Hillary Gets Worst Reviews Yet

Amanda Carpenter

10/31/2007 9:51:31 AM - Amanda Carpenter

The usual flood of editorials and blog posts after a major presidential debate were particularly harsh on Hillary Clinton this morning following Tuesday night’s Democratic debate at Drexel University.

Opinion leaders said her performance reinforced negative stereotypes that Clinton is shrill, calculating and evasive.

Here’s a round up of what some of those opinion leaders are saying:

Mark Halperin, Time Magazine - [She] fell off the tough-shrill balance beam onto the "shrill" side — with a THUD. More defensive than usual, and at times too political and too hot tempered. Borderline disastrous moment at the end when she gave an equivocal answer about drivers licenses for illegal immigrants in New York; it opened the door for her opponents to pounce by turning it into a character issue — and pounce they did. The failure of her performance was cumulative, however, so only those watching the whole debate would see how weak her evening was. If she loses the nomination, tonight will go down in history as the first step to her defeat — no fatal "Dean Scream" catastrophe, but far from her finest moment, to say the least.

Nedra Pickler, Associated Press -Gone was the Clinton who laughed off their answers and joked about how she's lucky to be getting so much attention from all these men at her age. Clinton clearly had decided she must defend herself from rivals who are right on her heels in the leadoff voting state of Iowa and who pose a real threat to her winning the Democratic nomination. Still, she continued her strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions: She wouldn't say how she would address Social Security; she declined to pledge whether she would stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, or say whether she supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrant. Instead she tried to tried to turn every issue into an argument against President Bush. She said Bush's name 25 times, more than all six of her rivals combined.

David Yepsen, Des Moines Register - Near the end of the event, she stumbled on a simple question of whether she supported or opposed a plan by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to give drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants. Clinton danced around the question, clearly didn't answer it, and is now likely to see clips of that meandering response show up in attack ads for the rest of the 2008 race. Clinton's performance will do little to excite her supporters and nothing to quiet the reservations many Democrats have about the senator from New York.

Charles Hurt, New York Post - As the night went on, it was John Edwards who made the strongest case for Democrats who are nearly as sick of the Clinton dynasty, with all its triangulating, as they are of the war and the Bushes. In the end, the most damage was inflicted by Clinton on herself. She tied herself up in knots - in a way her opponents couldn't - with her non-answer about whether she favors giving driver's license to illegal aliens. She must be the only New Yorker without an opinion on the plan (other than her colleague, Sen. Chuck Schumer). Her evasiveness on the most talked-about issue in the state reminded everyone of the worst of husband Bill and what could be in store if another Clinton makes it to the White House.

Roger Simon, Politico - In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign. It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued drivers’ licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading. It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.