Tales From the Spin Room

A few glimpses of post-debate chatter from the UNLV Spin Room:

- No one has anything to ask Mark Penn. The Hillary strategist stands there surrounded by a gaggle of shifting, near-silent reporters. What is there to ask? Hillary acquitted herself well. The debate raised no questions about suppressing documents in presidential libraries. She didn’t seem to exploit her gender. She hadn’t blundered over drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants. In fact, in a funny twist, Penn himself brought up the subject of licenses, calling it the “big issue of the debate,” presumably because this time it was Barack Obama who had given a less than concise answer . And her opponents hadn’t furthered the charge that her vote on the Lieberman-Kyl amendment was tantamount to authorizing war on Iran. “The big change in the race was that they were going to attack her,” Penn said. In that respect, they were “unsuccessful tonight.”

- Edwards brain Joe Trippi would beg to differ. Hillary did stumble, hesays, by thinking she can “laugh off NAFTA” by joking that all sheremembers is “a bunch of charts.” (Read the exchange here .) “Well, there are lots of human beings” who were hurt by the trade deal, and he thinks it’s “really going to hurt her.”

- Obama guru David Axelrod says the takeaway point of the debate isthat Obama is “a guy who can answer complicated issues.” About thatiffy answer on driver’s licenses? “He answered the question directly.”What about when Obama compared Hillary to Giuliani and Romney and theaudience booed? “I don’t think [the audience] was a representativesample of voters.”

- A spokesman for Dennis Kucinich blames the media for the fact that his candidate isn’t a frontrunner: “You heard all the people cheering for him. Do you ever wonder why that is?” I ask him why. “The media” created the Hillary-Obama-Edwards narrative. Kucinich trails in the polls because he’s not getting enough attention in print. I decide to save my question–about whether Kucinich would be traveling to Rachel, NV, the UFO-sighting capital of the world–for another time.

- For every talking head in the Spin Room, there’s a volunteer standing nearby, holding a big sign with the spinner’s name on it. The kid holding the sign for Howard Dean, a UNLV student, told me he had beat out two other people who wanted to carry it. I asked him which sign was the most coveted. “This one or Rosario Dawson,” he said.