Tonight, the Democratic field (as well as moderator Tim Russert) finally engaged Hillary Clinton with success. Our early thoughts: The winners of the debate were Obama and Edwards, who repeatedly drew contrasts with Clinton and criticized her political pandering. One perfect example occurred during the debate, when Clinton refused to be pinned down on a question regarding giving driving licenses to illegal immigrants. Edwards commented, “Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of two minutes”, and Obama nodded in agreement. The best line of the night went to Joe Biden, who characterized Rudy Giuliani’s sentences as such: a noun, a verb, and 9/11. Also, congratulations to Tim Russert, an excellent moderator who pressed for answers and clearly did his research.
Coming into the debate with a large bulls-eye on her back, Clinton was evasive at times and appeared rattled. In the first debate in which she underwent heavy criticism, Clinton turned in an unimpressive performance. Another flip-flopping moment happened during the Social Security round, when Russert brought up differences between her public and private statements. The victim of post-debate coverage had to be Dennis Kucinich, who claimed to have sighted an UFO. On the MSNBC analysis, Chris Matthews kept coming back to the UFO reference, lampooning the Ohio congressman.
We’ll have a more complete analysis tomorrow, these are just preliminary thoughts. Who do you think won? And why?