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Preview: Doubled Stakes at Tonight's Debates

UPDATE, 6:20 p.m.: Two new independent polls show that New Hampshire remains a very tight race between Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). In the Concord Monitor/Research 2000 poll, Obama leads 34 percent to 33 percent for Clinton and 20 percent for former senator John Edwards. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation/WMUR poll has the race knotted at 33 percent. Clinton held a four-point lead over Obama in a CNN/WMUR poll conducted shortly before Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses. The results led Clinton pollster Mark Penn to release a memo entitled: "Where's the Bounce?" In it, he argues: "New Hampshire voters are fiercely independent. They will make their own decisions about who to support."

For Republicans, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) leads former governor Mitt Romney 35 percent to 29 percent in the Monitor survey and 33 percent to 27 percent in the CNN poll -- confirming the sense on the ground here that McCain is surging at just the right time."

BEDFORD, N.H. -- Let's play two! Tonight at Saint Anselm's College in Manchester the leading Democratic and Republican candidates will appear in back-to-back debates sponsored by ABC, Facebook and WMUR. Republicans start off the festivities at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the Democrats at 9 p.m. ET.


Clinton shakes hands during a campaign stop Friday at a cafe in Manchester. (AP)

The Fix is -- obviously -- excited about the rare dual debate, and will be in attendance for the political and rhetorical marathon. I plan to file four times tonight -- halfway through each debate to give the Fix community a sense of how things are going, and then again at the end of each debate to provide a quick wrap-up. We'll do one big winners and losers post tomorrow morning, sifting through the highs and lows of the two debates.

But first, let's look at what to expect tonight.

It's no secret that the two one-time frontrunners -- Mitt Romney and Hillary Rodham Clinton -- need a find a way to win tonight's debates convincingly.

In the wake of Iowa's caucuses, the narrative for both Romney and Clinton is that they have faltered -- a tough storyline to change with just five days between the caucuses and New Hampshire's primary. Romney and Clinton know that tonight's debates are their best chance to re-write the script of the race; the state and national audience will be huge and, this close to the primary, every statement will be closely scrutinized.

To date, the vast majority of the thousands of debates (o.k., we are exaggerating) have rarely produced any real news, however. The cumulative effect of Clinton's solid debate performances over the summer cemented her position as the national frontrunner, while Mike Huckabee's repeated stand-out performances fueled his rise in the fall. But, overall, the debates were largely newsless.

(The lone possible exception came in a Democratic debate at the end of October when Clinton flubbed an answer to whether or not she supported a New York proposal to give drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. She gave a somewhat confusing answer that both Obama and Edwards pounced on to portray her as too political and too calculating.)


Mitt Romney is seen through a window Friday as he signs a piece of paper while visiting the Golden Egg Diner in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Getty)

Both Clinton and Romney need to find a moment a la Lloyd Bentsen's "You're no Jack Kennedy" line in the 1988 vice presidential debate or Ronald Reagan's pledge not to hold Walter Mondale's "youth and inexperience" against him in response to a question about his own advanced age in a 1984 debate. The very fact that the two examples we just cited happened two decades or more ago show how difficult it is, in the context of a live debate with multiple candidates on the stage, to launch the kind of rhetorical salvo that fundamentally alters a race.

But that has to be the hope for Romney and Clinton tonight. If they don't come out as the clear winners, does that mean they can't win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday? Absolutely not. The two candidates have built strong organizations in New Hampshire and are at the top or near it in all the recent independent polling we've seen. The reality is, however, that the momentum is clearly against them and they need to find some way to turn it around between now and Tuesday.

Whether or not Clinton and Romney can do that may not depend only on their own performances tonight, as at least two other candidates are almost certain to impact the final outcome.

