Hillary Booed After Plagiarism Attack on Obama, "Change You Can Xerox" [VIDEO]
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For weeks, Hillary Clinton and her campaign have done just about everything they can think of to stress the significance of another head-to-head debate with Barack Obama. When Obama balked at an event in Wisconsin, Clinton ran ads taunting him over it.
All of this had the effect of hammering home a simple point: Clinton couldn't wait to get back onto the stage with her Democratic rival. One assumed, given the emphasis, that she would use the next debate to practically tear Obama apart. Indeed, she probably wouldn't have a choice -- it's been a rough few weeks, her quiver is running noticeably low on arrows, and time for game-changing events is running out.
So, what happened last night in Austin? Well, I should note that I slept through the whole thing, but have read much of the transcript and lots of reports on what transpired. And if there's a consensus, it seemed to be that nothing happened last night that changed the dynamics of the race in any significant way. Josh Marshall's response seemed typical of most:
The level of specificity and detail in discussions of policy questions spoke well of both of them. Hillary had a strong closing. Obama has clearly improved as a debater and seemed to embody the frontrunner mantle. All of this points basically to a tie. And in the context of where this campaign is, a tie is a win for Obama because he's winning. And Clinton needs to change the dynamic of the campaign.
Notwithstanding the inflamed partisans on both sides, I think the great majority of Democrats like both these candidates, genuinely like and admire both of them. You could feel that in the responses from the audience tonight. But that pleasant equilibrium is losing the race for her right now.
I have to admit, I find this rather surprising. By any reasonable measure, Clinton is losing. If she wasn't going to use this debate to shake up the status quo, then what was the point of pushing the importance of debates so aggressively the past couple of weeks?
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.