupt this country. In January, 2009 they all walk away, and will say here you go, without a care in the world. Many in the cabinet, have got so sick of it along the way, they left long ago and let you know why. (Did you take note of what they said?)
Hillary has much to offer, she was the wife, of the man I never voted for, but will tell you, will go down in history as the best President our nation has ever had, minus a couple human mistakes. Though I never voted for him, I felt that way after his first term. I shuttered as he made his first State of the Union speech, and said boy, we are in for it now. But look at what he left when he left, and enough of this on the coat tales of Regan, who I voted for, look at the economy now, the market, trade, housing, healthcare, what I did have I have lost. If William Jefferson Clinton could run today, he would be a shoe in. Hillary has the knowledge, and the experience. Her ties with big business, the lobbyist, are the only things that bother me. She is for the majority of that middle class of which I spoke earlier. (Minus her ideas on Social Security, which I feel should have no cap) If the middle class gets out and votes, she will win.
Each of the other candidates, have good points, but can they win? We all have dreams, but how do we accomplish them in a Washington environment? It's very important to have good reaction time, as well as knowledge. We all have plans, but when things happen you have to be able to make decisions, and they had better be right. (There is nothing wrong with saying, "I made a mistake, and need to rethink, or correct") The thing all the candidates' should realize is they are being elected to perform a task for the people they represent. This is all lost, and in most cases, when in office the majority shut their eyes, and ears to public opinion even after they see 65% against their views. America needs a person, who is known, respected, and will see the rest of their world, people, and environment as important, but also see America as the very first priority. Hillary was probably told months ago, you will be the candidate of the Democratic party, and just assumed it to be true. The last few months had to come, and the next two months have to as well. They are and will be a test, as well as a learning experience. I do hope it forms her opinions, as to what we in America want, and the way she leads our once great Nation.

Posted by: dbwsr | December 15, 2007 1:13 AM

I agree a Paul vs Obama race would be interesting. Obama would need to adjust his "agent of change" motto.

Posted by: madest | December 14, 2007 10:13 PM

I think a Paul vs. Obama campaign would be very focused on issues and avoid character assassinations.

Paul has never resorted to such tactics, and it would be fruitless for Obama to try it against Paul's record of integrity. Just go to Youtube and listen to Paul's radio ads. There is no name-calling or ad hominem attacks.

Paul can tap 4,000 mothers whose children he delivered as character references if Obama tried any mudslinging. Paul's rebuttal to negative campaigning could be a cohort of African American mothers he served in his career as an OB-GYN who can attest to his character.

In light of Paul's stance questioning the efficacy of the war on drugs, Paul is not likely to make a big stink out of past drug use. As a medical doctor he probably knows questions to ask that would reveal addiction damage. For example, a question addressing several points would reveal memory impairment, if any. We the People can assess mental adequacy based on debate responses alone and ignore drug history 20 years ago.

I would rather see brain scans required of all candidates to assure mental health than pester a candidate about past usage.

The campaign between these two gentlemen, itself, could go a long way to unifying the country.

Further unification would occur if the winner invites the loser into his cabinet just as Lincoln assembled his cabinet.

Obama could serve as Secretary of State in a Paul cabinet, and display his unification skills as he repairs America's damaged international relations. His service in a Paul administration would groom him as a successor to Paul in subsequent presidential elections.

In reverse, Paul could serve as Treasury Secretary in an Obama cabinet to reform the Federal Reserves's roll in our economy. His economic expertise would be just what the doctor ordered to improve the future solvency of the nation.

I just see a Paul vs Obama contest as a win-win situation for America. Our history of racial division will be behind us and our future prosperity will be improved.

Come on, We the People, let's not allow such a golden opportunity to escape U.S.

It would be sad, so sad if we did.

Posted by: Scrooge | December 14, 2007 9:12 PM

FIRST IM A BEAUTIFUL MODRN BLACK WOMAN AND CLINTON NAS SEALED MY VOTE! IM ASHAMED OF HOW OPRAH SINGLE HANDIDLY HAS TUNRED THIS ELECTION INTO A RACE OR RACE ISSUE! THEN GET READY OPRAH, PEOPLE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF IT AND WILL FIGHT BACK!