For Republicans, that candidate is Huckabee, who seems content to team up with McCain in New Hampshire to knock out Romney. Huckabee has made no secret of the fact that he expects to finish no better than third in New Hampshire and seems content to do what he can to ensure McCain winds up on top. That likely means that Huckabee will jump to McCain's aid tonight if -- and inevitably when -- he comes under attack from Romney on issues like immigration and campaign finance reform. If Huckabee decides to play a vocal role in the debate, and if, as expected, he serves as a McCain surrogate, it could be VERY difficult for Romney to gain traction.

On the Democratic side, the X-factor tonight is John Edwards. In all of the Democratic debates so far, Edwards has focused exclusively on drawing contrasts with Clinton. But after a second-place finish in Iowa, he seems to be turning his attacks against Barack Obama. Coming out of Iowa, the Edwards campaign was insisting that it had taken down one titan (Clinton) and now was turning its attention to the other (Obama).

Edwards is the most naturally skilled debater in this field -- not surprisingly given his successes in the courtroom. If he does decide to turn his considerable rhetorical talents against Obama rather than Clinton, it could give the New York senator the sort of opening she needs.

The stakes can't get much higher than they are tonight. Stay tuned.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 5, 2008; 3:43 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama: The Movement Has Begun
Next: Republican Debate: The First Half

Comments

The CNN/UNH poll has some interesting results:

Change is favored over experience 61 to 29.

Obama is considered "most inspiring" by a tally of 60 to 18 over Clinton, and 41 to 28 in his ability to bring change.

Obama is 72-22 favorable/unfavorable, Clinton 46-48.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

WE MUST NOT HAVE ANOTHER "2000"!

This could be "2000" all over again... with candidate George Bush and his great feel good down home rhetoric of "we need a change in Washington", as he was campaigning against the better qualified candidate Al Gore. We all know the results, and what has happened the last seven years. Well, the American people won't be that gullible this time. Mr. Obama is a gifted orator, outstanding script, brilliant feel good rhetoric, great baritone voice for his delivery, but the rhetoric is all "feel good". Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times with his article on December 17th in his piece titled "Big Table Fantasies", that Mr. Obama is "naive". I agree. Hillary Clinton has a plan that will work to make the changes we need as President in our Executive Branch from day #1, and we have to start then, not on day #2. From Iowa, there are 49 more states, and Hillary Clinton will be campaigning aggressively in each. I hope and believe all Americans will see that she is the best person to lead our Executive Department forward as President, and not someone who is just well meaning, and who only gives us "feel good rhetoric", and quite frankly would be better suited as a Talk Show Host or Game Show Host on Network T.V. Thank you.

Submitted by Bruce - Common Sense

Posted by: CommonSense12 | January 5, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

On the Democratic side, I am actually hoping that Hill & BO will be neck, and neck, going into the Convention.

Then, perhaps, it will be easier to convince Obama to adopt a strong stand against illegal immigration.

The more than 12 million illegal immigrants, with the exception of their illegal known felons, are being given free reign witthin our country, on top of being plied with free benefits. They are costing American Taxpayers 100's of Billions Of Dollars a year, and that isn't a joke.

There is an existing Federal Law against being in OUR United States illegally.

There is an existing Federal Law against an illegal being employed, BY ANYONE, within OUR United States.

Our existing Federal Laws are not being enforced.

The illegals are acting with impunity!!

I want a President who will enforce OUR Federal Laws.

and also

BUILD THE FENCE!!

SECURE THE BORDER!!

SEND OUT THE NO-MATCH LETTERS!!

ILLEGALS DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO BE IN OUR COUNTRY!!


Posted by: buzzm1 | January 5, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

cam8,

I was watching on the internet and I find the format stifling and numbingly dull.

http://www.wmur.com/video/14986153/index.html

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

lylepink,

The Reps are so outtahere!

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

From what I've been reading, the Republicans are eating each other alive. As Hillary said on the 3rd, "It's a great night for Democrats!"

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This Iraq quagmire is not a war. The war was over in three weeks. This war has been won.

The U.S. has overstayed the mop up and policing stages.

