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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Anita Kumar, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton takes the debate stage for the first time in this campaign Tuesday night to face four rivals looking for something — anything — to knock down her lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

Clinton must use the debate to explain her rationale for her second candidacy for the White House or risk seeing her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, stealing her front-runner status, which already has eroded in part because of the inquiries into her use of personal email for government business.

The two-hour debate at the Wynn Las Vegas, airing on CNN starting at 9 p.m. EDT, will feature the five Democratic candidates who received at least 1 percent in a trio of national polls within the last six weeks. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a run, will not participate.

Here’s what to look for.

How does Clinton relate?

The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady has been trying throughout the campaign to show she can relate to working American families after years of being criticized as an out-of-touch Washington insider garnering hefty paychecks for speeches and books.

With recent polls showing an increasing number of voters do not trust her or believe she understands their problems, it’s clear she has more work to do to show them that she’s not forgotten her middle-class, Middle America sensibilities. Just last week, she poked fun at herself on “Saturday Night Live.”

Will Clinton be able to articulate a softer side by speaking about herself, her family or those she has met on the campaign trail, or will she continue to appear overly cautious and inaccessible?

Does Sanders look like a protester or a president?

Sanders has drawn massive crowds and millions of dollars by being a champion of the underpaid, overworked American worker. The 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist boasts a passionate following — which engages in enthusiastic tweets that use the hashtag FeeltheBern — but he isn’t well known for much more than blasting what he calls the “billionaire class.”

For Sanders to be seriously considered, he needs for potential voters outside the early states to get to know him better.

Will he use the debate to speak confidently about a host of other policy issues — foreign and domestic — and explain how he would govern as a president?

Who are those other guys?

The three remaining candidates — former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb — have one goal: Get noticed.

Each is garnering less than 2 percent in most national polls behind Clinton, Sanders and Biden, who isn’t even a candidate. Some people do not know who they are.

Will any of the trio get attention by attacking Clinton or Sanders, making a joke or delivering a memorable one liner? Webb and Chafee have struggled to serve as attack dogs in previous joint appearances. O’Malley has not hesitated to criticize his opponents, particularly Clinton, but he has not managed to move the polls.

Will the five candidates differ on the issues?

Unlike the Republicans running for president, the Democratic candidates haven’t distinguished themselves from each other on many of the main issues. They’ve focused on attacking the other party instead of each other.

For the most part, but not in all cases, they want to raise the minimum wage, lower college costs, get rid of unaccountable money in politics and support a deal with Iran that would curb the country’s nuclear program. Their central messages have largely focused on tackling income inequality and lifting the middle class.

Will they try to use the first debate to set themselves apart from one other and contrast the ways they would govern?

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Democratic presidential candidate, delivers remarks at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute presidential candidates forum in Washington, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

  • dtgraham

    I hope Bernie knocks it out of the park tonight. Nothing against Hillary but she’s not the change agent that Bernie is. I’ve seen a number of Democrats in primaries over the decades that I’ve liked and even admired, but there’s only one Bernie. For me this is a political love affair. I practically worship him I consider myself a democratic socialist too.

    I think that Bernie got into this thing, realistically, just to shift the tone and message of the Democratic party and to affect policy. Listening to Hillary any more, I’d say that he’s been as successful as could reasonably be expected. My guess is that he would probably feel that way too although he’d never admit to it. He has to always say that he’s in it to win, and you know what?—–you just never know.

    Like I said, nothing against Hillary. Assuming that she eventually gets the nomination, I’ll be rooting very hard for her next year. Until then though, it’s FEEL THE BERN!

  • Dominick Vila

    This may very well be the deciding factor for Hillary’s candidacy. Bernie is expected to do an outstanding job by reiterating the populist themes that have been the centerpiece of his political career. What is far from clear is which Hillary will be on the stage tonight. Will it be the fighter we saw 7 years ago, a politicians on the defense, a flip flopper, or someone with a clear message that appeals to mainstream Americans? As opposed to her opponents, who are not expected to demonstrate anything, all the eyes will be on her. Every word she utters, every gesture, her composure under pressure, her poise, and even her coiffure and attire, will be micro analyzed, critiqued, and attacked by her detractors. Hillary has the intellectual qualifications and relevant experience needed to shine. Whether or not she uses those attributes to her advantage remains to be seen.
    Most importantly, will our media succumb to the temptation to satisfy an audience thirsty for sensationalism and negativism, or will a semblance of effective and fair journalism emerge?

