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Hillary Out-Talks Sanders and O'Malley in Perky Democrat Debate


Hillary-Clinton.jpgBased on previous debates, the third Democratic Party's Presidential nominee debate Saturday night in New Hampshire should have been another low-key event. Instead, the 90-minute session at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, turned out to be livelier than many had predicted.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 74, was supposed to be the front-runner in this neck of the woods with a 56 percent poll rating versus 28 percent for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 69, and 5 percent for former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, 52.

But when the curtain came down, Clinton had clearly grabbed most of the air time from Sanders and O'Malley.

She was the clear winner although all three showed presidential possibility with their aggressive positions. This was the best performance of the three candidates to date.

First of all, please understand this was not a "debate" in the dictionary sense. ABC News hosts David Muir and Martha Raddatz hogged the two-and-a-half hour limelight by shooting prepared questions at each of the candidates from the moment they stepped on the stage.

It was a typical TV-style interview that by no stretch of the imagination could be called a collegiate-type debate.

Muir and Raddatz frequently had a tough time keeping all three candidates in some semblance of speaking order. Clinton bulldozed Muir and Raddatz repeatedly to get her point across. The crowd of 1,000 loved it.

Still, give the candidates credit. They tried valiantly to challenge each other on several of the key topics. But Muir and Raddatz often barely gave them a chance to use their minute-and-a-half reply time.

Sanders also came out a winner of sorts when he bested the Democratic National Committee over a federal court lawsuit he had filed earlier in the day. The DNC had barred Sanders from using his crucial voter files after one of his campaign workers had allegedly stolen online voter data from the Clinton camp.

The DNC quickly lifted the bar after Sanders stated publicly he had fired the employee who had stolen the Clinton data. The lawsuit also went away. And as the debate opened in New Hampshire, Sanders apologized to Clinton and she accepted his apology.

The program's topics were diverse. They included Libya, Obamacare, ISIS, Donald Trump, Guns, College Education, Syria, Bashar Assad, Wall Street, Corporate America and Muslims.

Clinton, not always known by the public as a humorous type, used her humor to good advantage Saturday night. For example, asked by Muir whether corporate America should love her, she quipped, "Everybody should."

Asked the same question, Sanders quickly shouted, ""Nope, they won't." He called for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall laws breaking up big banks.

"The greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and millions of lives," he yelled. "I will fight and lead," for changes.

And when Clinton signed off in her closing statement, she showed she was also abreast of current social happenings as well as foreign affairs. Nodding to the debut of the new Star Wars movie last night, she told the audience, "Thank you, good night and may the Force be with you."

O'Malley criticized Clinton for her comments in the last debate, held in Iowa, on her closeness to Wall Street.

"She tried to hide her cozy relationship" with Wall Street by citing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said O'Malley, and she still won't support breaking up the big banks.

Clinton struck back. O'Malley "had no trouble" going to Wall Street for financial handouts when he headed the Democratic Governors Association," she said.

On fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and ISIS, Sanders and Clinton clashed over Middle East policy.

"Our differences are fairly deep on this issue," says Sanders. She listened to (former President George W.)  Bush and (former Secretary of State Dick) Cheney and voted for the Iraq War," Sanders argued.

Clinton is "too much into regime change" and "too aggressive" without appreciating the consequences of what happens afterwards, he said.  "Getting rid of dictators is easy," but you have to think about "what happens the day after."

Clinton says Sanders voted for regime change in Libya and to get rid of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"If we had not joined with Europeans, you would be looking at Syria," she said.

The two clashed over whether the priority should be ousting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad or destroying ISIS.

Clinton said the U.S. and its partners need to focus on both.  Sanders says that sort of thinking is  "flawed."

 "The major priority right now," Sanders argued "should be destroying ISIS."

O'Malley agreed with Sanders that ISIS should be the priority. "We shouldn't be the ones declaring that Assad must go," said O'Malley."

Clinton said the reason "we're in the mess we're in" is because of Assad. "When we look at these complex problems, I wish it could be either or," she said, but leaving Assad in power helps create more terrorists "by the minute."

She said "the world is behind us for a political solution but we have to lead."

It was no blockbuster of a "debate" but the New Hampshire event at least showed the voting public any of the three candidates Saturday night is ready, willing and able to take on the Republican Party's nominee in a real live debate, or even in a national Presidential election in November 2016.

And that's the way it is at this moment.

 

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