Hillary is one of the most outstanding women of the 21 century. Because of that, she is continually drug through the mud, bashed, ridiculed and called numerous names; by ALL media outlets (men controlled no doubt) Osama's camp started circulating bogus memos and lies about her and now about her mother and daughter. What a nasty sick group at oprhabama camp! That's what you're voting for when you support the likes of obama. NO OTHER WOMAN IN POLITICS HAS EVER HAD TO WITHSTAND, SUCH PERSONAL ATTACKS TRYING TO HELP THE SAD DISFUCTIONAL STATE THIS COUNTRY IS IN! It makes me ASHAMED OF HOW WE DO THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY! She continues to with stand numerous personal attacks from men who are imitated like obama and Edwards. The media has not reported on her campaign or outstanding public service record. She continues to be attacked by any supporter that has a negative opinion about oprahbama. THIS IS A DISGRACE TO OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM, that the media types like oprah are selling the Dream yes, oprah has put a dollar amount on Dr. Kings dream.
NO ONE APPEARS TO BE INTERESTED IN WHATS BEST FOR THE US AND THE FUTURE SAFELTY AND HEALTH CARE OF OUR CHILDREN like Hillary Clinton does. Obama would rather run around and play the race game. EXACTLY like when OJ Simpson was losing his trial, the race card ALWAYS gets thrown in as oprah as done when obama was down in the polls. People use the race card because they don't want to be held accountable for their failures.
Oprah Winphrey and Obama are disgusting and so is anyone who would support the selling of America. If obamawinphrey would get the nomination WE ALL KNOW VERY WELL HE CANT WIN IN THE GENERAL ELECTION, THIS COUNTRY WILL FALTER UNDER THAT NEW REPUBLICAN PRESIDENCY... OBAMA IS HUGH MISTAKE FOR THIS COUNTRY, HE CANNOT BRING THIS COUNTRY TOGETHER, HE AND OPRAH HAVE DRAWN A LINE RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE, AND WE ARE EVEN MOVE DIVIDED AS A COUNTRY AFTER LAST WEEKEND DOG AND PONY THEN EVER BEFORE. Yes Oprah has power look what she did with it! She makes it difficult for another educated BLACK WOMAN TO SUCCEED NOW! I would never watch, read or use a product oprah endorses. THE WORLD HAS LOST THEIR LOVE AFAIR WITH OPRAH...

DO NOT VOTE FOR OBAMAWINPHREY, YOU WILL BE SELLING YOUR CHILDS FUTURE!

Posted by: dyck21005 | December 14, 2007 3:26 PM

Hillary's campaign up to this point is, to quote John Kerry, a botched joke. Avoid the issues, polish your sound bites and, above all, give out as little information as possible. You'll see my White House papers when I say you can see my White House papers. Kind of tough to understand why she's withholding them when she says that her experience to lead the country comes from sitting around the breakfast table with husband Bill. (By the way, where were you last night?) She got elected as New York's carpetbagger Senator by riding Bill's coattails, not on her experience or her personality. Now she's trying to use her Senate office to get into the White House. The point is, she has accomplished NOTHING and worked at NOTHING other than to do whatever it takes to position herself for a run at the Presidency. Combine that with the fact that she stands for NOTHING and will stop at NOTHING and Democrats have a clear reason to vote for Obama. I'm not a Democrat, his chances vs hers in a general election aren't the issue, the issue is being genuine. He is and she's not.

Posted by: OhYeahBabe | December 14, 2007 3:15 PM

kccarabillo apparently hasn't reviewed the polling numbers. Obama polls higher among Republicans and independants than any Dem, and this has been consistent throughout the race and the various polls. To suggest that HRC is the most electable Dem (or that Obama is the least) is in-the-bubble nonsense, a mere notion masquerading as reality.

Posted by: RicardoMalocchio | December 14, 2007 2:53 PM

I would love to see a Democrat in the WH in 2009. Unfortunately, none from our current crop of candidates is electable. Hillary would be better off running for Governor of NY and Barrack and the rest of the running senators should stop this charade that one can go from the Senate to the WH. Legislating and conducting oversight is different from governing.

Where are the really great Democratic governors when we need them. I guess they are doing what they do - governing.

Posted by: CntrvilleCitoyen | December 14, 2007 2:50 PM

Let's be honest here my fellow Democrats. The reason why so many African American celebrities and news pundits are flocking to Obama is because of the Obvious reason. He's the only African American candidate that has had some real substance and a real message. Where others have tried and failed, he's managed to succeed and his followers know it! No, i am not white, i am Hispanic and very proud of my heritage. Having said that, i realize that America is not ready to elect a non-white president and that is a fact!

