#DemDebate: Was that a two-hour Hillary Clinton campaign ad that we just saw?
The first two Republican Party presidential debates of the 2016 cycle pivoted around Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton was the pivot of the first Democratic Party debate, and she showed Tuesday night why she is the frontrunner.
“I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it’s time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do,” Clinton said, offering one of several contrasts between herself and the man cast as her top rival, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who awkwardly defended his votes against the Brady Bill and in favor of NRA-sponsored legislation giving gun dealers and manufacturers immunity from lawsuits.
Sanders also stumbled on the basic question of whether or not he considers himself a capitalist, allowing Clinton to glide into triangulation about supporting small business entrepreneurship while also backing measures to “save capitalism from itself.”
Clinton has been in the political spotlight since the early 1990s, from her own early stumbles with healthcare reform and TravelGate (and “vast right-wing conspiracies”) through to the current day with manufactured controversies over Benghazi and her issues with email. As was the case with her husband, she not only survives, but thrives, in these situations, Muhammad Ali on the rope-a-dope, begging George Foreman to punch himself out.
“Let’s just take a minute here and point out that this committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee,” Clinton said, referring to the latest House investigatory committee looking into her emails, which she labeled “a partisan vehicle” aimed at driving down her poll numbers.
“I am still standing. I am happy to be part of this debate,” Clinton said, as Clintons are adept at saying.
She even won over Sanders on this point. In maybe the most memorable moment of the night, Sanders took the email issue off the table for the remainder of the Democratic Party nomination process.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” Sanders said, to wild applause from the partisans.
With general agreement from the rest of the debate field on this point, Clinton was given free rein thereafter to play to the general election voters, saying self-styled whistleblower Edward Snowden should have to “face the music,” and talking tough on Vladimir Putin, Iran, China and the Obama trade agreement, while at the same placating the base on college tuition, DREAMers and Planned Parenthood.
In her closing remarks, which of course, by luck of the (ahem!) draw were the final remarks from the candidates of the night, Clinton framed for the viewers what they had just seen on the stage in front of them.
“What you have to ask yourself is, who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?” Clinton began. “Now, I revere my late mother, and she gave me a lot of good advice. But one of the best pieces of advice she gave me was, you know, the issue is not whether or not you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up.
“America’s been knocked down,” Clinton said, the only thing missing being the patriotic background musical accompaniment. “That Great Recession, 9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million lost their homes, $13 trillion in wealth disappeared. And although we’ve made progress, we’re standing but not running the way America needs to.
“My mission as president will be to raise incomes for hard-working middle-class families and to make sure that we get back to the basic bargain I was raised with: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.
“Please join me in this campaign. Please come and make it clear that America’s best days are still ahead.”
Yeah, that was a two-hour Hillary Clinton campaign ad that we just saw, for the record.
– Story by Chris Graham