Last night marked the 20th Democrat debate between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton, who has been struggling to revive her campaign after an 11-contest losing streak, was expected to make her last — last stand.
Clinton certainly didn’t make the knock out she needed in this final match up before Tuesday’s primaries in the delegate rich states of Ohio and Texas. But not only didn’t she knock out Barack Obama last night, she may have lost her little remaining credibility among Democrats by reverting to the Clinton evasiveness that has characterized the careers of both her and her husband.
Hillary’s shots at Obama were those of a tired contender. And her defenses were weak. When challenged by Tim Russert to release the documents of her time in the White House, Clinton delivered the same old response: I’m asking people to hurry the process. At one point she tried to blame the slow release of White House papers on President Bush. Tired, weak, unable to block a simple jab.
MSNBC started out the debate with an embarrassing comparison of Clinton’s recent campaign mood swings. Clinton’s crying may have worked in New Hampshire but her laughing, yelling and sarcasm episodes have done nothing but paint a picture of a desperate, claws out candidate who’s flailing, unable to make anything work.
“You know, no matter what happens in this contest, and I am honored. I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. ..We are going to be fine,” said Clinton in the very first clip they replayed in the debate.
“Shame on you Barack Obama!” she scolded in the next clip.
Hillary laughed off the comparison’s but quickly spoke of Obama campaign mailings that issued false information about her health care proposal that provoked her “shame on you” comment.
Obama made Clinton look peevish again by stating that Clinton’s campaign has “constantly sent out negative attacks on us … We haven’t whined about it because I understand that’s the nature of these campaigns."
Next Hillary nitpicked that she is always asked the first question in each debate.
"In the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time. I don’t mind. I’ll be happy to field it. I just find it curious if anybody saw "Saturday Night Live," maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow," said Clinton alluding that the moderators aren’t tough enough on Obama.
The candidates sparred for 90 minutes on trade, foreign policy, and the War in Iraq but there was no game changer. Obama remained cool and Clinton stayed irritable. As these debates go on (and on, and on) we learn very little new about the candidates. Hillary’s confession at the end of the debate that if she could change anything it would be her initial vote on the War in Iraq was the only new stance taken. Not exactly the KO that she needed.
When their campaign advisors were asked if there was any game changing or primary changing moment during last nights debate Clinton advisor, Lisa Cavuto said to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, “I think there was an interesting moment tonight in terms of her message… she positioned herself as a fighter she said ‘it takes a fighter’… kind of like it takes a village. She is the one who has the experience to fight for change for working class Americans and everyday Americans, to ensure their futures are better… this is a shift in message.”
It was Obama’s campaign advisors comment that “[They] didn’t need a game changing moment” that put last night’s debate in perspective.
Since nothing happened but business as usual, essentially Obama won last night’s debate. Hillary appeared desperate – still — and tired in the heartland. Obama did what he needed to do: he kept on keepin’ on.