For the second time in eight years, her firewall of presidential inevitability has been breached (or, should we say, hacked?) by an unsuspecting intruder. First, it was a Spock-eared novice from Chicago named Barack; now it's snow-haired socialist from Vermont named Bernie. Since spring, her favorability numbers have been in a steady plunge while the tick-tock stories of a campaign in distress are pumping out at a rate that usually comes only after a candidate has dropped out.
But Tuesday night could be viewed as the reset button that Clinton has desperately craved: a friendly audience, some respectful sparring partners, and questions that emphasized policy over scandal. Without being stress-tested, it's difficult to divine too many things about the trajectory and strategy of her campaign, but these things became clear:
SHE'S DONE APOLOGIZING FOR EMAILGATE
After months in which she slowly, reluctantly made concessions that her email server was a bad idea (politically, at least), Clinton demonstrated Tuesday night, with some recent political headwinds now behind her, that she's back on the offense. Addressing a question by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper — who waited nearly an hour to broach the subject — Clinton only reiterated her previous concessions that it was a "mistake" to host a private server while she was serving in public office, but that she has continued to be "as transparent as I know to be." She then quickly pivoted to the recent comments by Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who implied that the House committee investigating Benghazi had effectuated its purpose by driving down Clinton's poll numbers. But, Clinton said, "I am still standing."
HER LATINO VOTER REACH-OUT EFFORT HAS COMMENCED
Even though there was only minor distinction between the candidates on immigration policy, Clinton wanted to keep the issue aloft long enough Tuesday night to make a general election statement: "There is such a difference between everything you are hearing here on this stage and what you heard from Republicans who have demonized hardworking (immigrants), who have insulted them." Without specificity, Clinton added that she would "go even further" with immigration executive orders than President Barack Obama has done.