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Philly debate fallout

The Los Angeles Times writes, "After searching for ways to rattle Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and stem her momentum in the Democratic presidential race, her chief rivals believe they have found an opening: what they cast as her evasiveness on several key issues... On at least five issues raised in the debate, Clinton replied in ways that left it unclear what she meant or what action she might take. That practice has worked for her in the past, permitting her to avoid positions that might antagonize voters, particularly the less partisan ones important to victory in the general election. But the limitations and potential perils of her approach were driven home at the debate in Philadelphia."

Here's the AP's Fouhy: It could be a long two months for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton if she continues to sidestep questions on big issues… [B]y avoiding questions on important issues -- from Social Security overhaul to driver's licenses for illegal immigrants -- Clinton risks playing into a narrative her rivals are eager to establish: that she is slippery, evasive and overly political."

The Washington Post's Kornblut and Balz add: "Clinton strategists grudgingly acknowledged that the performance in Tuesday's debate in Philadelphia was not her finest and they sought to contain the fallout. They worked to clarify her muddled response to a question about whether she supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- she backs it, they said  -- and quickly produced a video, titled 'The Politics of Pile-On,' splicing together in rapid-fire fashion her rivals' attacks from the event."

The Wall Street Journal editorial page jumps on what it sees as the return of "Clintonesque" and writes under the header: Hilliam Clinton.

The New York Times looks at the power of the immigration issue here: "Like the debate over Iraq, the exchanges over granting licenses to illegal immigrants underscored the tensions for Mrs. Clinton as she seeks to court various interest groups who are the building blocks of winning the Democratic nomination. She has recently intensified her efforts to win the caucuses in Iowa, where an influx of illegal immigrants has raised concerns among many of the state's long-term residents. But she must also court Hispanic voters who are expected to wield greater clout this election season through early primaries in New York and California."

"[A] closer look reveals one thing Clinton has been quite explicit about -- that as she campaigns, she is being careful to preserve her options as president if she goes on to win," the Boston Globe writes in a front-page story on the candidate. "While her speeches, debate performances, and policy prescriptions often feature hedging, Clinton has been startlingly straightforward about her refusal to be pinned down."

The Globe, in fact, outlines her stances on various major issues in which she "has declined to make specific promises."

The Washington Post fact-checks Clinton's answer on the Clinton Library records, as well as the GOP attacks on her over the issue. "Republicans lack credibility when they criticize the Clintons for dragging their feet on the release of presidential records. The 2001 Bush executive order reversed many of the gains made during the Clinton years on access to government archives and release of secret information. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton should not pretend she is an entirely innocent bystander. It is clear that former presidents have considerable say in deciding which of their records get released, and that influence is increasing all the time."

The Biden-versus-Giuliani sidebar from the Philly debate is still percolating. "It was a rare case of a candidate who is leading in national opinion polls firing back at a candidate who is trailing far behind. Many campaigns are reluctant to do such a thing, for fear that it would simply serve to elevate the lesser-known candidate. But Mr. Biden may have touched a nerve by questioning the crime-fighting credentials of Mr. Giuliani, a former New York City mayor."

More: "The contretemps was notable for two more things. Mr. Biden was effectively taking a page from the Giuliani playbook by training his fire on one of the other party's leading candidates. Mr. Giuliani usually takes aim at Mrs. Clinton; Mr. Biden singled out Mr. Giuliani. And in its response, the Giuliani campaign took a page from the Clinton campaign, which wears its attacks from Republicans as a badge of honor. 'It is increasingly apparent,' Ms. Levinson said in the statement, that  'Rudy is the one the Democrats are most worried about running against in the general election.'

The Biden campaign fired back at Rudy's camp with this statement last night: "Rudy Giuliani seems to be increasingly worried that Joe Biden is questioning his lack of leadership and his use of 9/11 for his own political purposes," said campaign manager Luis Navarro. "This criticism is grounded in reality: there are numerous examples of Mr. Giuliani using 9/11 as a substitute for real experience and real answers to important topics. In the spirit of Halloween, Rudy, if the dress fits, wear it."

And the Boston Globe has these post-debate questions. "Is it the beginning of the end for Dennis Kucinich?" In Iowa, "Will Bill Richardson benefit from being the nice guy?" And "Can Joe Biden or Chris Dodd get a bounce?"