The Iraqis should be doing the grunt work American young men and women are needlesly doing and paying with their lives while at it.

This lunacy has to stop.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

rfpiktor: Agreed, then lets beat the Repubs real good, give the "A Good Whoop-en."

Posted by: lylepink | January 5, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

As lylepink says, Feb. 5 is the cutoff date.

It should be pretty clear to places 2 and 3 the race is over.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

nicklan,

I appreciate where the warrior sentiment comes from, but I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that most of the major wars in U.S. history were fought and won by presidents who were certainly not warriors: FDR, Wilson, and Lincoln, to name but a few.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

lylepink,

Agreed, Feb.5 will settle the race.

May the best candidate win.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I am watching this from half way around the world, and my main fear is that there will not be enough Secret Service coverage for Senator Obama to protect him for the next 11 months.
It is hard to forget what happened to "our" candidate in Los Angeles in 1968.

Posted by: bjpmtravis | January 5, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

McCain is the only Choice for America, he is the only Warrior in the whole bunch, America needs a Warrior to Win the War she is in ! The War must be the first priority of America. America must win this War, That means McCain in the Oval Office !

Posted by: nicklan | January 5, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that Edwards will bow out after South Carolina or Florida, provided that he has failed to win a single state. Unlike '04, he won't be a strong second by then, but rather a fading third. If he pulls an upset somewhere, it could be different, but I suspect that he'll get crushed in SC, and call it quits.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

rdklingus:

Neither Hillary or Edwards will bow out anytime soon even though I think they should for the benefit of the party. I am convinced Obama is going to win this nomination one way or another. If Clinton and Edwards want it to drag out and get ugly then that will harm the nominee and the party.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Mark Penn wants to know where Obama's momentum is? Mr. Penn will get his answer when Obama crushes Hillary on tues with the spead of victory for Obama definetly over twenty points. And I'm going to predict Hillary comes in third behind the ambulance chaser.

Posted by: lumi21us | January 5, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

So is the consensus now that Edwards and Clinton should bow out and stop competing against Obama? Is it all over already?

Posted by: rdklingus | January 5, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

5 Feb 08 is the date [results] that I will be convinced, hope you folks will be too.

Posted by: lylepink | January 5, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

zb95,

Obama has ignited a spark that is going to right the State's tilted ship.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

lylepink,

Well, Feb.5 is not good enough to convince you. Or it is , or something. Again, Hillarytalk. See you in November, then.

Think British inavasion, 60's style. Think Tiger Woods, think "small step for man..", think landslide.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Hi rfpiktor, Yep that's the way I see it. I think Obama will do great tonight. He was superb today in Nashua. He nearly brought me to tears when he talked about what "hope" is.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

zb95,

I was thinking just that.

Obama doesn't have to win or draw. He has to show up and look pleased with himself.

He has nothing to prove, no ax to grind, no one to cross or be angry at.

He does have to show up, though. Can you imagine a Hillary-Edwards talkathon and the public not having the prescence of the next president of the U.S. to comfort them this night? It's cold out there!

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

lylepink:

Please go to realclearpolitics.com and click on head-to-head and you will see Hillary is the weakest Dem candidate against the leading GOP contenders. Obama and Edwards fare far better than Hillary. Hillary Clinton will inspire the demoralized Republicans like nothing else. They will come out of the woodwork to vote her down to keep her and her husband from recoccupying the WH.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

FYI:

The owner of Opinion Research is Vin Gupta a serious big-time Clinton supporter. He has been accused of wasting company funds to support Hillary Clinton campaign. I would not trust any political polling data relating to HRC from this company.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

rfpiktor & zb95: You folks have it backwards. Why do you think so many Repubs are supporting Obama in these early caucus and primary states? Easy one, They KNOW he is the weakest candidate for them to run against and beat. I surely hope you folks will support Hillary when she has the Dem nomination sewed up in early February.

Posted by: lylepink | January 5, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The pressure in on Hillary and Edwards. Obama only needs to smile and play it cool and ride the "Big MO".

