Hillary Clinton went nuclear on Bernie Sanders at the end of tonight’s debate when she brought up his interview with Thom Hartmann in which Sanders called President Obama “weak” and “disappointing” and called for a primary challenger to the president in 2012. Despite Sanders aide Tad Devine’s factually challenged insistence on Hardball With Chris Matthews that Sanders never called the president weak, here’s the videotape: http://youtu.be/t8N8E1v7E58.
Sanders’ response that Senators have the right to be critical of the president was weak tea. Of course Senators have the right to differ with the president, but his extremely biting, personal comments about the president being “weak” and “disappointing” will undoubtedly be a sore spot with Obama supporters.
Clearly, Clinton is going after Sanders on these comments in order to rile and engage President Obama’s supporters heading into the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary. She followed up with an amazingly strong closing statement in which she made the point that she was not a single-issue candidate. More importantly, she broke out of what seemed to be a very managed, handled performance at times and exuded authenticity and passion.
Sanders had some good moments, and his very intelligent disquisition on American interventionism was probably his best foreign policy moment ever. But Clinton blew him out of the water at the end. Her play here may have been obvious, but it was effective.