Dem Debate I
Wednesday October 14, 2015
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Frontrunners hate debates. It is, as we have talked about many times before, the antithesis of what managers want in a campaign activity.
What they want is a high return, low risk, totally controlled endeavor.
A campaign commercial fits those requirements. They write the script, approve the visuals, buy the time, and know where and when it will run.
What's the polar opposite?
For a frontrunner it is a low return, high risk, totally uncontrolled event. Sort of the political equivalent of the way long-time Ohio State University coach Woody Hayes used to describe a forward pass: There are three things that can happen; two of them are bad.
Last night's debate took place with Hillary Clinton surfing on the front edge of a new CNN poll in two early states: She leads in Nevada (where the debate was held) by 16 percentage points over Bernie Sanders 50-34.
In the other early state, South Carolina, Clinton leads Sanders by 49-18; a 31 point lead.
Vice President Joe Biden (who did not show up for the debate last night in spite of CNN having built and brought an extra lectern in case he did) came in third in Nevada with 12 percent and second in South Carolina with 24 percent.
As for the debate itself, it has been obvious since the two Republican debates, that the three minor candidates on the stage - Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, and Martin O'Malley - are looing for the break-out opportunities that launched both Carly Fiorina and John Kasich as serious candidates.
In the early going - the first hour - O'Malley and Webb did well in the spotlight, Chafee did not. As the debate wore on, O'Malley found his voice and Webb sounded whiney about not getting enough time.
Of those two, it seemed to me that Webb, a former Senator from Virginia, was superior because he demonstrated a grasp of foreign policy strategy that exceeded even that of the former Secretary of State.
Between Hillary and Bernie, Clinton was by far the better debater. Her answers - at least through the first hour - were far crisper. Sanders sounded like a poli-sci professor teaching an early morning class to a bunch of undergrads who weren't the least bit interested in what he had to say.
Reports that Sanders wasn't prepping very hard for this debate appear to have been true. This is why seasoned candidates take these things so seriously.
In the second hour, Anderson Cooper led with a question to Hillary Clinton about her emails. She was obviously well-drilled on the question and the answer: Partisan, no one outside Washington cares about it, will talk about college costs, etc.
Only Chafee challenged her. When Anderson Cooper asked Clinton if she wanted to respond she simply said, "No."
No fireworks. So, Cooper moved on.
On the economic melt-down of 2007-2008 all of the candidates (except for Chafee) claimed that if the Bush Administration had only listened to them, it (a) wouldn't have happened and/or (b) the guys who caused it would have gone to jail.
Hillary said, "I represented Wall Street as a Senator from New York" which will show up in an ad supporting Sanders. Bernie said "Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress," which will also show up in an ad supporting Sanders.
The climate change issue didn't get center stage until the last part of the debate.
Who helped themselves? (In order)
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Who hurt themselves?
- Chafee (Should go home)
Who played to a tie?
Sanders (Needs to pay more attention to debates)
I think the Clinton campaign is ecstatic with the outcome of debate and will be comfortable holding the line on increasing the number. There is one debate per month scheduled between now and March and there will not be any more if the Clinton campaign can prevent it, and it can.
Bernie Sanders style is not designed for two minute - much less 30 second - answers. He needs time to go back into the history of an issue and walk his audience though what the solutions are to the problems he defines.
I don't believe there was a Fiorina or Kasich performance. The campaign is still between Clinton and Sanders.
Just as it was before the debate.
LAD LINK: Here's the link to Reed Galen's take on the debate.
On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: A link to the CNN poll of South Carolina and Nevada.
Also, a Mullfoto showing a deadly iron fence-eating tree found in Old Town, Alexandria VA.
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