Obama has a three-headed monster working against him. First, he lacks the experience necessary to lead this country and get us out of this mess Bush and Cheney got us in. Second, Republicans would have a ball blasting him and swiftboating him every chance they get because of his inexperience and anti-war views. Third, Southern evangelicals would mobilize their base from coast to coast against Obama and elect Hackubee or Rudy. They'd rather die than to see a Black man leading this country.

In closing, Republicans would love for Obama to get nominated because they know they can beat him. They are petrified of Hillary. She's their biggest obstacle to staying in the Whitehouse and they know it. This is why you see Karl Rove giving Obama advice on how to beat her. I believe a Clinton-Obama ticket would be very formidable ticket, but they way both campaigns have gone after each other i doubt they could come together after the dust settles.

Obama = Loss

Hillary = Win

Hillary + Obama = Strong alliance- ready to lead this country and restore is credibility.

Posted by: kccaraballo | December 14, 2007 2:48 PM

I admire Kucinich... but unelectable. He inspires less vitriol than HRC, but likely cannot escape the moonbat designation.

As I read the pro-HRC posts in this thread, I can only suppose they are written by either (1) Republican plants salivating at the prospect of a HRC candidacy; or (2) deep-in-the-bubble Democrats who are blissfully unaware or wilfully oblivious to her insurmountable negatives among the general electorate.

Posted by: RicardoMalocchio | December 14, 2007 2:48 PM

I am a sixty some retired professional independent that is disgusted with what Bush and the Republicans have done to this country....I also have a severe allergic reaction to Hillery...planted questions...carefully crafted straddle answers...triangulation...the art of the smear...since she has lost her campaign manager, Rove is not too busy right now and his campaign style fits right in with hers
...enough of this...we can be better...we should be better...we will be better...OBAMA for President!

Posted by: mcdcl2 | December 14, 2007 2:43 PM

Im sick of hearing about nothing but these so-called "front runners" Kucinich got muscled out of the debate yesterday and the media will not give him the light of day. He's the only one who is being honest about the high cost of healthcare being driven by the GREEDY INSURANCE COMPANIES, and is proposing to do something about it. What the he11 is wrong with you fools? Why are you essentially voting to continue the status quo, when it clearly hit you in the pocketbook and make you less healthy than you could be. Remember, the INSURANCE COMPANIES have an incentive to NOT pay for your medical bills, because it hurts their profits. WAKE UP!

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | December 14, 2007 2:37 PM

This country's political discourse has been horribly injured since the Republicans were able to pursue the ridiculous witch hunt against Bill Clinton in 1998-99. The Republican method of moralizing while lying became entrenched at that time. A Hillary Clinton presidency would be the best cure for the talk radio/Fox News cancer, forcing some long-deserved humility onto the Republicans. The impeachment process created a sharp divide, unprecedented since the Andrew Johnson controversy, that has impaired the functioning of government for a decade. The American people can see the results of Republican arrogance, from the Iraq war to tax cuts for the rich to countless intrusions on personal liberty. One thing Clinton can do that Obama can't is show the Republicans that the American people are tired of their neo-Pharisee posturing. Hillary isn't divisive; it's the Republicans who are using their straw-man version of her that makes bipartisanship more difficult. In spite of that, Senator Clinton has done a good job of gaining and using support from both sides to get legislation passed in the Senate. She knows how things work in Washington.

Clinton needs to start showing a softer, more emotionally open tone over the next few weeks. Seems likely that she can find people to develop and communicate a new message.

Iowa's progressive voters take their roles seriously, but they don't see this as a horserace, and a few percent one way or the other isn't going to knock anybody out of the race.

Posted by: lartfromabove | December 14, 2007 2:31 PM

Hey Armyvet,

We don't have anyone who fits that bill running for the top of either ticket. But how would you feel about Jim Webb for Vice President?

Posted by: JacksonLanders | December 14, 2007 2:21 PM

In my fantasy election which would pit Ron Paul vs. Barack Obama, there is one not so prominent issue which would make a great topic for a campaign debate between these two.

I like the issue that a blogger develops as a historically significant question about the future of this country at http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=2&subcatid=30&threadid=231153

I agree with the blogger that the proposed question for these candidates to discuss a la Lincoln-Douglas would have us all listening very intently.

Posted by: Scrooge | December 14, 2007 2:19 PM

In my opinion this article and most others like it are an effort to create news where none exists.

