For Democrats, This Is Starting to Look Like 2008

But with Sanders in Clinton's old role
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2016 12:44 AM CST
Dem Debate Points to Long Fight Ahead
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton respond to debate audience members at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus.   (Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today via AP)

Wednesday night's fiesty Democratic debate in Florida was the last one on the schedule, but analysts say the biggest takeaway from the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders clash is that these two are going to keep the battle up for a long time, possibly until June. Commentators are split on whether to declare it a draw, a Sanders win, or a Clinton win. A roundup of reaction:

  • This was Sanders' best chance to change the course of the race and keep momentum going after his upset win in Michigan, but he couldn't get a game changer, despite an impressive effort, according to Aaron Blake at the Washington Post, who really liked Sanders' brown suit. Clinton, meanwhile, "avoided a disaster and came out as the better debater, yet again," he writes.
  • Dan Balz at the Washington Post writes that with tense exchanges over issues such as immigration, climate change, and the auto bailout, nothing was settled, but the stage was set for a "grueling and increasingly contentious battle that could continue until the primaries end in June." The Democratic race, he writes, is now starting to resemble 2008—but with Clinton now in Obama's shoes, and Sanders in Clinton's former role as the "dogged challenger hanging in against long odds."

  • Sanders displayed his "political steel" in this debate, where transcripts reveal a "metronomic recitation of succinct anti-Clinton attack phrases repeated over and over and over with deadly, aw-shucks efficiency," writes Glenn Thrush at Politico, who calls the debate a draw.
  • Matthew Yglesias at Vox declares Sanders the winner, partly because the moderators were more focused on Clinton's weaknesses and partly because Sanders is "making policy commitments that are well to the left of where the Obama administration is while downplaying the idea of a sharp break between himself and the popular incumbent president."
  • One thing became very clear Wednesday night: Clinton and Sanders are really starting to get under each other's skin, according to Ben Kamisar at the Hill, who notes that Sanders seems likely to continue his attacks on Clinton's paid Wall Street speeches—and is now calling for superdelegates to switch sides.
Click for some of the debate's best lines. (More Election 2016 stories.)

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