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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,309

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Tuesday was a good night for both Hillary and Bernie

Both of them accomplished what they needed to last night, each in their own ways. And each of them needed very different things last night, aside from the obvious of course, which was to build and solidify support for their campaigns. They both did that. If this were the final Democratic debate I would say that Hilary "won" on the strength of her skill as a debater coupled with a performance that showed some spark along with substance. It wasn't the last debate though, we are still at the front end of this process, and for that reason I think Bernie gained as much, if not more so, as Hillary did.

There is no one who is currently still an active player on the purely political stage who is as experienced and accomplished at that art than Hillary Clinton is. Whether or not she measures up to the previous bench marks set by her own husband or Barack Obama is moot. They no longer are running for any offices. It's like comparing those great Yankee baseball teams of yesterday to whoever wins this years World Series. Those Yankee teams no longer take the field. Hillary is still on it. The last time Hillary ran for president she was caught flat footed at the beginning by an exceptionally talented insurgent adversary in Barack Obama After a rocky start though she regrouped and came back strong fighting tooth and nail to the very end of an extremely competitive race. Some people had forgotten how tough she became in the second half of that campaign.

Increasingly the media and "political observers" had become critical of Hillary's current chops. Last night they were on full display. She needed that moment, she got it, and she used it well. In areas where she is intrinsically strong among Democratic base voters, such as women's reproductive rights and gun safety, she showcased those strengths powerfully. In areas where her positions have more been called into question, like her willingness to stand up to Wall Street and her judgment regarding war and peace, she generally put her best foot forward given the record she has to defend. Hillary has been on stages like the one she stood on last night many times before, and the poise that comes with practice augmented her formidable strengths. She answered those who murmur that her skills are slipping, and tacked to the left as skillfully as reality would allow to soften distinctions drawn between her and her main opponent, Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders came into last night's debate with a different set of challenges. Until quite recently dismissed as a mere gadfly on the left, his frame of reference has radically shifted. Bernie had to stand virtually shoulder to shoulder with a long time heir apparent to the American Presidency and show why he belonged in that picture. Hillary Clinton has stood there for a very long time, Bernie not only is new to most of the American people, it is new to Bernie also to occupy that position. By all accounts, that takes some getting used to. Whereas Hillary found herself needing to reassure people that she could still play at the top of her game, Bernie had to assure people that he belonged in this game at that level. He needed to project a strong presence. He needed to validate the polling that consistently has shown that it is Bernie Sanders, not Joe Biden or some mythical TBA Al Gore type White Knight waiting in the wings, who is Hillary Clinton's foremost challenger for the Democratic Party's nomination for President. Bernie did all that and more.

We all know the look of an also ran. On the Republican side we see that in a Rick Perry, in a Scott Walker, in a Rand Paul. These men all once had serious national buzz behind them, but they collectively fell on their faces. Bernie Sanders could have begun sliding into those ranks had he melted on that stage last night, had he come off more like Lincoln Chaffee, or been as ultimately forgettable as Martin O'Malley was in the afterglow of that debate. O'Mallley didn't so much have a bad night, but he had a bad outcome. He failed to steal any measurable thunder on the left from Bernie Sanders, and that was what he needed to do. With his passionate impromptu comments about Hillay's "damn emails" alone, Bernie left a more indelible mark on the American political psyche than the sum total of everything O'Malley, Chaffee, and Webb had to say during the entire debate.

Hard core Democratic base political activists have followed Bernie Sanders closely for months, if not years, now. They are used to weighing him seriously as an alternative to Hillary Clinton for the American Presidency. Most Democratic voters are not, but that process began in earnest last night in front of millions of live viewers. Bernie didn't so much need to win them over last night as he needed to win their interest in him, and that is a mission now accomplished. His blunt straight forward no hold bars focus on issues that matter to Americans, his unvarnished diagnosis of what ails America today, and his bold prescriptions for a healthier future for the vast majority of American citizens, still sounds startlingly fresh, even unsettling to most ears. But there was no denying Bernie's strong presence on that stage, his authenticity and the strength of his convictions. Internet searches about Bernie soared during and after the debate, and they weren't emanating from those already familiar with him.

There are at least 5 more debates remaining. Both teams have time to huddle now and fine tune their messages, making adjustments as needed in delivery. Last night was a restoration moment for Hillary Clinton and a break through moment for Bernie Sanders. They both have emerged well positioned to continue the fight.

I prefer Hillary over Bernie on Guns. I prefer Bernie over Hillary for President

That's because I prefer Bernie over Hillary on most bedrock issues that are important to me. It' really not that complicated. In my book Bernie gets a passing grade on tightening up common sense gun safety laws and Hillary gets a passing grade on caring about the Middle Class. Hillary is clearly stronger on gun safety issues but Bernie still backs the improvements that are most likely to make it through any Congress in the foreseeable near term future. Bernie knocks it out of the park however for me on economic issues while Hillary merely hits a single. I trust Bernie more on foreign policy also. Both would be fine on social issues with just minor variations separating them.

Bottom line - Bernie has my strong support in the primaries. And either Bernie or Hillary or "Uncle Joe" for that matter would have my strong support over any Republican running for President. To me it is that simple.
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