    • dtgraham

      I’ve heard a few talking heads say that Martin O’Malley may surprise and have a solid evening. We’ll see.

      I hope that the single digit candidates don’t try to gain attention with sound bites about Hillary’s use of a private server, that are likely to be widely aired post-debate. I don’t expect that from Sanders but I’m less sure of the others. She needs a good answer for that going forward, starting tonight.

      Past Secretary(s) of State and other politicians have used private e-mail accounts but apparently only one other politician ever used a private server, which is a very different thing. That was Jeb Bush.

      • Dominick Vila

        O’Malley is an excellent candidate, with a proven track record as Governor of Maryland, but a good performance during a debate is not going to help him rise over single digits. Not because of his shortcomings, but because he is running against two formidable candidates.
        The e-mail saga has been a witch hunt from the get go, a fact confirmed by none other than Rep. McCarthy, a Republican leader. The funniest part is that many of those enraged by Hillary using a private server can be seen daily sending texts via their cell phones…and nobody dares ask them if the texts contain classified or sensitive information. If e-mail via public servers and private accounts were a litmus test for all politicians, Congress, Governorships, and all public posts would be vacant.
        As for Beghazi, just remember 9/11 and all the terrorist attacks against U.S. Embassies and Consulates during W’s tenure. The fact that none of those attacks were questioned or investigated should be enough to determine what is really behind this charade.
        The correct names for these “”investigations” range from Inquisitorial witch hunts to attempt to destroy an opponent who cannot be destroyed on merit.

        • dtgraham

          It’s not that there isn’t something there, but the e-mail thing is way overblown for sure. That’s why I could never understand Hillary’s decision on this given her future plans. The GOP don’t need anything for a scandal, especially a Clinton scandal. They just make it up. Why give them something that has even a shred of legitimacy?

          Benghazi is absolutely, totally ridiculous by this point. Longer than Watergate or the JFK assassination and it’s based on nothing? Seinfeld ran for 10 years based on nothing, but I digress… We now even have Republican Congressmen and whistle blowers publicly admitting that it’s really just to damage Hillary for gawd sakes. I don’t know how Democrats can even talk about this on-air without seething with contempt.

          I read the comments of yourself and Eleanor Whitaker recently, where you two were saying that the House Republicans were out of control. That’s what can happen over time when a party rigs the districts so badly that they’re only relying on, and trying to please, a slim ideological slice of the electorate. As a result, when you know you can’t lose the House, you begin to lose your discipline and focus. You almost lose touch with reality. Maybe more than almost.

          • Dominick Vila

            Hillary used poor judgment when she decided to use a private server and a personal e-mail account for official government business, but she did not break any laws and did not compromise national security by doing so. The worst that could be said is, again, that she used poor judgment, especially considering that she must have known that everything she did or say was under a political microscope.
            As for Benghazi, it only serves as a contrast between what happened when W was President and CiC, and what has happened since President Obama was inaugurated. In a way, the Benghazi affair is the best thing that could happen to us during a presidential election year.

          • dtgraham

            It may be now. From what I’ve read and heard about it, she didn’t actually break any laws at all.

            There were supposed to have been three hacker attacks on her server, but unsuccessful. I’m quite sure that there are regular attempts made on government servers too.

          • Dominick Vila

            …and some of those attempts have been successful, but did not compromise our national security. At least nothing has been said to that effect.

          • 1standlastword

            There will be a reckoning!

            And it will be painful for us all be “absolute justice” for the perpetrators of global deceptions that have been caused by a “powerfully privileged” few that the world has not yet brought to justice!

        • 1standlastword

          There is a large body of investigatory information call the 9/11 report. The problem is there hasn’t been accountability at the highest level of our government for their slovenliness, their disinterest, callousness, willful deception and blatant disregard for law and order including integrity toward their oath of office.

