A performance that would have been adequate were she not struggling to stay in the game. Her conviction that the media is biased against her seemed to throw her off throughout, and she was too distracted by her frustration with Obama and the press to truly shine. Occasionally got caught up in jargon and Washington-speak but still delivered some detailed and decisive moments. Overall, veered between strong and effective, shrill and affronted.
Substance: Was unable to demonstrate substantive superiority on the issues something she did regularly in the earliest debates. Still, unfurled some solid, comprehensive answers for instance on health care when given an opportunity.
Style: Gracefully handled the inexplicable decision of the moderators to begin the debate with two questions challenging her on matters of political process. Then bristled when confronted on NAFTA. Awkwardly referenced last weekend's Saturday Night Live sketch which mocked the apparent overt media favoritism toward Obama cute on the stump, but it was inappropriate in this forum. Was too hot on trade and health care, evincing further irritation. Still, undaunted 'til the last minute.
Offense: Launched flabby, vague attacks that neither pinned down nor ruffled Obama.
Defense: Did not present a clean response when challenged on health care or trade. Acted defensive, and at times off-kilter, when challenged by the moderators and Obama.
By Mark Halperin