The word on the street is that Hillary Clinton was the star performer during last week’s Democratic presidential debates held in Las Vegas.

Pundits across the United States crowned the New York senator queen of the night with just seven weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses.

The Los Angeles Times, for instance, said that although Clinton’s challengers to the throne, Barack Obama and John Edwards, tried to knock her from her position at the head of the pack, they didn’t succeed.

“After spending the first seven Democratic presidential debates largely above the fray, the senator from New York fired back, suggesting that Obama had failed to take a strong stand in favour of universal healthcare,” suggested Los Angeles Times writers Mark Barabak and Scott Martelle.

The New York Times offered up a similar summary of the evening’s events.

“The most striking change from the seven previous debates was that Mrs. Clinton no longer stayed above the fray, and instead addressed her rivals by name, criticizing their positions and rebutting them as much as the moderator would allow,” wrote Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny.

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register not only suggested that Clinton turned in the most solid performance but added that her rivals “blew it. Barack Obama had only an average night, and on a couple of questions he seemed flummoxed.”

Healy and Zeleny were not so sure the debate was a washout for Obama.

“The most memorable moments were between Clinton and Obama. They duelled over health care and then over social security, with Obama repeatedly portraying the former First Lady as a traditional politician out of touch with average people.

“Clinton, in turn, suggested that Obama does not understand the partisan nature of Washington, and therefore would not be able to accomplish his ambitious goals.”

Yepsen, on the other hand, wrote that “observers can also give lots of points to two of the second-tier candidates, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson. They turned in articulate, Presidential-style performances during the evening.”

Bryan Ochalla © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.