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

With her much touted 35 years of "experience", Hillary shouldn't be having these kinds of problems.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | January 5, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Lylepink,

So, you are saying that the Ia., N.H., and S.C. elections are little pickings?

That is the Hillary patronizing "I know better than you, little people" haughtiness that has her losing this election, left and right. The little people are not amused.

The little people have a little message: The Change Express is huffing, puffing and rumbling as it sweeps little victories, state by state!

Move like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't Edwards have money? Donations are an indication of public support. If he can't get donations he can't get votes either.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

All of the attention on the 1st and 3rd place winners, and none on the guy who beat Hillary? Edwards performance in Iowa is the story that Big Media loves to ignore. In fact, the media ignoring Edwards is part of what makes his story the most interesting. He beat Hillary after all the press going to her and Obama and with a fraction of the money. He is the only candidate with an agenda for the middle class, and his people were the most enthusiastic in the primary. It is remarkable that he is not mentioned in a single headline on the front page of today's washington post. Not in the NYT's, the LA Times....nowhere.
When Big Media does mention Edwards he is portrayed as angry. They are trying to make it look as if he were out of control instead of passionate about the beating the middle class is taking. It is the same thing they did to Howard Dean.
Edwards sincerity is proven to me by the fact that he has been consistent in his populist message. The cost to him was becoming the ire of corporate media.
Little wonder why the middle class is ignored. Our representatives don't need to concern themselves with us because the media ignores our problem. If a candidate shows up who talks about the midle class concerns, they are ignored.
If people heard Edwards message they would vote for him. Proof of this is that he won last night. That was the story in Iowa.

Posted by: fishingriver | January 5, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wins in NH Hillary should bow out and back Obama. It nearing the time for Democrats to all come together and support the best candidate on focus on defeating the GOP in November.

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The signs are all pointing to a big Obama win in NH. Hillary is fading fast. Hope and change have trumped inevitability and "experience". Obama is on his way to the WH!

Posted by: zb95 | January 5, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope to God Hillary wins.

Biden and Dodd supporters are natural Hillary Supporters.

I hope Hillary shows again in these debates that she's the best candidate and the most Presidential.

If Obama or Edwards attack her, it will backfire on them.

Lets have a debate on the issues.

I'm sure the best woman will win.

Hillary is twice the woman Obama could ever be.


Posted by: svreader | January 5, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire will propel Obama to the nomination. Hillary may or may not win in MI, and NV would keep her alive going into Feb. 5th, but if she's drubbed in SC, there's no comeback to be had for her. She'll have a lot of delegates and plenty of clout, but Obama will have enough to secure the nom.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I doubt anything will change in NH, with Obama winning and then winning in SC., and then the dreams remain until 5 February when these folks awaken. These Debates will not change anything as far as the Dems are concerned, but watch for how the Huckster and Mitt play against the others in the Repub. This Huckster and Mitt thing will be the big story following next Tuesday.

Posted by: lylepink | January 5, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Clinton/Edwards need to deploy the erudite criticism that their supporters have been using to marginalize Bush. To wit: Does anyone else think that those ears make Obama look like a chimp? Also, use his middle initial a lot.

Posted by: rahaha | January 5, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Cam8, I'm surprised you say "if McCain pulls out a win in NH..."

He was leading the NH polls for a week prior to Iowa and now that Romney lost the wind from his sails and Huckabee won, there is going to be a huge surge of libertarian conservatives to the McCain camp. he's going to absolutely crush the opposition. I'd put $100 on it right now.

Huck has a glass ceiling in NH. Paul has a glass ceiling in every state. Romney has a higher glass ceiling but has been on the decline since before Iowa and is now only going to get worse.

Giuliani and McCain have the best chances in NH but Giuliani threw that away. Which is why McCain is going to dominate.

