It’s the morning after the democratic presidential debate here in Philadelphia. The sun is shining and I’m just rising out of bed here at the hotel with a massive headache. I’m guessing it’s from all the spinning I went through last night in the post-debate spin room. For those who don’t follow all this political stuff, the spin room is where big-name supporters of both candidates clarify and highlight what their candidate said .. and put even a bad performance in the best possible light.
I had a chance to speak with former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark as well as David Westin, the President of ABC News. I queried Westin about the tone of the debate and whether it was too focused on Obama missteps and gaffes and I asked Clark, a Sen. Hillary Clinton supporter, if Clinton did enough to get people past their feelings that she is untrustworthy. I think you can guess what their answers were to those questions.
Now, allow me to put my own spin on the debate and what I saw. I felt it wasn’t so much that Clinton won than Sen. Barack Obama lost. He has had that presidential look and feel about him all campaign long, but that veneer cracked to some degree over the constant questions about everything from his relationship with his pastor to his choice of not wearing an American flag lapel pin. Obama seemed to be grasping for answers and not as smooth as he had been in previous debates.
However, I don’t think either candidate did anything to change the minds of voters in this state … and that is how you determine true victory. Both were evasive on issues ranging from gun control to joining forces as a ticket following the convention. You could sense a clear dislike between the pair … and more than a few subtle jabs back and forth.
There were complaints from those watching that the debate focused on “sizzle” rather than “substance” and for the first 45 minutes that was true. It wasn’t until 9:03 p.m. that the first question about policy was asked. Once that happened, it seemed clear that there was virtually no difference between Clinton and Obama.
Bottom line from my own personal spin room: Last night’s debate will do little to change the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. At least, not enough to swing the election to Obama from the current single-digit deficit. Thus, the campaign will go on … and so will this ongoing battle for the nomination. However, I wonder if voters will get fatigued by all this campaigning. Remember, it’s August before the Dems actually choose their standard-bearer.
Still, the real winner of this debate will be chosen by you on April 22 when you vote.
I’ll see you tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. I know I’ve been off the anchor desk for quite a while and I have missed the gang in the mornings. I’m sure they have missed me too the last couple of weeks. I mean, who’s making them coffee in my absence?