          We’ve had leadership violate our service members and the American people in the light of day only to leave us to mourn our dead, go from riches to rags in less than a decade and then they were allowed to leave the scene…but not permanently but then to return not for justice but to violate us all over again!!!

          And once again with no accountability. If there is a judgement day on the other of this life as they profess to believe they will NOT BE HAPPY SOULS!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Dominick Vila

            The difference between the 9/11 Commission investigation, and the Benghazi and e-mail investigations, is that the former never questioned the performed on the White House occupant, or his decision to delegate attendance to the daily national security briefings. That investigation was focused strictly on determining the reasons for the attack, who carried it out, and what preventive measures should be taken to minimize the probability of a recurrence. Benghazi and the e-mail “scandal” have all been about hanging the culprit (s).

        • Irishgrammy

          The most appalling fact is that this “investigation” was created for ONE “political” motive, one and only one, to destroy Hillary Clinton in any way the GOPTP can, and again they are doing it with selective “leaks”, dishonest fishing expeditions, and literally creating bogus conspiracies as they go, for them, hopefully dragging it out until Nov. 2016…….but maybe just maybe the TRUTH is catching up with these charlatans……It is clearly transparent and has been from the get go!! AND it is being done on the taxpayers dime, which to me is beyond infuriating. It seems to me there should be something highly illegal about a bunch of Republican politicians KNOWINGLY fleecing the American taxpayer to pull off a huge “partisan” political witch hunt and create a propaganda tool in order to attack Hillary with their falsely created “talking points”!!!!! Again, the Republicans prove they have no interest in governing, fixing, what at times seems like insurmountable problems, and just want to promote wars, death, and violence and attain power for power’s sake. Frankly most of them really flat out do not care about the future state of this country. How can anyone truly believe a Tea Party member of the House, with extreme ideas of the far right that come from these heavily gerrymandered districts will ever change their tune or be shamed into doing what’s moral and right, when their districts are populated and “arranged” with the extreme racist, bigoted, narrow minded ignorant idiots that live there. Your last sentence says it all, it is definitely what the Republicans have and are again doing to Hillary and what they have been trying to do to President Obama for 7 years now. The older I get, the more discouraged I get for the futures of my grandchildren……

          • Dominick Vila

            I think the GOP over reached, and their tactics are likely to back fire. In addition to McCarthy’s admission, the claims about Hillary breaking a law that was put in place months after the investigation began; or that she had mishandled classified information, even though the information was reclassified after the investigation began; or that she had deliberately deleted all her personal e-mails, even though they are available in the server she voluntarily turned in, are bound to hurt Republicans more than Hillary. Most Americans demand justice, but most don’t appreciate witch hunts.

    • Otto Greif

      It’s funny you think Hillary has “character”.

      • Dominick Vila

        Very few people can withstand the personal problems she has experienced, and the attacks directed at her, not only as a candidate, but even when she was First Lady. In the midst of all that, she managed to keep her poise and composure.

        • Otto Greif

          What about the attacks she directed at other women?

  • FT66

    I have nothing against Bernie Sanders. I like very much what he says. The man is now 74 years, he will be 76 the time to be sworn in as president. For him working only one year as president will be like 10 years. The work is very tough and will finish him in no time. I beg to be counted out in making such a history of electing him at that age.

    • dtgraham

      I know what you’re saying but it’s doable. Look at the ages of so many of the Senators. There are 5 in their early eighties with 3 more at 79. After that, there are a whole bunch in their late 70’s. Bernie seems pretty energetic and in good shape. He may only choose to serve one term as well. That’s more than enough time to get the ball rolling on change and hopefully have his VP get elected on his coat tails. Elizabeth Warren?

    • 1standlastword

      People are willing to suffer and die for far less on planet Earth!

      I for one will be looking for reasons why I should default to Hillary

  • latebloomingrandma

    I hope the debate is widely viewed. Trump says it will not be because he’s not in it. Has there ever been a more narcissistic candidate than him? I find it tiresome and nauseating.

  • Otto Greif

    Let me know how the other candidates react to Chafee’s bold proposal to move the US to the metric system.

    • Dominick Vila

      We should have done that decades ago.

      • Otto Greif

        The metric system is gay.