Hillary and Carly on "Meet the Press.

Hillary and Carly on “Meet the Press.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton is the first choice of 42 percent of primary voters, Sanders is in second at 35 percent and Joe Biden third at 17 percent. No other Democrat gets more than 1 percent. [NBC/WSJ Poll]

IF YOU want to see women in politics this morning was your champagne brunch on “Meet the Press.” Chuck Todd was tough on Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, but one thing really stood out. Clinton remains on defense, though her campaign had to be very happy about her performance today, because she was as good as she’s been all year. Fiorina is on offense, aggressively assertive, no matter the facts she was confronted with from Chuck Todd.

From the new NBC/WSJ poll

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are running neck and neck in the national Republican presidential horserace, while Carly Fiorina is now tied for third place with Marco Rubio, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has lost ground to Bernie Sanders — she leads him by just seven points with Joe Biden in the race, and 15 points without the vice president. That’s down from Clinton’s 34-point lead over Sanders in July and her whopping 60-point lead in June.

The establishment money crowd, from Steve Rattner to Andrew Sorkin, decries Carly Fiorina’s record as a CEO. Her response matches perfectly the mood of the Republican base voter. Her approach to stay on offense on her failures is defy, distract and attack, which is working well with the Republican base. Todd pushed as hard as he could on the Planned Parenthood falsehoods that Fiorina tripled down on today.

Strong and wrong beats weak and right, especially in a Republican primary.

Hillary Clinton was open and communicative on the email/server issue, but she’s still faced with a reality that this event has changed her position in the race for the president, which would be part of the general election. That’s the damage she took responsibility for on “Meet the Press” today, which revealed that she knows she could lose this contest over it. Her interview was strongly defensive, though her answers were good. Clinton clearly understands what this year has cost her candidacy.

What can hurt Carly in the general, her documented record as a failed CEO, is unlikely to damage her primary hopes. For Hillary, it’s a lot more complicated. Clinton’s handling of the server/email is a bigger issue now than the initial attacks for the private server. It has hurt her poll numbers, so that Sanders is a threat. It has also opened the conversation for Joe Biden to jump in. No one caught it, but I thought it was significant that Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden made an impromptu appearance at the Global Citizen Festival last night, broadcast on MSNBC. He may not run, but he looked very much like a presidential candidate to me.

Fiorina’s biggest obstacle to winning the nomination is the reticence of Republicans to put a woman at the top of the ticket. However, any Republican (minus Donald Trump) looking on at this “Meet the Press” interview has to believe she’d be a fierce vice presidential pitbull against Democrats, especially if Hillary Clinton prevails.

Hillary’s primary problem, even considering her southern wall, is that she doesn’t seem to fit the mood of this election cycle. It’s Bernie Sanders that perfectly represents the political mood of the country, but Democrats question his electability, though if he could win the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, all bets would be off. Joe Biden doesn’t see Sanders winning a general, and he clearly knows Clinton is vulnerable.

As for Bill Clinton taking up her offense with Fareed Zakaria, it’s not like Hillary can control him. I know I’m in the minority here, but as much as I respect President Clinton, the candidate’s husband coming in to make the case against Republicans, and for his wife, is not what I want to see. It’s natural as spouses, but it’s not very modern. This is not 2008, contrary to too many Democratic allies of Clinton. Women want to hear Hillary make her case, not Bill, as much as we love the Big Dog. I think people will be surprised that President Clinton can make news, but won’t be able to help Hillary until she gets the nomination, which is still in question.

It’s a first for our country to show girl power like this from both political parties. If you don’t like me referring to these two accomplished women in those terms, well, I’m old enough to embrace that fierce part of me at my core that is my unflinchingly courageous girl power. That undying, unflagging energy that is the foundation of my womanhood and reminds me that no matter my age it can be drawn upon to fight the best and most important battles of life.