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October 30, 2007

The Most Important 2 minutes of the Democratic Debate

This is all you need to know about tonight's debate.

Hillary Clinton, blew it. Big Time.

It happened late in the debate, and I have no idea how many people stuck around to watch it. But, take my word for it, it is going to be a regularly repeating ad run by the GOP all summer long.

Hillary, perhaps feeling a little overconfident, pandered on the issue of granting illegal immigrants driver's licenses. She essentially endorsed Spitzer's plan in New York. (Which is strange, as Spitzer has pretty much pissed off everybody...the illegals don't like "different" licenses, and the general public doesn't like the illegals getting anything at all.)

And, to add fuel to the fire, she bemoaned the lack of the passage of "comprehensive immigration reform" a.k.a. Amnesty.

Why is this important? Answer below.

It's important for several reasons.

First, she is barely ahead of Obama in Iowa. Immigration has consistently polled as the top issue in that state. She has placed herself on the wrong side of the public, on the wrong side of Iowans, and has given Obama an opening to snake the state out from under her.

(Obama blew it too..he took the Hillary position. But no-one talks about Obama. Every Republican in Iowa from this point forward will be bashing Hillary for endorsing driver's licenses for illegals. This probably boosts Obama's prospects, solely by driving Hill's negatives up.)

Should Obama upset Clinton in Iowa, her aura of "inevitability" is gone. She still wins the Dem nomination, but she spends more money to do so, and she has to spend more time in the spotlight engaging in retail politics.

And Hillary in the spotlight is bad for her. The more people see her, the more they are reminded of the things they don't like about her.

Hillary's gaffe also helps the GOP. It places our single most popular issue in the forefront of debate. When the public is given a choice between enforcing the law and granting amnesty, we win.

It was also an unnecessary error. She could have used this moment to tack back to the center. Chris Dodd gave the answer that Hillary should have given. She may be New York's Senator, but that doesn't mean she has to reflexively endorse everything the State's Democratic Governor does. She seemed to forget this.

Now..is there any benefit to Hillary's move? Maybe. It forces Giuliani to start talking about his immigration position. Why? Because reporters will want to see if the two most prominent New York candidates are split on this issue (which would be interesting in its own right) and because the media can use it to highlight Giuliani's "evolving/nuanced" position. Which, given his record, is not the area he wants to focus his message on as he appeals to GOP primary voters.

And Giuliani was obviously the candidate on the Democrats minds tonight. Biden saw fit to take him down on several occasions. The only other GOP candidate I heard name-checked was Romney (in a really lame joke).

So, she choked. She anti-triangulated. Somewhere Bill Clinton must be "feeling her pain."

Which makes me smile.

Almost as much as all the fact that she voluntarily made our best issue the topic of the news cycle for the next couple of weeks.

Thanks, Hill!

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posted by Jack M. at 11:55 PM

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