Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Question 1

Straight out of the gate, Hillary is asked about the difference in tone between the candidates' love fest last week and her temper tantrum on Saturday. She is talking about the "tactics" used by Obama's campaign and calls them "disturbing."

"It's important that you stand up for yourself," she said. She says "it's unfortunate" that Obama says she would require people to have health care even if they can't afford it.

Hillary is taking care to maintain an even tone during her response. This is key to her not sounding too strident while challenging Obama.

Here's the question about the Clinton campaign leaking the Obama-Africa picture. She is asked to state unequivocally whether her campaign is responsible for the leak.

"We have no evidence of where it came from," she said, adding that she believes it is clear from previous similar incidents how she would respond if it was shown that her people were responsible (she has fired or accepted the resignations of people who have done similar things, attacking Obama outside the auspices of the campaign).

Obama plays the statesman and addresses the hot topic of the picture with one sentence, saying that he takes her at her word and he leaves it at that. This is a brilliant strategy because it completely takes the wind out of the sail on the issue while allowing him to stay above the fray.

Now he's on to health care ... they are back to the same points they bickered about for three questions on Thursday.

Obama seems to suggest that Clinton "whines" about tough politics. That was kind of funny.

I appreciate that health care is one of the biggest issues in the campaign, but this kind of wonkishness doesn't help the average voter at all. Ten of the first 13 minutes of this debate are lost to details that are causing average voters to tune out right now. Make the broad point and move on.

Here goes Hillary again. Let it go, Hillary. Make the point and let it go. She is closing in on the strident tone. It makes her go from sounding intelligent on the issue to just plain stubborn ... which is unfortunate, because she really is very well versed on this issue -- perhaps she is the most well-versed politician in this issue in the country today. It's too bad that that's being lost in her mismanagement of this issue in the debates.

Obama is missing an opportunity to make her look worse and make himself look better by continuing to respond.

Candidates, there's a lesson in this mess you're watching now: You don't always have to have the last word -- just the best one.