Critics lauded JRE and are falling over themselves about his performance at last night's debate. Here's a sampling:
TIME’s Mark Halperin
Gave Edwards’ Debate Performance an “A”; Edwards “Came Across As Presidential, Optimistic and Patriotic — Essential for a Winner.” “Impressively he remained above the Clinton-Obama fray (no "look at me" antics) but swept in to best them while the media waited for the pair to duke it out. Calm and cool, he went after Clinton on (let's face it) character, and only occasionally seemed to be trying too hard. Hit both his Democratic and Republican targets with acute precision and impact. Appeared tough enough to perform well in a general election, with the kind of articulate passion he formerly demonstrated in the courtroom. Came across as presidential, optimistic and patriotic - essential for a winner.”David Yepsen
: “John Edwards Emerged As the Evening’s Most Effective and Articulate Challenger to Clinton.” In a blog post titled, “Johnny Be Good,” Yepsen wrote, “John Edwards emerged as the evening’s most effective and articulate challenger to Clinton. She turned in an uneven, sometimes waffling performance…Edwards came ready for the scrap and he helped his candidacy.” [Des Moines Register, 10/30/07]New York Times
: Obama “Was Frequently Overshadowed by Former Senator John Edwards.” “But for all the attention Mr. Obama drew to himself coming into the debate, he was frequently overshadowed by former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who — speaking more intensely and frequently — repeatedly challenged Mrs. Clinton’s credentials and credibility. ‘Senator Clinton says that she believes she can be the candidate for change, but she defends a broken system that’s corrupt in Washington, D.C.,’ Mr. Edwards said. ‘She says she will end the war, but she continues to say she’ll keep combat troops in Iraq and continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s not ending the war; that’s the continuation of the war.’ He added, ‘I think the American people, given this historic moment in our country’s history, deserve a president of the United States that they know will tell them the truth, and won’t say one thing one time and something different at a different time.’” [New York Times, 10/31/07]
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “I Think It Was a Good Night for John Edwards. I Think One of His Best Nights of These Debates So Far.” George Stephanopoulos: “I think it was a good night for John Edwards. I think one of his best nights of these debates so far. He was very, very clear. He didn’t back down at all. He knew exactly what he wanted to say about Hillary Clinton, again, that she can’t bring about change.” [ABC, “Good Morning America,” 10/31/07]
CQ’s Craig Crawford
: “I Thought It Was Edwards’ Best Performance So Far.” On MSNBC: Chris Matthews: “Who was ready to be her number one challenger between now and January?”… Craig Crawford: “I thought it was Edwards’ best performance so far.” Crawford later wrote, ““John Edwards was truly passionate about taking on Clinton, targeting her centrist views as ‘doubletalk’ and accusing her of falling in line with hawkish ‘neo-conservatives’ on Iran. Indeed, it was the former North Carolina senator’s most forceful debate performance so far.” [MSNBC, 10/30/07; 10/31/07]
The Nation’s Ari Melber
: “John Edwards Had the Strongest Showing.” “John Edwards had the strongest showing, pounding Clinton as the status quo candidate. ‘If you believe that combat missions should be continued in Iraq [with no timetable],’ he said, ‘then Senator Clinton is your candidate.’ Edwards repeatedly presented himself as the most credible ‘change’ candidate.” [ “Edwards & Obama Confront Clinton In Dem Debate...” 10/30/07]Daily Kos Readers
Declared Edwards the Winner. According to the Daily Kos poll following the debate, “Who do you think won the debate,” John Edwards led the pack with 33% of the 8,588 votes cast, followed by Obama at 21%, and Clinton at 16%.
CBS’s Jeff Greenfield: “It Was Former Senator John Edwards Who Used the Toughest Language” On Iran. “But it was former Senator John Edwards who used the toughest language, at one point reacting with incredulity to her claim that a vote to brand the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists was a way of opposing the president.” [“The Early Show,” CBS, 10/31/07]
The Nation’s John Nichols
(first reaction): Edwards “Ended the Night as the Candidate Who Had Done the Best Job of Defining Himself as the Alternative to Hillary Clinton.” “It wasn't just a fight about Iran, however. Edwards hit hard, and effectively, on every front. After detailing the front-runner's contributions from defense contractors and other corporate interests, he said. ‘If people want the status quo, Senator Clinton's your candidate.’ That's tough talk. Blunt talk. The sort of talk that Barack Obama seemed to suggest that he was going to deliver Tuesday night. But it came from John Edwards, who ended the night as the candidate who had done the best job of defining himself as the alternative to Hillary Clinton.” [h, 10/30/07]
Then Nichols added this
later: “Edwards, Not Obama, Hits Clinton Hardest, Smartest.” “It was supposed to be the night Barack Obama took Hillary Clinton down. But, when all was said and done, Obama was a bystander…Where Obama was unfocused and ineffectual, John Edwards landed plenty of blows. The former senator from North Carolina began by suggesting that ‘it's fair’ to talk about essential differences between the candidates. Then he highlighted a big one. ‘(Clinton) says she'll stand up to George Bush,’ argued Edwards. "In fact, she voted to give George W. Bush the first step to war on Iran...’… It was a smart, at times intense dialogue…But Edwards owned the moment. Accusing Clinton of voting for an Iran resolution that read like it was ‘written literally by the neo-cons,’ the 2004 vice presidential nominee declared, ‘We need to stand up to this president. We need to make it absolutely clear that we will not let Bush, Cheney and this administration invade Iran.’”
