With Strong Debate Performance, Did Clinton Take All the Wind Out of Biden’s Sails?


The possibility of a late entry by Vice President Biden into the 2016 sweepstakes has been premised at least in part on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s weaknesses as a possible Democratic nominee.

But after Clinton turned in a sterling debate performance here Tuesday night, rebounding from what had been a terrible summer on the campaign trail, Democratic officials were abuzz about the implications for Biden, who has spent the past several months weighing a bid and is poised to announce a decision later this month.

In the spin room following the debate, Clinton’s allies as well as senior Democrats who have not taken sides in the primary said a debate that is likely to give Clinton a needed jolt of momentum also may have sucked a lot of air out of the Biden balloon. How, they wondered, could Biden now convince donors and other top Democrats now backing Clinton to abandon her and join his campaign?

Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Clinton supporter who attended the Las Vegas debate as a surrogate for her, all but said Biden could not.

“Neither Hillary nor I want to weigh in on the vice president’s decision-making here,” Villaraigosa said. “This is a decision he’s making with his family. But if you’re asking me, ‘Did she look unbeatable tonight,’ the answer is, ‘yes.’ Is she the candidate the Republicans fear the most? The answer is, ‘yes.’ Did she look presidential, calm, deliberate, passionate about the issues? The answer is, resoundingly, ‘yes.'”

The official line from the Clinton campaign was that they were thrilled with the candidate’s performance and that Biden had to make his own decision.

John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman who worked closely with Biden in President Obama’s White House, made clear how difficult a campaign against a resurgent Clinton would be.

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SOURCE: Philip Rucker 
The Washington Post