Posted by: wideblacksky | December 14, 2007 2:19 PM

I know of several Republicans who are considering voting for Obama. But for Clinton ? Never.

Mrs. Clinton seemed hyper at yesterday's debate, and she was shouting in an offputting way. What I sensed behind all that was an emptiness.
I think she's running because she does feel empty. The Presidency would be a way to shore up what seems to be her considerable lack of self-worth.

Posted by: vbalfour | December 14, 2007 2:16 PM

One senses that the drug 'mistake' pushes the campaign into a new phase. HRC has stopped hoping people will like her more than opponents. Now, she is going for the 'they will hate me the least' victory plan. Sad. It has been a long time since I got to vote 'for' somebody.

Posted by: twstroud | December 14, 2007 2:13 PM

Yes the American people are feed up with Illegal aliens and their supporters.

When politician start picking and choosing which parts of our Constitution and Laws they enforce then they are openly encouraging lawless. Illegal Aliens every year kill more American citizens than are killed by terrorist in the last 10 years combined, while raping, and robbing tens of thousands more. Both parties have contributed to this slaughter of our citizens and the impact of millions of uneducated peons and criminals pouring across our open borders. They are destroying our health care system, our schools, our judicial system, our environment, welfare system. adding to energy use, pollution, water use and driving our standard of living down. While driving up our taxes, insurance rates, welfare cost and tax receipts down.

Mexican and Latin American citizens have for hundreds of years lived in a society where corruption, crime, poverty, misery, anti-education and hate for American and the rule law of law is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same values across the border with them?

Posted by: american1 | December 14, 2007 2:10 PM

There is no such thing as an 'honest' politician. They are all driven by their p.r. people, the media, their constituents, etc. They make false promises & tell the voters what they want to hear, but never really fulfill the true needs of the people. The candidates have all been from somewhat priviliged backgrounds & wealth. What do they really care except for one more step up in power.

Personally, I am sick to death of people defending 'ILLEGAL' immigrants - what is so hard to understand that ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL, no matter how you slice, dice, or julienne fry it. Just ask any person that has been caught doing something illegally - cept, of course, entering this country & obtaining work either from employers that see a monetary savings from hiring them cheaply & know they can get away with it, to people RENTING their social security numbers to them. Which, by the way, is RAMPANT all around us.

I vote for NO party - I vote for what is put before me with issues, and rely on gut instinct as to my opinion of the person running.

These politicians had better learn to grow a set of ****s & a spine & stand up for what is right & not just what the squeaky wheels that need oil want.

The cowtowing these political pundits do is absolutely disgusting.

Time to wake up America, before America is gone.

Posted by: paredhead | December 14, 2007 2:06 PM

I keep hearing one word over and over in describing Senator Clinton:Divisive.

Every word form her mouth seems to bear this out and I fear how far she will take her natural tendency for making enemies. Will she get us into a war when she demonstrates to the international community that she has no diplomatic ability? What will she cost us in trade when she tries to bully foreign interests?

My biggest fear is the war she will start domestically with her personality and her policies. This woman has no social nor people skills and her my-way-or-the-highway mentality only serves to cease meaningful dialogue on issues where cooperation and compromise are required.

If Senator Clinton is elected president, there will be nothing but warfare between parties and party factions and the government will come to a grinding halt. Everyone will suffer and nothing will be accomplished.

When I look at Senator Clinton, all I see is hatred brewing. That's all I saw when she was First Lady and when she was elected to the United States Senate. She is not what this country needs. The elevation of Senator Clinton to the presidency will result in blood being spilled - much of it American.

Rev. Bear Jones,
Texas City, Tx

Posted by: bearjones | December 14, 2007 1:57 PM

The Lee Enterprises poll out here in Iowa that just came out today had Obama at 33% and Edwards and Clinton tied at 24%. Anything could happen, but it appears that the Obama trend here is continuing. The problem with interpreting the Democratic caucuses is of course that it counts delegates and not people and those numbers may vary considerably as happened in 1988 between the Simon and Gephardt campaigns. The Republicans jsut have another straw poll which isn't tied to any delegatge allotment but does give a more precise picture of the candidates real standing among the party faithful. A lot of the national commentators on the process don't understand the difference and confuse both new attendees in each party here in Iowa as well as the nation as a whole.

Posted by: ejgallagher1 | December 14, 2007 1:54 PM

Does anyone know if this website allows only one vote from an internet address?
http://www.whowouldtheworldelect.com/

If reliable, Obama and Paul are the clear favorites.

