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Hayes: On the Democrats

4:30 PM, Dec 13, 2007 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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If there ever has been a sure sign that I am out of step with mainstream Democratic voters, it might have come today. As I watched John Edwards look into the camera and point with that weird thumb-on-the-folded-pointer-finger gesture that only politicians do, I wondered if there has ever been a less sincere politician. The man makes Bill Clinton look as earnest as Atticus Finch.

And yet CNN reports that its focus group watching today's Des Moines Register debate believed John Edwards was the winner.

Barack Obama had the line of the debate, and it came following perhaps the only good question Carolyn Washburn asked during the two Iowa debates. Washburn wanted to know how Obama could offer a clean break with the past when he's getting advice from so many former Clintonites. Hillary Clinton cackled with delight at the question and jumped in: "I'm looking forward to hearing that."

Obama paused for a moment and replied: "Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well."

Clinton was speechless.

The other interesting moment - there were only two - came when the moderator asked Joe Biden about gaffes he has made when talking about issues of race. Biden responded that he has dedicated his life to civil rights, that the "overwhelming core of support" for his elections in Delaware comes from minorities, et cetera. He finished by saying that none of his colleagues in Congress would ever doubt his commitment to racial equality and justice. The moment he was done, Hillary Clinton interjected with a "Hear, hear!" And Barack Obama "testified" to Biden's character.

It was either a nice moment or a political one. Maybe it was both. Clinton and Obama each know that Biden is not likely to gain 15 percent support at many caucuses on January 3 - meaning that he will not be "viable" and his supporters will move to support another candidate - like Clinton or Obama.

Finally, Bill Richardson offered his New Year's resolutions: Lose weight and stay positive.

After the debate, Bill Kristol offered his own: Lose weight and stay negative.