Wonkery: Look at the healthcare flap. Her vague attacks on Obama’s plan, that his would leave 15 million people behind, were easily dismissed thanks to Obama’s willingness to get into why people do not have healthcare. His spec knowledge (a little parliamentary debate lingo for you) threw her off her game so she couldn’t find a decent response.
Ability to Debate: Sure, Clinton on the attack seemed to make Obama seem nervous. But towards the end of the round, it was clear she was desperate as in this quote Phil mentions. She became inchoate. Just because she maintained her composure while speaking in total nonsensical terms doesn’t mean she kept it on an even keel. It just means that she’s beating Mike Gravel. And every shot she took was so premeditated that she had no follow-up… he would take the hit, remain standing, and she’d be shocked.
Connecting with the audience: I don’t know if Clinton was ever able to play off her audience, but Obama sure did. In an audience that was supposed to be non-partisan, Obama was able to get the crowd on his side — particularly when he self-deprecatingly addressed the “Cult of Obama” issue. Clinton, on the other hand, sounded vicious with her “change you can Xerox” line, and made a pretty cynical emotional appeal with her “People ask me how I do it” line. That wasn’t just ineffective, it was almost insulting to those interested in the primary enough to know that this was the question asked in New Hampshire.
ALSO: Did anyone notice the end? Obama got up first, held Clinton’s chair as she got up, then went to shake the hands of the moderators, waiting patiently for one of them to finish her closer? Hillary walked over to her daughter. I’m assuming that the hope here was that following her “emotional moment,” the press would capture her embrace with her child. Instead, the camera followed Obama gallantly smiling and shaking hands.