It's post-NH that's going to be interesting, as you say. McCain won't do well in the South. He'll dominate the West, trust me on that one (I've lived here my entire life) now that Romney's Mormon support will fade slightly. Mormons like fiscal conservatism as much as they like their religion so McCain will always do well enough in Idaho and Utah (though Romney's win in Wyoming today was interesting).

In the GOP, does the candidate with the most delegates win or do they have to meet a threshold, like in the general election?

Posted by: thecrisis | January 5, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Edwards himself may see a tactical need to switch his attacks from Hillary to Obama, but his supporters undoubtedly prefer Obama to Hillary.

If Dodd and Biden-backers break for Obama, as they did in Iowa, then Edwards supporters will definitely drift to Obama as their first-choice candidate's non-viability becomes apparent.

The not-Hillary vote, which was 71% in Iowa, will slowly coalesce around Obama.

I agree with aepelbaum that Edwards will get no traction against Obama. The two main charges he used against Clinton - being a Washington insider and being a Bush war enabler - won't stick to Obama.

Posted by: Bud0 | January 5, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

truth_hunter, I'm glad you have a blog. I do too, and it's fairly successful albeit quite young.

But what I'm not going to do is hijack WaPo real estate with teaser questions to try and get people to leave. I'm grateful that WaPo has a comments section and I will keep my opinions here focused to WaPo articles, or at least will NOT try to pull their readers from their site. It would be respectful if everyone else did the same.

Same goes for that youpolls.com guy, that site sucks and is infected with Ronbots. Please stop posting here.

Posted by: thecrisis | January 5, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Expect fireworks tonight. It's make or break time and the gloves will come off.

The field has greatly narrowed for the Dems, giving the remaining four (Richardson should call it a day too) a better forum to expand on their views.

Will the questions be the same for the GOP and Dems? Will Huckabee be asked about his conservative Iowa stand on abortion and gay rights in NH?... he's already trying to change the discussion in NH to the flat tax and states rights.

Let's see who stands up to the pressure....

http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth_Hunter | January 5, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is on the brink of a brokered convention.

If McCain pulls out a win in NH, nobody will end up with enough delegates to secure the nomination.

Romney will be crippled, but still come out with a significant number of delegates in the West.

Thompson and Huckabee will split the South and the Bible Belt (though Huck will come out with more).

Guliani will grab NY and FL, as well as strong showings in IL, CA, and MI. He may have the most delegates going into St. Paul.

Ron Paul will grab delegates here and there, especially in the CA free-for-all.

McCain will win AZ, and some more delegates in the Southwest and Northeast.

The Republican National Convention may end up looking like the Korean Parliament by the time this is over.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh, another note:

Paul is going to surge in NH, but not by as much as his whacky supporters would like. I'll even suggest the possibility that Paul finishes in third place above Huckabee. But I think Huckabee's support for FairTax will help neutralize some of Paul's support in NH, as will McCain's libertarian/fiscal conservatism. Whichever FairTax lovers don't want to support Huckabee and would normally lean toward Paul are going to take the lesser of two evils route and go for McCain just to make sure Romney and Huckabee don't get a surge.

Posted by: thecrisis | January 5, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"Her campaign has essentially been a "Re-elect the Clintons" campaign. That's why she's struggling now."

Yeah, like the people will believe that the swinging '90s will happen all over again.

The Clintons represent the last century, not the twenty first century. By dragging Bubba into N.H. she looks dependent and resourceless.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Rat - you are a racist. Please stop talking.
____________

Because I so supremely called the results of Iowa, I'll do the same for NH:

Demos:
1. Obama - 48%
2. Clinton - 26%
3. Edwards - 21%
4. Richardson 5%

GOP:
1. McCain - 49%
2. Romney - 18%
3. Huckabee 13%
4. Paul - 13%
5. Giuliani - 7%

Of course since NH holds primaries and not caucuses the results will be more spread on the Demo's side than in Iowa. But the wave of support for Obama and the dropping of Biden and Dodd is going to help boil down the field and keep the results largely concentrated to the top three candidates.