Obama vs. Paul would be a race of epic proportions with respect to level of interest of the electorate using internet traffic as an indication of enthusiasm for each candidate.

They are the top two at Digg.com also.

Which charity is Hillary going to donate her campaign funds to after she withdraws?

Posted by: Scrooge | December 14, 2007 1:53 PM

Sex aside, would someone tell me what are all the great advantage,eperience-wise, that H.Clinton has, over Obama; strip her of being the Mrs Clinton, and she continues to be stiff, scripted, and void of spontaneity;-
on Iraq issues indecisive and tepid, nimble on immigration issues, a trifler as a visionary, a coward in facing the opposition, reluctant to face controverisal issues, without imprint on international scene, promising little except to be the first female US president. And that is not much. And that much is not enough to undo, or even try to, what damage Bush's years have done to the country. So, Edwards or Obama; a much more promising Hope; with or without Audacity.

Posted by: rafael1 | December 14, 2007 1:51 PM

Re Mr. McDonald's comment:
"Obama can not compete with Huckabee's affable nature and experience, with Giuliani's experience and strength in 9/11, Romney's experience in business and governance not to mention McCain's experience in long time service for his country."

Are you serious with this - I'd love to see an Obama matchup with any of your professed "experienced" Republican candidates. Scratch below the surface of Huckabee's affable nature and you find xenophobic and outlandish policy proposals (e.g. sending 12 million illegal immigrants back to Mexico, quarantining HIV+ folks, etc.). Giuliani was a disaster pre-9/11 and it's shocking he's actually a candidate for president based on a one-day analysis of his performance as mayor. Romney is willing to take any position needed to get the nomination - even if his history suggest such positions completely conflict with his past positions - which doesn't say much for his integrity. McCain won't be getting the nomination so no analysis is necessary.

I like Obama's chances.

Posted by: mwalsh3a | December 14, 2007 1:50 PM

The talk-radio Republicans have been slamming Hillary for FOUR YEARS!!! It is amazing that she has been able to overcome their efforts to cast doubt on her by making false claims that she is a divisive, power-hungry, Washington insider etc.

I believe the Republicans are supporting Obama (disguised as Democrats and Independents) in an effort to get rid of Hillary, but it won't work!!!

You go, girl!

Posted by: cmrankovic | December 14, 2007 1:49 PM

richard.malloy is absolutely correct in his post. The GOP's fondest dream is that HRC will be the Dems' nominee as they know it will guarantee 4/8 more years of a Republican in the White House. If the Dems are stupid enough to nominate her, they deserve their landslide loss.

Posted by: checkered1 | December 14, 2007 1:48 PM

This is a good this that the Clinton campaign is having to adjust!!! They live by those numbers and her comment on immigration shows just how much her party feels about the issue. It isn't just a Republican concern.

Frankly I don't trust ANY of the canidates on either side. We need a leader whe is going to put the people of America first! That includes all of the classes. We can't continue to ignore the healthcare crisis in this country. Healthcare problems can bankrupt the richest of people in this country and isn't right. Our schools are a mess(no child left behind-unless you are LD or GT), and we don't need to have our person freedoms taken away, we DON'T have the $$$ to pay for every impoverished person around the world, and PLEASE PLEASE lets have a candidate who dosen't try to force theri religious beliefs on the rest of this country. I really don't want this election won because of the abortion issue. There is a middle ground!!!!

Please someone find us a worthy candidate

Posted by: Pumpkin31 | December 14, 2007 1:48 PM

samuelmcdonald,
all of the positive accomplishments notwithstanding for the Republican candidates you mentioned , the problem with them all is trustworthiness.

Rudy G.--Can Rudy be trusted with power? His pass behavior as Mayor of NYC and his subsequent highly questionable business practices has many Americans wondering. And just for the record Rudy doesn't have any foreign policy experience. Being mayor during 9/11 doesn't mean he knows anything about foreign policy.

Mitt Romney -- Can Mitt be trusted not to have an endless amount of epiphanies that causes him to change his principles? With the exception of winning, we really don't know what Mitt stands for.

John McCain -- Senator McCain is trusted by most people except by the Republican power base. He probably won't make it out of the primaries and this is unfortunate.

Fred Thompson ---Can he be trusted to even show up for work much less be on time?