NBC’s Tim Russert: “Edwards Was More Aggressive, More on the Offense than Barack Obama.”
Meredith Viera: “So did Edwards emerge?” Tim Russert: “I think Edwards emerged as the most aggressive candidate against Hillary Clinton…But clearly, looking at their performance last night, Edwards was more aggressive, more on the offense than Barack Obama.” [NBC’s “Today Show,” 10/31/07]Marc Ambinder
: “John Edwards’s Instruments of Persuasion Were Sharper and Louder.” “In this discordant symphony – ‘A Clintonian Lament’ -- John Edwards’s instruments of persuasion were sharper and louder; Barack Obama’s were more resonant and more subtle. In music terms, Edwards played the French horn; Obama played the violin. Or, as the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza told me during a commercial break, ‘It’s the difference between someone who goes to law school and becomes a prosecutor and someone who goes to law school and becomes a law professor.’” [, 10/30/07]
ABC’s Rick Klein
: “It's Rare That a Highlight Comes This Late in a Debate, But Edwards Picks up on That Inconsistency On Immigration.” “10:56 pm ET: It's rare that a highlight comes this late in a debate, but Edwards picks up on that inconsistency on immigration: ‘Sen. Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes.’ Obama: ‘I was confused on Sen. Clinton's answer.’ And Obama calls the Spitzer plan ‘the right idea.’”[ 10/30/07]
Then added Klein
: “Edwards Still Seems Better, Though, at Finding Compelling Ways to Set Himself Apart.” “11:05 pm ET: Rick Klein wrapping it up -- Hillary Clinton gave a truly bad answer at the end, on illegal immigration, one that feeds the argument Obama and Edwards were making all night. Did Obama clear the bar he set for himself? Probably yes, but not with much room to spare. Edwards still seems better, though, at finding compelling ways to set himself apart. ” [10/30/07]
NBC's Domenico Montanaro
: “Clinton Blurring the Lines AGAIN, Now on Illegal Immigrant Driver's Licenses… Edwards Called Her on It.” “Is Clinton blurring the lines AGAIN, now on illegal immigrant driver's licenses. She said the plan makes sense, but can't commit apparently. She said she didn't say she supports the plan, when Dodd said she did. Russert tried to pin her on it, and she obfuscated again. Edwards called her on it, evoking Bush-Cheney, saying Americans were tired of ‘double talk.’ Obama nodded and got called on and he got to chime in as well. Does this become a problem for her? Can she directly answer a question?” [ “Clinton having it both ways... again?” 10/30/07]
The Politico’s Ben Smith
: “John Edwards Kept Up the Pressure Most Skillfully on Clinton… Drove His Point Home When She Refused to Say Whether She Supports” Spitzer’s Plan. “John Edwards kept up the pressure most skillfully on Clinton, putting his courtroom skills to use to build a case, at times mockingly, against the New York senator … Edwards drove his point home when she refused to say whether she supports New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.” [, 10/31/07]
CNN’s Candy Crowley: Edwards “Stepped Up His Game.” Appearing on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Candy Crowley said, “John Edwards, who has never been shy about going after the frontrunner, stepped up his game, questioning her candor.” [CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” 10/30/07]
CQ’s Craig Crawford: “I thought Edwards made a good point when he said Republicans talk about you so much, because they want to run against you.” [MSNBC, 10/31/07]Update
: MJ Rosenberg
at TPM declares Edwards Won
"But, of the three heavyweights, I was most impressed by Edwards. He combined toughness and vision. Somehow I can imagine that Edwards' agenda for America would have a name like "New Deal" or "Great Society" in other words a rubric that suggests that his program for America would be larger than just his persona. I like that. I'm not so sure about the others.
I think Edwards will win Iowa and then we'll have a real race, one with an almost level playing field. It is not over. That is the main thing I learned last night.
Not over by a long shot."
I'm happy to hear the praise of the critics, but it's very clear none of them believed him when he said he has taken on the big interests before in the court rooms, and beat them at their game.
Madame Clinton, you, along the Re-thugs, represent those big interests and the double talk from the 1990's.
I would not underestimate the one who is the most authentic and will bring about positive change for our country: John Edwards. He's the son of a millworker.
Labels: Barack Obama, benny's world, Chris Dodd, Debates, Democratic Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Presidential Race 2008, Primaries, pundits