After winning NH, Obama will cruise through SC with a ridiculous margin (probably 70% support). I'll check back in once I crunch the GOP field :)

Posted by: thecrisis | January 5, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This fun analysis really covers the potential style of the debate, but says nothing about the substance that could change the race for any of the candidates. NH voters have historically rewarded substance. And the issues that they demand candidates speak to are, usually, pocket book issues. So: Is Huckabee's tax idea, for instance, a good fit with NH's anti-tax Republicans? Should he focus on that rather than throw his body in front of McCain for any reason? Should Romney articulate his anti-immigrant position in & of itself as economically good for NH, or should McCain state forcefully not just that he has a position on "winning in Iraq," but why that's the right course for our foreign interests in energy (& the way NH-ites pay for fuel) in the Middle East. Or, on the Democrats side: It's not that Sen. Clinton or Edwards can attack or not, isn't the question something to do with whether or not their positions are worth voting for. Differing between themselves & Obama, say, on health care is only going to muddle things, surely; all three want to change the way people receive health care in the U.S. So, fun analysis: But a deeper look at tonight's debate might cover some of the issues not just the style of the race. Meanwhile, the Bentsen/Quayle 1988 debate moment didn't alter the election at all: Vice-President Bush won that election easily. The Reagan quip about his age, well, that was vintage: You could see it on Mondale's smile-drenched face. The expression said: Game Over.

Posted by: db | January 5, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The entire Mrs. Clinton quest for presidency has been fully idiotic to begin with. She has ruined in the process her husband's personal life, her own personal life, assuming that she ever was interested in anything but power. She inflicted on the country current Bush's presidency with all its consequences, starting with 9/11 and further. She has done a great lot of despicable things, and everything - to achieve presidency, which she is completely NOT SUITABLE FOR. Really, the faster she is out of this race, the easier it would become to breath in this country!

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 5, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Edwards should fight Clinton in this incoming debates, as it would give him the second place. Besides, it is easy to fight Clinton, as she is extremely unpleasant figure at practically all points of view, which are important, but it is practically impossible to fight Obama, as all arrows are coming back like a bumerang. Edwards has already tried to fight Obama, and has not succeed!

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 5, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The media has a lot more to lose if they fool around with the Establishment nomenclature.

Obama is a real story, propelled by the people, not the media.

The reason Obama outshines Hill and Edwards is that he is the real politician.

She is a robotic executive on message.

John is a savvy lawyer out of his depth.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I am hoping this will actually be a "Debate",and not just another cheesy Question Answer session! The Scripted questions for a single Candidate gets old real quick! Each Candidate should have a chance to respond to each topic, How hard is that to understand?

Then, GOP, don't attack each other! Attack Obasama, Pretty Boy, and the Clintons! THEY are the ones with the Votes you are needing!

If anything critical about the republicans has to be said, feel free to blast the Dim Led Congress of the last Year, and how it has hurt the Bush Administration's abilities!

600 Congressional Oversight Reviews in 100 Days!?

Immigration Enforcement?-9Th Circuit, and Ninny Peloser stalling HR:1940?!

CLINTON'S EO 13166, Equity Loans, and Capital Gains Waiver on Homes Flipped W/in 2 Years, and the Subprime Mortgages abused to facilitate the Flipping!

Sic Em!

Posted by: rat-the | January 5, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

holzhaacker- your 4:50 post is right on target.

Posted by: bsimon | January 5, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Clinton's biggest mistake overall is trying to play the "familiar face" game.

Her unofficial mantra has been, "You know me, you can trust me. You know where I stand." That only works if people already trust you in general.

I was (and still am) I big fan of Bill Clinton. I admired Hillary for the way she stood up to ridiculous amounts of public disdain and scrutiny. But Bill's success was prefaced on the notion that we KNEW he was full of crap.