Gov. Huckabee---If he is to be trusted to lead as a Christian Leader the money wing of the Republican party will do everything in its power to tank Gov. Huckabee.

Posted by: SteelWheel1 | December 14, 2007 1:47 PM

Obama doesn't have a chance at beating a Republican. Democrates better get their act together if they want to win this election. Enough with the intra party bashing. Hilary can win this one.

Posted by: njquintana | December 14, 2007 1:45 PM

No Thank You Mama - I'm for Obama !

Barack Obama for a better America
it's time to Rise and Shine again.

Posted by: PulSamsara | December 14, 2007 1:45 PM

I think it was Hobbes who wrote Homo homini lupus; it is very distressing to read the mainly negative political commentary in our print media. Many people seem to Hate Mrs. Clinton; I don't think anyone hates Mr. Obama. I listen with an open mind and heart to every Presidential candidate; is this naive or impractical or naive? Where does hatred of some candidates come from? Is it spawned by the media? How I wish for occasional courtesy and elegance in political debate. What I hear is 'too horrible'.

Posted by: hissum | December 14, 2007 1:40 PM

In my opinion, our Country does not need another Clinton as president. What we need is a battle experienced Commander-in-Chief that understands military readiness, military power, and the consequences of losing. In times like this, we need a Washington, a Ulysses S. Grant, a Theodore Roosevelt, an Eisenhower to name a few. And, we need someone who truly understands the consequences of a weak Dollar. It is time we started domestically mining silver and gold to back up our currency as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 1930's. Idaho, Montana, and the MotherLode of the California Sierra Nevada mountains lie in wait of the next silver and gold rush. It was the mining that brought the people west in the mid-19th century. Make no mistake about it. And, make no mistake about how important this next election is.

Posted by: ArmyVet | December 14, 2007 1:39 PM

Is this what counts for analysis these days? Reporters parroting poll results, telling us a candidate is in trouble because she didn't have a scripted talking point, and was caught in the act of thinking on a complex issue?

Seems to me the real problem has a lot more to do with how the campaigns are covered, how public opinion shifts overnight because of shallow news coverage, and how the standard of scrutiny for high-profile, moneyed candidates is much higher than that for those currently occupying the White House. The White House has recently claimed it supports, in Pakistan: an independent judiciary; free elections; free press. While they watch their friend Musharraf do the opposite. That has real consequences--who's reporting that story?

Don't commercial journalists and their employers, like their less compromised counterparts in independent media, have some obligation, possess any courage, to do something besides tabloid politics?

Posted by: omartraore | December 14, 2007 1:36 PM

I agree with Klees- this is a thoughtful, well-written article, but it says nothing about anything relevant to choosing a President. Why can't we have thoughtful, well-written articles on the issues, without the spin from the spinners?

Posted by: brianhaiti | December 14, 2007 1:24 PM

Let's imagine the worse case scenario for Hillary, defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire. I believe only a fool would discount that Hillary will continue to fight afterwards.

She likely will win in Nevada and almost certainly in Florida (Michigan, of course, is a given.) People like to say Florida and Michigan don't count because delegates aren't awarded, but they will count in the media narrative. The media has a stake in making this a race and keeping the thing going for as long as there are newspapers to sell.

Hillary people have been counting on the deal being closed in Iowa and New Hampshire. If Hillary wins in those two states, the deal indeed will be closed. But no one else has Hillary's position; she's the only one who can close the deal with those two states. Everyone else must continue to fight if they hope to win the nomination.

This is still Hillary's to lose. Obama is much further away from closing the deal.

Posted by: mmeyerdc | December 14, 2007 1:21 PM

"[S]he's the only democrat who won't seriously screw up because of a lack of knowledge." So, knowledge rather than judgement is key. Cheney and Rumsfeld, two of the biggest screwups in recent memory, chocked full of knowledge.

Posted by: lefebjo | December 14, 2007 1:20 PM

Hillary's downfall is because she has NEVER been a strong candidate.

Her "strength and experience" is just a tag line, invented by her PR campaign, and has no validity. Intelligent people (most americans) are able to seek out their own information rather than gobble up campaign slogans, and when they do, they see that Hillary's claim of "strength and experience" just doesn't have a leg to stand on.

On the Democratic side, Hillary has less experience than everyone but Edwards. (Hillary has held office 7 years, Edwards 6, and Obama 11 years) Her "strength and experience" argument is even more ludicrous when weighed against Biden, Dodd, and Kucinich.

