Debate Seen as Massive Win for Clinton
Chafee gave one of the worst debate answers ever
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2015 12:39 AM CDT
Updated Oct 14, 2015 6:44 AM CDT
From left, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee listen to the national anthem before the CNN Democratic presidential debate.   (AP Photo/John Locher)
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(Newser) – After a rocky few months for Hillary Clinton's campaign, she needed a strong debate performance on Tuesday night—and it looks like she knocked it out of the park. Here's what the pundits are saying:

  • "This was the best two hours of her candidacy to date," decides Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, praising a "confident, relaxed, and good-natured" performance that won the debate by a mile. He notes that she was "aggressive from the start," going after Bernie Sanders for his past votes on guns and saying it is time the US "stood up against the NRA."

  • Clinton "crushed it," according to Shane Goldmacher at Politico, who writes that she summarized her candidacy in one line: "I'm a progressive. But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done." Another standout line, in response to Sanders' praise of Scandinavian-style democratic socialism: "We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America."
  • Clinton easily sidestepped most attacks, including criticism of her 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war, writes Josh Voorhees at Slate. "I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then–Sen. Obama debating this very issue," she said. "After the election, he asked me to become secretary of state." She also deflected Martin O'Malley's accusation that she was too quick to use military force, Voorhees notes. "I was very pleased when Gov. O'Malley endorsed me for president in 2008 and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign," she said.
  • Sanders had his moments, but his focus on income inequality was so intense it "made him sound like a one-note candidate," according to Frank Bruni at the New York Times. Bruni and other analysts say that Sanders' best moment was when he defended Clinton, saying people are "sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails."
  • None of the other three candidates on the stage got anything close to the breakout moment they needed. Amanda Marcotte at Salon declares Jim Webb the biggest loser for his "petulant" complaining about not getting enough time to speak, while Cillizza at the Post thinks Lincoln Chafee had a "genuinely awful" night and gave one of the worst debate answers ever when asked to explain his vote in favor of repealing the Glass-Steagall financial regulation act.
(Click for highlights from Donald Trump's live-tweeting of the debate.)