Another Clinton comeback on the cards as Biden dithers about Democratic race
Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30
The sound you may be hearing from the Hillary Clinton camp in three days is lip-smacking in contemplation of the future.
Overnight, the queen bee of the Democratic race has grabbed control of the campaign again with a superb debate performance and, even better, Donald Trump continues to lead by double digits in many state polls on the Republican side.
Also, Joe Biden is revealing himself as the Hamlet of the White House - unable to decide whether his campaign will be, or will not be. The dithering by the VP has helped Clinton lock down the inevitability factor.
While Biden is still expected to get in, timing is everything - and he missed a gilt-edged opportunity when Clinton was on the ropes a month or so ago.
Now he is likely to be accused of opportunism and being 'Johnny Come Lately', as the Democratic campaign is already in full swing.
Mainly, he has just dithered - sending conflicting signals and undermining his own case with an impatient press corps keen for a battle royale between two members of Democratic Party royalty.
Biden's hesitation and Hillary's stellar debate performance means strains of 'Hallelujah' can be heard for Clinton backers, who were behind a wailing wall in the run-up to the debate. Back then, the candidate floundered in the spider's web of the email mess and deep doubts were being expressed as to her electability. Biden was being touted as the likely saviour.
Hillary was also suffering a slew of accusations about classified emails, covering up the Benghazi scandal - where the ambassador to Libya was killed on her watch as Secretary of State - and many other alleged misdeeds. It seemed her message was unable to get out.
Then came redemption from two unlikely sources. The first was Republican Majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who admitted the Benghazi investigation committee was really about dragging down Hillary's polling numbers - a clear case of someone telling the truth and being castigated for it.
Then, in the first debates, main rival Bernie Sanders growled that he had heard quite enough about the email scandals and he wanted to deal with more substantial issues. A grateful Hillary grasped his hand and shook it in fervent thanks. Yet she should never have got in such trouble to begin with - the Clinton campaign had only themselves to blame. By deliberately holding down the number of debates they allowed the GOP to dominate the conversation - when, of course, they focused on Hillary's misdeeds.
Hillary should have joined the battle much sooner but, as it turns out, letting Trump have all the attention has worked in her favour.
A close associate of the candidate stated that they are absolutely salivating at the thought of facing Trump. The billionaire businessman has proved that the power of celebrity rules, even in presidential politics (if you watched 'The Apprentice' you're 60pc more likely to vote for him) but, sooner or later, reality itself will catch up with him.
Even if Trump flattens out, next in line in the polls is the enigmatic Dr Ben Carson, who holds social views a little to the left of Genghis Khan, and who has persuaded the evangelicals, above all, that he is their saviour. Between Trump and Carson they have spent zero days running any political office and have no political record to speak of.
While Americans are yearning for a new face, it's impossible to imagine them entrusting the country to commanders-in-chief who have never served a political or military office in their life.
When you contrast that with being First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State the difference is stunning - and will become even more evident as the debates continue. What America heard from the Democratic debate was just how prepared Hillary Clinton is for the election battle ahead.
They were suddenly reminded of all these years with Bill in the White House, and the crises they endured and eventually solved.
By any measure, Clinton had the best economic results of any recent president and Hillary never ceases to remind voters of the job growth and balanced budget they bequeathed the nation.
America listened. Even though young supporters of Bernie Sanders dominated the internet polls, the actual polls showed her making up a seven-point deficit on Sanders in New Hampshire.
The nightmare scenario for Clinton was losing both Iowa and New Hampshire, which would have left her deeply damaged. Now she is ahead in both.
In a debate with the hypomanic Trump, Hillary - with her cool and calculated approach - would surely win by picking deep holes in his impassioned arguments.
Questions like 'how do you intend to deport 11 million people or pay for a 2,500-mile border wall?', and 'explain how this budget would not cost the American taxpayer $10 trillion?' - as estimated by financial experts - would surely take him down a peg or two.
In reigniting her candidacy Hillary was once again reaffirming the Clintons' ability to get off the canvas and score with a sucker punch.
During Bill's initial run in 1990 the Gennifer Flowers story seemed to have done for him, as the seedy aspects of the affair leaked out. He kept fighting and managed a second-place finish, which won him the title of 'The Comeback Kid'.
Twenty five years later his First Lady looks like she is following the same path. What was clear from the first debate was that she was a Ferrari competing against Fiats. Sure, there may not be the same excitement around her, a solid midwestern Methodist, but she sure knows policy and detail.
In the end, the polls say America will pick between that and a flashy businessman, or a very right-wing former surgeon. If that scenario holds, there seems little doubt which way America will go.