He's a politician's politician. All he ever asked us to do was believe that he'd do the job we sent him to do. We were never asked to actually trust him otherwise.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

New Rasmussen Poll: Obama 10 Points Ahead Of Clinton In New Hampshire

In your opinion is the Media manipulating the election by reporting biased information?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1449

.

Posted by: PollM | January 5, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Simply put, Hillary has not really done anything to shape the debate of this campaign.

Her campaign has put out relatively few (if any) new policy proposals, nor has it done anything to alter the focus or the tone of the debate. Her stump speech rattles off a standard list of Democratic talking points, with nothing unusual or innovative involved.

Her campaign has essentially been a "Re-elect the Clintons" campaign. That's why she's struggling now.

Posted by: holzhaacker | January 5, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

1) Edwards is over-rated as a debater.
2) Clinton needs to deliver a better than flawless debate and pray for an Obama blunder.

My guess is she tries for a knockout and misses.

Posted by: bsimon | January 5, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I have long WANTED to root for Hillary, but here's her problem:

Her campaign has done little to show us any thing new about Hillary.

She's campaigning on her experience, when nobody is really questioning it in the first place. She keeps citing things that people already know about her and has given us almost no new reasons to vote for her. We all know she fought for healthcare reform, we all know she is battle-tested against the Republicans, and we all know she was closely involved in the Clinton White House. Telling us those things does little to change the perceptions that people have already formed about her.

If she wants to win, she needs to give people something NEW about her...something forward looking. Running on experience is, by default, about the past. It's too late for her to claim the "change" mantle, but she can do more to show us new reasons to vote for her.

For someone with as much knowledge and capability as she has, her campaign has (unfortunately) been vague, cautious, and uninspiring.

I would expect so much more from her.


Posted by: holzhaacker | January 5, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I have long WANTED to root for Hillary, but here's her problem:

Her campaign has done little to show us any thing new about Hillary.

She's campaigning on her experience, when nobody is really questioning it in the first place. She keeps citing things that people already know about her and has given us almost no new reasons to vote for her. We all know she fought for healthcare reform, we all know she is battle-tested against the Republicans, and we all know she was closely involved in the Clinton White House. Telling us those things does little to change the perceptions that people have already formed about her.

If she wants to win, she needs to give people something NEW about her...something forward looking. Running on experience is, by default, about the past. It's too late for her to claim the "change" mantle, but she can do more to show us new reasons to vote for her.

For someone with as much knowledge and capability as she has, her campaign has (unfortunately) been vague, cautious, and uninspiring. I would expect so much more from her.


Posted by: holzhaacker | January 5, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is caught in a rhetorical beartrap of her own design.

It isn't her fault. She played her hand exactly the way she and her advisors planned. But the message that people are responding to is change, not experience. The question of whether she is really more experienced than Obama or Edwards is irrelevant, because it's not what voters are looking for.

Short of a significant and devastating outside circumstance, I don't believe that Clinton can undo what has been done. Edwards and especially Obama moved the show.

If he can weather the inevitable attacks from Edwards and Clinton, he'll win. He may even find that he has an unlikely ally in Dennis Kucinich.

Posted by: cam8 | January 5, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama is surging in NH big time!

The new post-Iowa caucus polls released today:

ARG - Obama +12
Obama 38% (+7)
Clinton 26% (-9)
Edwards 20% (+5)


Rasmussen - Obama +10
Obama 37%, Hillary Clinton 27%, John Edwards 19%

Posted by: writeava | January 5, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Clinton is out of new ammo to use against Obama. She can come out and give a solid performance like say she did in Las Vegas, but a narrow rhetorical victory without emotion won't be nearly enough to dent Obama's momentum.

Posted by: Nissl | January 5, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

She can try the "I'm your girl!" line.

She also has a nifty cackle she should trademark.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 5, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Hillary needs to put Obama in his place early tonight. She can't allow him to get away unscathed and just rely on her "I'll be a better president" argument.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | January 5, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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