A deeply flawed performancebut good enough to continue his forceful push towards the nomination.
Substance: Did not attempt to demonstrate more specifics than in past debatesand clearly didn't think he had to. Threw out bromides-masquerading-as-policy on college costs and health care, but little else.
Style: Brilliantly and poetically played the Democrats-all-agree-on-so-many-things card that Clinton regularly used when she was ahead. Also adopted her crowd-pleasing brand of anti-Bush rhetoric. Occasionally let her get under his skin just a tad, and sometimes flashed a bit of annoyanceperhaps making him seem ungracious.
Offense: Tweaked her just enough on her vulnerabilities (divisive image, failed health care effort in the early '90s, Iraq war) to keep her off balance.
Defense: Got the crowd on his side with his pushbacks on talk-versus-action and plagiarism chargeswas calm and stylish and firm, if a bit chilly. Filibustered regularly, as if to run out the clock.
OVERALL GRADE: B+by Mark Halperin
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