NYT’s Haberman Cheers Hillary’s ‘Best’ Debate Performance

During an appearance on PBS’ Charlie Rose on Wednesday night, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman heaped praise on Hillary Clinton’s debate performance and proclaimed that her campaign was popping champagne corks from her New York headquarters “to Nevada where the debate took place.”

Haberman gushed that Clinton had a “very, very strong night by all accounts” and despite the fact that “expectations were low” this was “the best I've seen her in a debate. She was loose. She looked like she was having fun.”

The Times reporter enthused “the reality is she [Hillary Clinton] is a very good debater...She was very good in 2000 as well as a U.S. Senate candidate. So it was not a surprise...” After fill-in host Al Hunt admitted that Haberman’s assessment of Clinton who “looked like she was having fun” during the debate was “not something you associate usually with Hillary Clinton” she continued to tout Hillary’s performance: 

She really seemed to be enjoying herself. And I think that she was comfortable going on the offense against Bernie Sanders. She was doing it carefully. She was watching her tone. She was not sounding nasty. She was not sounding like she was belittling him

Hunt did acknowledge that Hillary “avoided the smugness that sometimes has marked her” and Haberman agreed “[s]he can sometimes look like she is talking down to the person when she disagrees with them and that was the risk” but continued to praise on the strategy she used against Bernie Sanders: 

She also knew what punches she wanted to get in and she had early openings on guns, which was a very early one. She was able to defend herself well on the Iraq War which Bernie Sanders actually did not address with her, her vote for authorizing force in Iraq in 2002 which he had sort of signaled ahead of time he would. But she basically used President Obama as a shield at that point. And it was a really interesting moment. She had a very good night.

Roger Altman, longtime Treasury Department official for Presidents Carter and Clinton, chimed in that the debate format allowed Hillary to go on the offensive and be in “control” all night: 

The whole set up allowed her, I think, to do that. First of who she was debating against. Also, we can all debate this, people will have have different views. I thought she was the only one who actually looked presidential. Sanders did fine at a certain level but I don't think he rose to that level of presidentialness. And I got the sense as I said, she sensed that early on in the debate and it allowed her to just be confident and relaxed. But she was in control. 

See relevant transcript below. 

PBS’s Charlie Rose

October 14, 2015

AL HUNT: The three other candidates challenged Clinton but largely struggled to share the spotlight. Joining me now is Maggie Haberman. She has covered Hillary Clinton extensively and is the presidential campaign correspondent for the New York Times and a political analyst for CNN. And Roger Altman, he’s the founder and executive chairman of Evervore. He was deputy treasury secretary in the Bill Clinton administration and is now a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Welcome to you both. Maggie let me start with you. Over at the Brooklyn headquarters of Hillary Clinton are they popping champagne corks today.

MAGGIE HABERMAN: From there to Nevada where the debate took place and where much of her staff was. They were very happy with her performance. She had a very, very strong night by all accounts. I think that the expectations were low, which helped her but the reality is she is a very good debater. She did something like 25 of these in 2008 against candidates who were seen as much more viable, potential presidential nominees. She was very good in 2000 as well as a U.S. Senate candidate. So it was not a surprise but she was, I think, the best I've seen her in a debate. She was loose. She looked like she was having fun.

HUNT: Having fun which is not something you associate usually with Hillary Clinton.

HABERMAN: Correct and that is something that you have really seen her do much of on this campaign. You had Jeb Bush say that thing about wanting to run a joyful campaign, once upon a time. This has been a joyless campaign for all involved certainly on the Clinton side. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. And I think that she was comfortable going on the offense against Bernie Sanders. She was doing it carefully. She was watching her tone. She was not sounding nasty. She was not sounding like she was belittling him. 

HUNT: She avoided the smugness that sometimes has marked her. 

HABERMAN: She can sometimes look like she is talking down to the person when she disagrees with them and that was the risk. But she also knew what punches she wanted to get in and she had early openings on guns, which was a very early one. She was able to defend herself well on the Iraq War which Bernie Sanders actually did not address with her, her vote for authorizing force in Iraq in 2002 which he had sort of signaled ahead of time he would. But she basically used President Obama as a shield at that point. And it was a really interesting moment. She had a very good night.

HUNT: She hit Bernie on the left from guns, she hit him a bit on the right from capitalism. She really was on the offensive for most of these issues. 

ROGER ALTMAN: The whole set up allowed her, I think, to do that. First of who she was debating against. Also, we can all debate this, people will have have different views. I thought she was the only one who actually looked presidential. Sanders did fine at a certain level but I don't think he rose to that level of presidentialness. And I got the sense as I said, she sensed that early on in the debate and it allowed her to just be confident and relaxed. But she was in control. 

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates PBS Maggie Haberman Al Hunt Hillary Clinton

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