Hollywood Democrats say Hillary Clinton delivered a polished performance at the party’s first primary debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday, reminding voters just how strong a candidate she really is.
Clinton strengthened her position as the Democratic frontrunner after turning up the heat on her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the party’s first showdown, energizing her supporters and donors in the entertainment industry.
“She struck just the right note,” L.A.-based Democratic political consultant Donna Bojarsky told TheWrap. “She showed experience, she showed that she is prepared, she was smart, thoughtful, funny, and she showed the appropriate intensity.”
“Hillary schooled them all on policy and presence,” said Jennifer Gonring, CEO of Gonring, Spahn & Associates, which helps raise money for Clinton. “Hillary stepped forward with passion, poise and a command of the issues that Americans care about. I think she cut through the noise and really connected with people last night, and that’s what debates and elections are really about.”
Even Husband Bill Clinton chimed in, firing up an email to Clinton’s supporters Wednesday morning.
“Last night, Hillary knocked it out of the park,” the former president wrote. “That’s what Hillary does when she sees a problem to fix: She gets people together, takes on the tough fights, and finds her way to a solution.”
During the most memorable moment of Tuesday’s debate, rival Bernie Sanders gave Clinton’s supporters another reason to smile when he came to her defense.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think that the secretary is right,” Sanders said to thunderous applause. “And that is that the American public is sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” adding, “Enough of the emails!”
Clinton shook Sanders’ hand and thanked him.
“As a Hillary supporter, one was excited and inspired and motivated,” Bojarsky said. “And as a Democrat, I couldn’t be prouder,” adding jokingly that, “Bernie Sanders should get a cabinet post in Hillary’s administration. He did her an enormous favor.”
Clinton showed her strength yet again when asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if she had a response to rival candidate Lincoln Chafee’s harsh criticism of her vote to approve the Iraq war.
Clinton simply said, “No.”
“That was my favorite moment of the night,” Bojarksy said.
According to many major publications, Clinton was the clear winner of the debate. “Hillary Clinton won — by a landslide,” said Politico. While the Wall Street Journal declared she showed “relentless efficiency.” The New York Times called her performance “the best day of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.”
CNN Democratic commentator Van Jones went as far as saying that “Hillary Clinton was Beyoncé. She was flawless.”
But perhaps the greatest indication Hillary did well was the reaction she got from Donald Trump, who told ABC News on Wednesday, “She got through it fine,” adding, “It was a very kind debate, very gentle. She came out the winner.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated Chafee criticized Clinton over her use of a private email server. It was over her vote to authorize the Iraq war. TheWrap regrets the error.