Hillary has mooched off her husband's accomplishments, and unfortunately for her, that only takes you so far. Upon closer scrutiny, she is the empress with no clothes.

Posted by: julieds | December 14, 2007 1:20 PM

We don't trust her because unlike you "younger women in her organization" we are NOT NAIEVE.

hillary's opacity obliterates the words blabbering out of her mouth.

No, hillary, I DON'T know what you are for.
I DO know you embrace lobbiests!
I DO know you screwed up healthcare with a heavy handed, my-way-or-the-highway stragegy! And now you say you didn't have a "commnications strategy" !?!

How about telling the whole unvarnished truth?

VOTE OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT!

Posted by: onestring | December 14, 2007 1:16 PM

I like to think I keep up on politics pretty well, and I have tried to keep a close watch on both party races, so it's a suprise to me that Hillary has really gone through six weeks of misery that is really the beginning of the end. I just don't read that explanation from the events.

I don't dispute the facts, but the flub in Philadelpia was soon forgotten. Obama has caught up in many polls with Hillary, but this to me seems natural; with more people paying attention, the polls were bound to change/tighten up.

Posted by: adriennemichael | December 14, 2007 1:16 PM

I'm no Hillary fan but I'm sick of political reporters who put the "horserace" ahead of actual reporting. Let the voters decide. The political reporters loved Bush, hated Gore, and gave Bush every advantage. Now they're heralding Huckabee. I wish editors would assign non-policos to cover the campaigns. Then we'd get news, not self-promotion.

Posted by: klees | December 14, 2007 1:14 PM

What is the difference between "duck and straddle" an issue and "dodge and waffle" or "evade and obscure"? Are candidates to be gauged mainly by their deft ability to BS and fool everyone?

Posted by: jkoch2 | December 14, 2007 1:13 PM

re samuel mcdonald post above:

"oh please mr. fox, don't throw me into the briar patch!"
brer rabbit

Posted by: grg6 | December 14, 2007 1:08 PM

The Democratic Party has a difficult time with the whole "electability" question. As one who hopes, most of all, that none of the GOP candidates is elected, please understand this: Hillary is the most unelectable Dem. Her candidacy will be a catastrophe, and will give the GOP another 4 years.

Don't kid yourselves. You know this is true. She polls worse than all the other Dems against specific GOPers. She has the highest negatives of any candidate. She has a history that will be exploited, rightfully and wrongfully, by the GOP. Nominate her, and we all will soon be yearning for the "glory days" of the Kerry candidacy.

This stumble by HRC provides the Dems with the opportunity to nominate an electable candidate. And don't tell me you don't prefer him. In your heart of hearts, you know you do. Trust that instinct. It will be rewarded.

Posted by: RicardoMalocchio | December 14, 2007 1:07 PM

"The question the Clinton campaign keeps asking is why? What was it about that exchange over immigration that it now threatens months and months of effective campaigning..."
Dear Hillary and the rest of the democratic nominees: here is the answer. I've always voted democrat and never would have imagined to even consider voting republican. However, I am very much sick and tired of seeing schools and hospitals and everything else in my community being flushed down the toilet by illegal immigrants. So, now for the first time I am considering to vote republican, or, at least independent. And I am not the only one. Most of the democratic nominees' campaign slogans and promises are exactly the same, just worded differently. So, Hillary or any other candidate, if you want to distinguish yourself among others, you must take strong position against illegal immigration. That means: enforcing current laws, cracking down on employers giving jobs to illegal immigrants, deporting known illegal immigrants, securing the borders.

Posted by: Dura | December 14, 2007 1:06 PM

The media wanted a horse race and they got it. A horse is what keeps professional pundits in business. The ink wasted on analyzing Hillary's laugh could have been better spent asking the same questions about Obama that that they asked about Hillary.

Posted by: Friend1 | December 14, 2007 1:01 PM

Clinton's prospects were doomed from the start. It was only the MSM who were hot on her candidacy.

In four online straw polls, she consistantly scored in the single digits and never made it into the top three.

On the other hand, Dennis Kucinich has easily won every single poll by at least five points.

www.dennis4president.com

Posted by: kevinschmidt | December 14, 2007 12:52 PM

I think its interesting that everyone sees Iowa as a must win for Hillary. Doesn't she lead in practically every state thereafter? Although I'm republican, democrats must know that Hillary is their best shot at winning the nomination. Obama can not compete with Huckabee's affable nature and experience, with Giuliani's experience and strength in 9/11, Romney's experience in business and governance not to mention McCain's experience in long time service for his country. See a trend? Obama is simply too new to the game to win - his speeches are great, but he has nothing to quantify his claims for change. Although I would rather not see Hillary as president, she's the only democrat who won't seriously screw up because of a lack of knowledge. Not only has she actually been in the White House for 8 years as First Lady, but her husband was the best president since Reagan.

