Update: AFSCME Endorses Hillary:
This is no time to take chances. We need someone who knows how to fight and knows how to win. Sisters and Brothers, Senator Clinton is a seasoned fighter. Believe me, she knows how to fight and she knows how to win.
Some of you may have seen last night’s debate.
Six guys against Hillary.
I’d call that a fair fight.
This is one strong woman.
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience to make change happen.
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience who will always stand up for working Americans.
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience to take on the Republicans in the fall.
This is the Democrat who can win the White House in 2008.
The circus came to town last night. There was an overweight clown and some toothless lions chasing a plucky blond lady around the circus tent. The plucky blond lady took her belt off and used it as a whip. Soon the lions were jumping through hoops for the plucky blond lady. The audience loved her. The audience booed the overweight clown.
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Republican loathing for Hillary Clinton used to be viewed as her Achilles’ heel.
But Tuesday night in Philadelphia, she wore Republican hate as a badge of honor, fending off her Democratic rivals’ sharpest attacks yet by casting herself as a kind of partisan warrior queen.
Barack Obama, pressed for weeks by his donors and by the media to take on Clinton more directly, came out swinging against her, moving from uncertainty to a more confident criticism.
Obama joined his Ripublican buddies and attacked Hillary on the basis that — Ripublicans attack Hillary, therefore she is to blame for partisan bickering:
“Part of the reason Republicans are obsessed with you, Hillary, is I think that’s a fight they’re very comfortable having,” he responded, adding that “what we don’t need is another eight years of bickering.”
John Edwards joined Obama in attacking Hillary:
John Edwards kept up the pressure most skillfully on Clinton, putting his courtroom skills to use to build a case, at times mockingly, against the New York senator.
After almost two hours of largely fruitless sparring with Clinton, accusing her of “double-talk,” Edwards drove his point home when she refused to say whether she supports New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.
“Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No,” Clinton said.
“But do I understand the sense of real desperation of trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York, we want to know who is in New York, we want people to come out of the shadows.”
“Unless I missed something, Sen. Clinton said two different things in the course of two minutes,” he said.
Obama said he supports the plan. An Edwards aide, Mark Kornblau, said after the debate that Edwards also supported the plan.
Was Hillary obtuse or fudging or lying or unclear on the drivers license issue? Let’s go to the videotape:
Hillary, after a back and forth with Dodd, explained that there is a problem with having people driving on American roads who cannot legally now get licensed to drive. Hillary explained the 3 tiered system Governor Spitzer will implement to try to get a solution to a difficult problem. Did Hillary think the original Spitzer plan to provide outright licenses was a good idea – No, but she understood Governor Spitzer’s motivation for trying to do something about a problem the federal government has failed to address. Edwards had the vapors with Hillary’s reply.
Clinton, positioned in the middle of the stage with a row of men in suits on each side, turned to her left to listen to Edwards and her right to hear Obama.
She largely responded calmly, diminishing the policy differences between the candidates.
When Edwards tried to draw a difference between his plan to fight terror in the Middle East and hers to run combat missions against Al Qaeda in Iraq, she dismissed the gap as “semantic.”
The constant attacks on Hillary drew Governor Richardson to disgust:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, for his part, came to Clinton’s defense.
“You know what I’m hearing here — I’m hearing this holier-than-thou attitude toward Sen. Clinton … close to personal attacks that we don’t need,” he said. “I think it’s important that we save the ammunition for the Republicans.”
The “holier-than-thou” attitude was also lampooned by Dennis Kucinich who mocked hedge fund Edwards for daring to attack Hillary on taking lobbyist money.
The New York Times also noted the attacks on plucky Hillary:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York came under withering attack from the rest of the Democratic presidential field last night in a pitched two-hour debate that her opponents used to challenge her candor and electability and to portray her as enabling President Bush to prepare for an invasion of Iran.
It was the seventh time the candidates had met and it was strikingly different in tone from any of the prior debates. At times, it seemed that Mrs. Clinton was parrying criticism from every corner of the stage, reflecting the vulnerabilities that come from being a high-visibility candidate who has built large leads in national polls with just two months to go until the first vote.
Mrs. Clinton was attacked for not offering specific plans on what she might do with Social Security. She was challenged for voting to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization. She was assailed at one moment as being disingenuous, the next as a symbol of tired Washington establishment and the next for being unelectable.
Obama, for all his promises, did not manage to eclipse Edwards in being the most vicious in attacking Hillary:
But for all the attention Mr. Obama drew to himself coming into the debate, he was frequently overshadowed by former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who — speaking more intensely — repeatedly challenged Mrs. Clinton’s credentials and credibility, and frequently seemed to make the case against Mrs. Clinton that Mr. Obama had promised to make.
The Times even managed to notice the ugly role of the moderators:
Mrs. Clinton walked into the debate expecting to be the target of attacks but as the night went on, she appeared surprised by the intensity as she was challenged not only by her opponents but by the moderators, Brian Williams and Tim Russert of NBC. [snip]
In an exchange with Mr. Russert, arguably her third toughest opponent on the stage, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly declined to say whether she would push the National Archives to release correspondence from Mrs. Clinton to Mr. Clinton in the White House when he was president. Mr. Russert held up a copy of a letter from Mr. Clinton asking the Archives not to release any of those documents until 2012.
“Well, that’s not my decision to make,” she said. “And I don’t believe that any president or first lady has. But certainly we’ll move as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits.”
Hillary crushed Obama on his much trumpeted Social Security attacks. At one point Hillary pointedly noted that “Republican Talking Points” would not be parroted by her – a clear allusion to Ripublican loving Obama.
The L.A. Times sums up the results of the debate. Before the debate, the consensus was that Obama needed to salvage his sunken campaign with a clear win and strong damage inducing attacks on Hillary. Obama proved himself a failure yet again. Even the petulant John Edwards outshone Obama in assertiveness:
Trailing in national polls and with supporters growing restless, Barack Obama challenged Hillary Rodham Clinton’s electability and candor in a spirited Tuesday night debate. But he failed to rattle the front-runner or do much, it seemed, to shake up the Democratic race.
Under fire from the first question — an invitation for Obama to take a shot at Clinton — the New York senator smiled through most of the two-hour session, often seconding the views of others on stage and joining the laughter during an attack on Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani.
The toothless lions and the clown were unhappy last night. The plucky blonde lady was amazing on the flying trapeze.