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Rating the 2008 Presidential Candidates - DNC '07 Winter Meeting

Ten Hopefuls at the DNC Winter 2007 Meeting

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Rating the 2008 Presidential Candidates - DNC '07 Winter Meeting

Senator Hillary Clinton

For cumulative ratings on the 2008 candidates, see Cumulative Scorecards for the 2008 Democratic Debates.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York

(See cumulative ratings at Rating Hillary Clinton - Cumulative Scorecard for the 2008 Debates.)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has obviously hired a speech coach, because her oratorical skills have grown vastly more effective. She was commanding and authoritative, yet funny, energetic and positive. Even radiant.

Sen. Clinton entered the rostrum like a winning basketball coach after an exhilarating victory, with scads of sign-waving female campaign workers screaming and jumping to their feet in cued excitement. Her approach is one of self-confidence... projecting the veneer that, of course, she'll win the Democratic nomination.

After the requisite tip-of-her-cap to first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the senator delivered a clever and absorbing speech tailored and poll-tested for women and middle-class voters.

She enthused about "quality affordable universal health care for every single American" and of breaking our country's oil dependence.

She shrewdly proclaimed that "If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war." She avoided mentioning that she was in Congress in October of 2002, and she voted FOR the war.

Various bloggers at her speech report that Hillary was booed by a handful of hecklers when she spoke about the Iraq War.

Hillary's "mother" references abounded:
* "What does No Child Left Behind mean when I feel like my children have been left behind?"
* "This is about our children and grandchildren."
* "I am not running for president to put band-aids on our problems."

Make no mistake about it: Hillary is not the anti-poverty candidate. (That's John Edwards.) She alluded only twice to poverty, when she visibly choked on the odd phrase "poor people."

Nor is she is the bipartisan, let's-heal-our-differences candidate. (That's Barack Obama.) She never once spoke of reaching across the political aisle for anything. Victory is victory in ClintonWorld, and that means you clobber, never collaborate with, the enemy.

All factors considered, Sen. Clinton delivered an excellent and well-received speech, and cleverly spun her unpopular war hawkishness when she imperially announced, "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president I will!"

The Verdict on Clinton: Leading the race, and sounding stronger, more confident and better organized than most of her male challengers.

I just wonder if this race can be won by appealing only to women. And if a national election can be won by appealing to only one gender, and one political party.

Hillary's staff needs to remind her that millions of U.S. women dislike her, and still vividly recall her arrogant 1992 remark, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas... "

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware

(See cumulative ratings at Rating Joe Biden - Cumulative Scorecard for the 2008 Debates.)

Dapper, charming and usually verbose, Joe Biden delivered the shortest speech of the 10 candidates. And he started it by again apologizing for his clumsy comments the previous week about Sen. Barack Obama.

Most of his remarks addressed the Iraq War, which, as a Senate foreign relations leader since the 1970s, is a subject on which he is well-versed.

He also touched on the plight of Americans who worry how to "heat their homes, fill up their gas tanks," and shared the touching story of seeing his father's crestfallen face after being turned down for a loan to finance young Joe's college education. Like the others, Biden lamented that 47 million Americans have no health insurance.

Sen. Biden discussed no specific recommendations or policies, except for his already well-publicized plan to bring peace to Iraq.

But no one doubts that Sen. Biden, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with more than 3 decades in the Senate, comprehends policy complexities, and could credibly inhabit the White House.

The problem is that... well, he's Joe Biden. Foot-in-the-mouth, hogging-the-camera, yakking-incessantly, close-to-lobbyists Joe.

He has a big heart, loads of charisma and plenty of smarts, but a 20th-century style and absolutely no buzz among voters under 40. Or over 40.

The Verdict on Biden: Joe Biden occupies the middle-tier of 2008 Democratic candidates, and is unlikely to break-out to join the race leaders.

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