I didn’t watch the Democrats’ presidential debate on Saturday night. There was too much good college football on tap, which probably helps explain why the Dems staged the event in this time slot. Or is it just coincidence that the debate, held in Iowa, conflicted with the game between undefeated Iowa and the University of Minnesota?
This report from the Washington Post suggests that the Democrats were wise to hold the debate in a time slot seemingly calculated to discourage viewership. Apparently, it turned into something of a gaffe-fest for Hillary Clinton.
Scott has highlighted Clinton’s attempt to explain her extensive financial backing from Wall Street as gratitude for her efforts to help downtown Manhattan recover from the 9/11 attack. Is anyone buying this?
Post reporters Abby Phillip and Dave Weigel don’t seem to be. They write:
The answer did not rebut Sanders’s point, that Clinton might be beholden to special interests because she has accepted millions from the financial industry. On Twitter and Facebook, the moment became the most-talked-about exchange of the debate — and not to her benefit.
Clinton “vehemently offers support for Wall Street as post-911 recovery effort. Does that fly?” former Obama adviser David Axelrod asked on Twitter.
It didn’t help that during the event, a biting follow-up question came from social media. “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now,” wrote Andy Grewal, a law professor at the University of Iowa.
Fortunately for Clinton, the ever-helpful Bernie (“Enough. . .about your damn emails”) Sanders seems determined to let Hillary off the hook. According to the Post:
After the debate, the Sanders team appeared to make a conscious decision to lay off Clinton on the 9/11 remark. One of his advisers, Tad Devine, told reporters that he would leave it to others to assess the comments.
“Then-Sen. Clinton did a great job representing her state at a time of terrible tragedy in New York on 9/11, and we’re not joining in the characterization of her comments,” Devine said, instead seeking to focus on the “big substantive differences” between the two on how they would regulate Wall Street.
Hey, Bernie. If you keep taking the high road, you will never encounter Hillary, much less defeat her.
Clinton’s gaffes weren’t limited to the subject Wall Street. Asked about the wave of campus protests and whether she would encourage more of them, Hillary replied, “I come from the ’60s, a long time ago. There was a lot of activism on campus.”
Team Rubio quickly pounced. Its spokesman Alex Conant tweeted, “Debate recap — Clinton: ‘I come from the 60s, a long time ago.’ Marco: ‘This election is about the future.’” I thought the Clintons couldn’t “stop thinking about tomorrow.” Wouldn’t it be ironic if Hillary Clinton ends up being to Sen. Rubio what Bob Dole was to Bill Clinton?
The Rubio campaign also ridiculed the unwillingness, noted by John here, of any of the three Democratic contenders to to say the words “radical Islam.” I don’t think this is a viable protocol for the general election and it’s hard to understand why it’s required even during the Democratic primary season. Does the phrase “radical Islam” really offend more than a handful of Democratic voters? Clinton isn’t running for student body president at Amherst.
If Clinton really wants to distance herself from President Obama’s weak foreign policy, she should start by rejecting his mindless vocabulary rules.
The gaffes Clinton committed last night aren’t going to cost her the Democratic nomination. Nor is it likely that they will play a role in the general election.
Taken together, however, they suggest a cluelessness, or at least a tone-deafness, that could plague Clinton throughout the campaign season. Bragging about coming from a “long time ago,” attributing her coziness with Wall Street to 9/11, and clinging to Obama’s lexicon on terrorism a day after the Paris attacks seem of a kind with “we left the White House dead broke” and “what difference at this point does it make?”
It’s almost enough to make me wish I had taken a two hour pass on college football.