Although he might be eloquent and sharp, Democrats will rue the day they nominate Obama come November 2008.

Posted by: samuelmcdonald | December 14, 2007 12:34 PM

"Clinton's stumble that night has kept the candidate and her campaign off balance ever since."
...
"The cruel irony for Clinton is that Obama had an equally bad moment in Las Vegas two weeks after her mistake, and on the same issue: illegal immigration. Obama was no more adept at saying with clarity whether he favored giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens at the Las Vegas debate than Clinton had been in Philadelphia -- and he had had two weeks to think about it."

Mr Balz inadvertently exposes the clowning Heathers that constitute our high end political press corps.

Dana Milbank also hints at the Post's little secret:
"The 46-year-old freshman senator from Illinois, trying to topple the 60-year-old front-runner, never once utters the words "Hillary" or "Clinton." But the target of his stump speech is unmistakable -- and his derision is brutal."

Interesting Balz, Kornblut and MacGillis never convey that in their coverage. Is Milbank really so much more insightful? I think not.

Posted by: zukermand | December 14, 2007 12:14 PM

We all realize the last week has been a media high point. Hillary stumbles, we now have a race. I, for one , am happy with the normal tightening of the race. If Hillary & Co thought that they were going just walk in a take the prize, they where mistaken.

That being said, one must come back to reality. I believe that in the end Hillary will be the nominee. While the media, and you in particular, have relished in the Iowa horse race, one must look to February the 5th. On that date Hillary will probably have the nomination locked up. Once the race moves out small states that magnify Obama's liberal, and young voter based strengths, things will drastically change. The majority of voters in the big states that provide the majority of numbers for the nomination will not vote for Obama. They will seek a more seasoned politician, that will have a better chance of actually winning.

I am proud to see that Obama is taking it to Hillary. This will make her a better candidate in the fall when the race will get serious. Obama will be proud, and blacks can look at his run and know that he gave , as good as he got. But I for one believe
that Hillary warts and all, has a better chance at becoming the next president.


Posted by: jbf196 | December 14, 2007 12:10 PM

What's a few bad minutes in Philadelphia compared to eight wasted years in Washington, D.C.

Hillary authored book It Takes a Village. What does she know about that subject when she sure didn't help the village of Washington, D.C. improve its miserable public school system? Chelsea went to private schools. Why didn't Hillary enroll Chelsea in a public school and then work as First Mother through the PTA to improve the quality of the school system. She might have obtained real credentials to qualify her as a transformative leader.

This book and her abdication of responsibility to improve the schools of the village which she resided in for 8 years is proof positive she is a Five Star hyprocrite just chomping at the bit to take over control of Uncle Sam's plantation. You loyal serfs shouldn't expect things to improve for you. Just take a good look at D.C. schools' improvement while she was a resident there. Washington, D.C. is the Village of the Federal Government.

As First Lady of that village, why didn't she work hard during her entire residency there to make a lasting improvement in the school system?

I hope Barack Obama asks her that question in a debate.

Hillary's candidacy and her book deserve to be thrown into the dustbin of history.

I rest my case.

P.S. to strengthen an earlier analysis that the election of 1860 foreshadows the election of 2008 (see thread http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=2&subcatid=30&threadid=227812 ), it would be stunning if Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois is nominated by the Democrats to oppose Ron Paul. In 1860, Abe Lincoln defeated Stephen Douglas, a Senator from Illinois. It would also be fitting that an African American be the challenger against Honest Ron, a man of the same integrity to principles as Honest Abe. That would make for one exciting campaign that would galvanize the attention of the entire electorate.

Republicans I dare you to nominate Ron Paul, likewise I dare Democrats to nominate Barack Obama. Such a matchup would electrify the country like the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral on November 1, 1938, almost 70 years ago to the day of the election, Nov.4.

Go ahead, just do it! I dare both parties.

We the People, please make a Paul vs. Obama matchup happen. I would find anything else borrringgg.

Posted by: Scrooge | December 14, 2007 12:00 PM

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