How nasty will it get in Vegas?
Tonight, the Democrats will gather in family-friendly Sin City for yet another debate, and as they prep for this face-off, John Edwards and Barack Obama must be calculating how far to go in assailing front-runner Hillary Clinton. And she must be wondering how sharp to be in return.
The latest Iowa poll from The New York Times and CBS News depicts the race in the Hawkeye State as virtually a three-way tie (Clinton, 25 percent; Edwards, 23 percent, and Obama, 22 percent). Such results presumably scare the Clinton machine. If she falls in Iowa, so too does her campaign's double-sided argument of inevitability and electability. These poll numbers are obvious encouragement for the two men with the best shot of toppling her--and a sign that their recent moves might be working.
In the past week, both Obama and Edwards have intensified their attacks on Clinton. At the Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Iowa on Saturday night, Obama, in a fiery speech, declared:
The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won't do in this election. That's why not answering questions 'cause we are afraid our answers won't be popular just won't do. That's why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won't do. Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do. If we are really serious about winning this election Democrats, we can't live in fear of losing it....
I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over....They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House....
I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting, and voting like George Bush Republicans. When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran....I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.
Whether or not the tired Iowan Democrats realized it, this was all an attack on HRC the hawkish, triangulating, hyperpartisan kingpin of conventional, lobbyist-fueled Washington politics--though Obama never mentioned her by name. He was offering a contrast deeply unkind to Clinton without coming across as a slasher.