President Clinton, again?

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Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the CNN Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas
Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the CNN Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas

Well, so much for President Joe Biden.

In Tuesday’s presidential debate for Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton was the star.

Throughout the event, she showed a command of the issues that was second to nobody with her on the platform.

With no apparent lapses as a speaker, she exhibited polish and grace.

It’s hard to imagine why any political figure not already running would dare to announce his or her candidacy. So I count out Vice President Biden.

If you watched the debate, you might not have realized that five people stood at podiums on the Las Vegas stage. Besides Clinton and a sometimes inspiring Bernie Sanders, three other candidates made brief appearances:

There was former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Navy secretary and dour Jim Webb and Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

Hands down, the main event was Clinton and Sanders. Both spoke on behalf of the beleaguered middle class. I didn’t count the times we heard a call from either one about raising the minimum wage.

But income inequality is bound to be a major issue as next year’s race for the White House heats up.

When the subject of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server came up, it was Sanders who came to her defense.

“Americans are tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” he said.

She smiled and thanked Sanders, and moderator Anderson Cooper moved on to another subject.

I thought Sanders had the most trouble defending his Senate vote against the Brady bill that attempts to put restrictions on gun sales.

I liked Clinton’s answer to the old “flip-flop” charge that she’s changed her position on big questions.

She didn’t try to pretend that she hadn’t changed. But as she pointed out, people do change their opinions as issues and circumstances evolve.

Hitting few false notes, Clinton’s debate performance should remind voters that she’s one of the most experienced – and I dare say – smartest – persons who has ever run for president in modern times.

To be sure, Bernie Sanders has managed to nudge Clinton some to the left. But that should help broaden her appeal within the party.

She’s a far better candidate than she was in her first race, eight years ago. That was, as we all recall, against Barak Obama. Meantime, she has compiled a solid record as secretary of state and U.S. senator.

First Lady for eight years must count for something, too.

In the past, I found Hillary Clinton a bit stiff and haughty. I didn’t see that Tuesday evening. Rather, she seemed warm and as human as anybody else.

Yes, she was the star.

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