Six Hillary Clinton ABC News St. Anselm College, New Hampshire Democratic Party debate themes relevant to the 2016 presidential general election

Jeff Berkowitz: But, Hillary, if the Russians don’t do that and violate the “No Fly Zone,” would you shoot them down?  Yes or no, Hillary.

You see, Martha, that’s how you handle Hillary, when she is ducking and dodging.  Be civil and respectful, but firmly demand an answer. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.   

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-Hillary will be the Democratic Party’s 2016 Presidential nominee

Hillary Clinton, unless she incurs a physical disability, e.g., heart attack, stroke or encounters a freak occurrence, e.g., plane crash or hit by a bus, will be the Democratic Party nominee for President.  Senator Bernie Sanders, because he is from the neighboring state of Vermont, may win New Hampshire, but that’s it for Bernie. Even the Democratic Party is not ready to make a self-declared socialist its presidential nominee.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is lucky ABC let him on the stage.  No one seems to know why he should be taken seriously as a candidate.

-Hillary, eye on the General Election

So, this reporter will report on this debate by discussing some of the statements that Hillary made that could be relevant to a general election Presidential contest.  Indeed, Hillary seemed to treat this debate as a forum to be used to communicate with voters who are thinking about the choice between Hillary and a Republican nominee. In a sense, we will follow Hillary’s lead, and ignore Martin and Bernie.

-Democratic Party’s focus is not on terrorism

Although most of the nation is still focusing on the loss of more than 130 lives in Paris and 14 lives in San Bernardino due to what is clearly either ISIS directed or inspired terrorism, Hillary and her debate opponents seemed much more passionate about correcting what they see as income inequality in the U.S. and fixing other economic and social domestic policy ills than making America safer from terrorism and other national security threats.

- Hillary’s middle class? Bottom 99%

Hillary discussed counter-terrorism and foreign policy last night, but she gave the impression that her main goal was to make life more comfy for middle class voters—who she defined as families with incomes of $250,000, or less—meaning that she thinks 99% of America is in the middle class.  Apparently only Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Hillary and a few of their friends from Martha’s Vineyard and Aspen are outside the middle class. It is a peculiar view for a person who is about to be nominated by the Democratic Party for President without a credible challenger.

6.  Unlike President Obama, whose goal until recently was to “contain” ISIS, Hillary, the President’s first choice for Secretary of State, has a strategy “To defeat ISIS [but] without getting us involved in another ground war,” or even to use minimal combat troops. She would (1) deprive ISIS of the territory it now occupies in both Syria and Iraq, (2) dismantle ISIS’s global terrorism network and (3) “Do more to keep us safe.”

5. Hillary emphasized she, as President, would fight ISIS with an American led air campaignABC’s moderator, David Muir, didn’t follow up and ask if this was consistent with President Obama’s policy of “Leading from behind.” Nor did Muir ask just what Hillary meant by “Doing more.” Hillary said she would use Kurdish and Arab troops on the ground. She also said she would “Go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.”  A bit vague, but moderator Muir again didn’t follow up.  Nor did Muir ask if there was anything Hillary would do that is not being done now.

4. At home, Hillary said we have to do the “Best possible job of sharing intelligence and information” and “work more closely with our great tech companies,” who she said can’t see the government as an adversary and we can’t see them, she said, as obstructionists. Again, moderator Muir didn’t choose to get some details here. Maybe next time Muir will do follow-ups. This reporter would note that Martha Raddatz, to her credit, did question Clinton later in the debate about law enforcement not being able to crack into certain communications by suspected terrorists, even with a court order, due to encryption tools sold by the phone companies.  Raddatz asked if Hillary would favor a law requiring the phone companies to give law enforcement a key to encrypted technology in such cases.  Hillary said no, and again ducked and dodged by saying she hoped we could handle those situations with a “Manhattan-like,” project.  That’s kind of like Bill Clinton responding to the question, “Was there sex with that woman,” by saying, “It depends on what your definition of is is.”  I mean Hillary’s response was an obvious dodge.

3. Hillary also said, “We must work more closely with Muslim-American communities,” and perhaps as an example of what she meant, she said, “I met with a group of Muslim-Americans this past week to hear from them about what they are doing to try to stop radicalization.” But, then Hillary didn’t tell us what the Muslim Americans are doing to stop radicalization. Muir, who asked the initial question on this topic, didn’t follow up. Muir couild have asked, “Was there an organized effort by the Obama Administration to do this? When Hillary was Secretary of State? More recently? What was done along these lines in San Bernardino.  Again, ABC’s Muir didn’t seem to think journalists are supposed to ask follow-ups.  Or, if Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley were real candidates, they could have asked Hillary. But, they are not- so they didn’t.

2. Moderator Martha Raddatz broke custom at ABC and asked a somewhat challenging question, from the right, of Hillary, “…Our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, are the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?”  After ducking and dodging by Hillary, Raddatz finally got an answer from Hillary: “Guns, in and of themselves…will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence, arming more people to do what—I think is not the appropriate response to terrorism.“  Might have been nice if Raddatz had followed up with this: Hillary, if someone in the social service center in San Bernardino had a gun in her purse, or a high powered rifle in her office, do you think they might have been able to get off some shots and perhaps save a few lives?  Or, maybe this, some quick fact checking by my colleagues at ABC informed us that 2/3 of those 33,000 lives you just cited as “lost to gun violence,” were lost to suicide. If those suicidal folks couldn’t access guns, you think they might have offed themselves with aspirin or razor blades?   Should we have more aspirin or blade control?  In any case, you still want to blame those 22,000 suicides on gun violence?

1. Hillary came out for a “No Fly Zone,” over Syria, to prevent the outflow of refugees and to “Give us a chance to have some safe spaces. Raddatz pressed Hillary, “Would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane.” Clinton dodged, “I do not think it would come to that…”  Raddatz: “But isn’t that a decision you should make now, whether….if you are advocating this.” Hillary: “…The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.”  Berkowitz: But, Hillary, if the Russians don’t do that and violate the “No Fly Zone,” would you shoot them down?  Yes or no, Hillary?   You see, Martha, that’s how you handle Hillary, when she is ducking and dodging.  Be civil and respectful, but firmly demand an answer. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.

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