Who Won the Democratic Debate? The Experts Weigh In
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
"I think tonight clearly showed that this is Hillary Clinton's race to lose,” Jim Moore, Director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University, told GoLocal. “Bernie Sanders had some good moments, but unless he was talking about billionaires or Wall Street, he was not up to her level of expertise.”
Hillary Shows Her Stuff
John Horvick, Vice President and Political Director at DHM Research, a Portland-based polling and research firm, told GoLocal that Clinton cemented her status as the party’s presumptive nominee.
“I think it was a good night for Hillary Clinton,” Horvick said. “She did as well for herself as any leading candidate can.”
Moore said that Clinton showed her foreign policy expertise well and was able to stack up as a progressive next to the liberal Sanders.
“On foreign policy Clinton was way ahead of Sanders,” Moore said. “Sanders said the right things for the liberal wing of the party, but Hillary was able to cover the liberal wing as well as she was and still do well.”
“Sanders will go far out to the left with passionate moments, but she always comes in and says she agrees with him on principal, but then delivers a more detailed, pragmatic sounding answers,” Horvick said. “It allows her to sound as liberal and progressive or as moderate and pragmatic as you want her to be, and that serves her well.”
Moore said that he was largely unimpressed by Sanders, noting that while he did show flashes of brilliance, they almost always came when talking about Wall Street and the financial sector. He said Sanders’ lackluster showing, particularly regarding Clinton’s scandals surrounding her personal email account, may hurt him in polls.
“I think he really missed an opportunity by basically shutting himself from ever talking about Clinton and her emails again,” Moore said. “It was a great moment, but if something comes out of that scandal, he would have to backtrack pretty quickly.”
Horvick said that he too was surprised at Sanders’ decision not to criticize Clinton more forcefully.
“Sanders and the other candidates really helped her out,” Horvick said. “I think there were opportunities for the other candidates to attack her and they largely did not. They had a chance to draw a stark contrast between themselves and Hillary and really failed to do that.”
Other Candidates “Dead Weight”
Regarding the performances of Sanders’ and Clintons’ opponents in the race for the Democratic nomination, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, Moore said the trio “should treasure the fact that they were on television.”
“I think they’re pretty much dead weight at this point,” Moore said, referring to Chafee, O’Malley and Webb.
Horvick said he thought the performance from the debates lesser-known candidates was “frankly, embarrassing.”
“This field of candidates was shown to be extremely weak,” Horvick said. “I thought at times that Chafee and Webb brought the debate down, and I think the party would benefit from having another strong candidate.”
Room for Biden?
Moore said that as he watched the debate unfold, he wondered if that strong candidate could be Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has been said to be mulling a run, but has yet to announce his candidacy.
“Although Clinton had a very good night and looked Presidential and like a strong contender, but there is no one who can fill that space if Clinton falters,” Horvick said. “I don’t know how Biden would interpret that in terms of his chances to win, but I think if Clinton were to falter he would the logical replacement.
Moore said that while Clinton made remarks that criticized Biden’s positions, he believes it would be a long shot for the Vice President to throw his hat in the ring at this late stage.
“Clinton did say a couple things were she was clearly taking it to Biden, even though he wasn’t up there. If Biden was watching, she wanted to let him know that she’s ready to take him on,” Moore said. “At this point, though, it’s really late. He won’t have the money or the organization to compete with Clinton. The only way it would make sense is if Clinton is the one to falter, and open the path for a Biden candidacy.”
Related Slideshow: Bernie Sanders Rallies in Portland
The Bernie Sanders rally at the Moda Center in Portland drew the largest crowd its campaign has seen yet. Upwards of 28,000 people showed up to the event with many being turned away and watching his speech on a screen in the spillover section.
Many Sanders enthusiasts who were present at the rally had choice words about Hillary. “Democrats are forming another branch – a smarter branch. Hillary represents the corporate democrat. I believe in the social democrat and so does my grandma who is 87,” said Brett Bottorff.
Photo credit: Hilary Devaney
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