'WInging It' — Maybe Not a Good Idea for Obama

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — as our fellow blogger Dick Morris has pointed out — is lucky to have a foil in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). And when they stood onstage at South Carolina State University last week, things were looking good for him — he was calm and smiley, while she was pinched in hyper-focus.

But it was Brian Williams's question about a terrorist attack that threw off Obama and gave Clinton the edge with her powerful, punctual and of course prepared "I think a president must move as swiftly as prudent to retaliate" response. It was an excellent answer, and "prudent" is so presidential in that George H.W. Bush way. With Obama struggling to respond later to perfect his terrorism response, during a question about global warming, it was simply advantage Clinton, hands down. It's surprising, too, because it sounds like the kind of question professional campaign staff would have anticipated.

But after the debates, as the contenders greeted the crowds individually, Clinton got more applause when she dropped her well-studied details into well-prepared remarks about the school. Obama threw out some staples like healthcare, education, et cetera, but it was bland. Plus it was delivered with his bogus Southern accent, which was almost too much to take.

Obama reportedly told some members of the press he was going to "wing it" in South Carolina. Sure looks that way.

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