Word has it that Hillary Clinton and John Edwards met for a little private chat last night “in the Edwards campaign green room.”
One of the sources said the meeting happened by chance and the conversation consisted of light chatter. The source added that Clinton did jokingly take a jab at Edwards about his beating up on her during the debate. In fact, the real fireworks were between Clinton and Barack Obama.
And of course this meeting leaves everyone to wonder, “with only two weeks before Super Tuesday — what else was discussed?” The flies on the wall don’t seem to be talking.
Jeffrey Feldman has a post up today asking whether Obama can get “back on message?” (H/T to TM) Feldman says:
Like it or not, the Clinton campaign has knocked the Obama campaign off the core theme of ‘hope and change.’ This change is significant because the ‘hope and change’ theme took over the entire political debate in the 24 hours after the Iowa debate. That is no longer the case.
Despite trumpeting his ability to bring a ‘new tone’ to politics, last night’s debate showed an Obama who scolded, complained, and pointed fingers. His performance last night raises a serious question without a clear answer: How can a Presidential candidate bring change if he is so easily thrown off message by his opponents?
Having dominated previous debates with his quick wit and charisma, Obama’s rhetoric and body language last night gave the impression of a candidate stuck–like everyone else–in old-school mud slinging politics.
The ability to throw Obama off his message may be a Pyrrhic victory for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In the end, voters not persuaded by Obama’s message of change may jump to Edwards rather than Clinton. Nonetheless, Clinton has managed to open up a significant chink in Obama’s armor by hitting on the difference between ‘rhetoric and reality.’
Indeed, that Obama came off as so defensive last night was a good example of how quickly his central campaign promises have been tripped up by his opponents.
For their part, both Clinton and Edwards gave solid, but not inspiring debate performances. As usual, the word that came to mind after watching Clinton’s in last night’s debate was ‘prepared.’ While Obama struggled to get out subtle distinctions in long sentences–Clinton spoke in sharp, clear, if not over-produced talking points.
I think the last two debates have shown a struggling Obama. He’s no match for Clinton’s sharp mind that can rattle off points on policy and issue during a debate without skipping a beat. Her speeches and interviews show a similarly confident and knowledgable candidate. Obama on the other hand seems to have an “inability to keep his campaign message focused across the full range of campaign events.”
In particular, while disciplined and on message in his campaign speeches, Obama has shown a tendency to wanders off message in press interviews, often bringing in statements that are vague and even contradictory.
This won’t play well for Obama should he become the nominee. If Hillary Clinton can so easily throw him off message, it will be just as easy for the Republican nominee to do the same.