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Hillary Eclipsed Other Candidates

Image: Hillary Eclipsed Other Candidates
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Wednesday, 14 Oct 2015 09:41 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Hillary Clinton emerged a clear winner from the first debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls, a panel of watchers assembled by Newsmax concluded.

As for the others, Bernie Sanders rallied his base, and the remaining three candidates on stage are probably finished sooner or later.

The group included Democratic operatives as well as political pundits.

While no one in the group ruled out a late entry into the race by Joe Biden, most agreed that the window for a candidacy by the vice president was closing fast.

“Hillary was very strong and commanded the issues,” attorney and longtime Pennsylvania political operative James Baumbach told me. “But she didn't discredit Sanders or knock him out. He articulated his points and didn't disappoint the base.”

The big loser, he added, was Biden: "The clock is ticking on his time line, and Hillary accelerated the clock. His door is closing.”

Baumbach, who helped quarterback the first winning races of the late Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo (when Rizzo was a Democrat) and Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Bob Casey Sr., said of other three on stage: “[former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln] Chafee looked like an alien, and [former Virginia Sen. Jim] Webb appeared confused and should not have been on that stage. They’ll both be gone soon.

“[Former Maryland Gov. Martin] O’Malley will survive, but he failed to distinguish himself from Sanders or Clinton except when he challenged Sanders on guns.”

Baumbach’s view was echoed by Robert Keefe, former executive director of the Democratic National Committee and manager of the late Sen. Henry (Scoop) Jackson’s  bid for the presidency in 1976.

“Hillary had a great performance,” Keefe told me of CNN's debate. “She is a good debater and had good answers to all questions. This was a good push for her and for Bernie, too. He looked as though he belonged and had good ideas.”

Keefe believes that “Hillary and Bernie met their supporters’ expectations as did O’Malley. The debate helped all three. It gave them momentum and they made no major gaffes.”

Carolyn Phinney, Ph.D., a member of the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee, differed in that she judged the evening a bigger success for the former secretary of state.

“Hillary Clinton was in a league of her own,” Phinney told me. “She more comprehensive and tougher. Hillary was presidential, and Bernie Sanders was a disappointment.”

Sanders, she felt, “avoided the touchiest questions about gun control and his pacifism instead repeated platitudes such ‘raise our voices’ and ‘bring people together’ when substantive answers were required. And Bernie came across as angry.”

Chafee, Webb, and O'Malley were, in Phinney’s eyes, “stiff, boring, lacking substance, and they put those in my household asleep.”

Political pundits who talked to me after the debate did not differ much in their conclusions from the Democrats.

“If you turned over from the Mets-Dodgers game long enough to catch the Democratic debate, chances are you saw Hillary Clinton getting a hit,” said Kathie Obradovich, the “Des Moines Register’s” political reporter. “She looked the most presidential, she had the clearest answers on issues and she brushed back every criticism. This debate was a grand slam for her.”

Obradovich noted that Sanders “scowled and looked flushed at times. His best moment came in defense of Clinton on the email scandal. He was roughed up on gun control and how capitalism fits with his ‘democratic socialist’ ideology. His supporters will stick with him, but I don’t expect this performance to significantly increase his poll numbers.”

She added that “of the rest of the field, only Martin O’Malley was a factor. He was able to list issue after issue that other candidates have proposed and say he’d already done that in his state. Webb and Chafee barely registered in this debate.”

Demetri Sevastopulo, Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, agreed that “Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both gave strong performances that played to their core supporters and may help broaden their bases.”

Like Baumbach, Sevastopulo concluded that “Clinton may also have sent a stronger-than-expected signal to Joe Biden that she will be a hard candidate to defeat.”


Of the other three, he felt that “while O'Malley landed a few punches, his performance did not change the overall dynamic of the race. Webb was weak, and Chafee spent most of the evening looking completely out of his depth.”

Sevatopulo spoke for others in the group when he noted “the overall winner was not one of the candidates but the fact that there was a real debate about issues — something that was possible because there were only five candidates on stage, compared to eleven in the last Republican debate, and also because Donald Trump, who took the last Republican debate hostage, was not on the stage.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
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Hillary Clinton emerged a winner from the first debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls.
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