The first debate between incumbent junior Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and the challenger John Spencer occurred Friday night, and your opinion of who the winner and loser was likely depends on which media source you rely on. As one would expect, the New York Times gave the win to the Democrat. Conversely, former Clinton administration advisor Dick Morris felt Hillary lost “big time”.
The Times reported:
But as the debate in Rochester wore on, Mr. Spencer — the more heated, less rehearsed of the two — made questionable statements on a number of issues, including the fruits of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping, North Korea’s nuclear program and Mrs. Clinton’s voting record on security matters. At one point, he said that he opposes a proposed 2,000-mile fence along the Mexican border, contradicting his campaign Web site, and added, “I haven’t looked at my Web site in about six months.”
Mrs. Clinton had her own slips, notably in insisting that her failed 1993 health care plan would not have been government-run. But with a lead of about 30 points in voter surveys, she has the luxury of sticking to her script, and she is adept at that. More often it was Mr. Spencer making the doubtful claims.
Morris couldn’t disagree more:
Hillary's huge financial advantage and her lead in the polls was of little use tonight because it was obvious that the empress has no clothes.
While Hillary gave scripted, rehearsed answers, Spencer challenged her failure to deliver on her campaign promises of 200,000 new jobs and mocked her refusal to accept blame for anything, pinning the job loss on Bush and the North Korea bomb on the State Department.
Morris concluded his piece:
But beyond the words, there were the appearances. Hillary Clinton was a Richard Nixon look-alike tonight, wearing pancake makeup, featuring hooded eyes that never met the camera, and looking like she felt -- angry at having to waste time justifying her Senate tenure in something as trivial as an election.
John Spencer may not beat Hillary, but he sure made her sweat tonight. If she wins by less than 12 points -- the margin Lazio lost by in 2000 --- she will have a lot of explaining to do. And John Spencer, may just be the guy to make it happen