May 03, 2007
Republican Debate Roundup
Some might consider this a bit off topic, but if there's a bigger political story out there right now I'm not aware of it, and since such posts always seem to get a robust response in the comments, here we go with some initial thoughts on tonight's Republican Presidential debate, with your input requested at the end:
John McCain - very solid on content, with some good lines such as "follow him to the gates of hell" (referring to pursuing Osama bin Laden). Yet, his delivery seemed a bit off at times and during a couple responses he just seemed, well, old. A tough topic to bring up, but an impression some viewers probably got regardless.
Rudy Giuliani - compelling answers at times, but just at times. At first I thought his fumble over the African-American question might be his gaffe of the night. Then his repeated stumbles over abortion questions were brutal. There's a way for a pro-choice Republican to express a position on abortion without causing oneself undue grief from the pro-life community. Rudy botched that in spades.
Mitt Romney - quite good in my view, though I'm probably biased. Regardless of one's personal view of Romney though, he's the least well known of the "Big Three." Thus, he had the most to gain from people actually seeing him in action. He showed he's affable, articulate, and competent. He also handled his share of the "gotcha" questions reasonably well. One could quibble with some of his answers, but a strong showing on a big stage validates his status as a leading contender to those not familiar with him.
Fred Thompson - oops. Never mind. I will say after tonight it would be nice if he got into the race sooner rather than later so people can size him up for real. Giuliani is still my second choice after Romney, for now, but his continued unforced errors on hot button, primary issues are disenchanting.
Mike Huckabee - a compelling stage presence tonight. Charismatic, witty, and intelligent. Too bad he's floundering in the money race and in just about every other gauge of success thus far.
Tommy Thompson - very solid on the issues it seemed, but totally lacking in the charisma needed to be on a Presidential ticket. That's too bad. A popular governor from a blue/purple state in the Midwest could have some real potential as a VP nominee.
Duncan Hunter - same problem as Tommy Thompson. Intriguing responses to several issues, but doesn't convey the "it" factor people expect from Presidential candidates.
Jim Gilmore - not great, not bad. Nice to see him raise his voice a bit with Chris Matthews to answer the obnoxious question about Karl Rove, and probably best that a lower tier candidate handled that dirty work of getting forceful with the moderator.
Ron Paul - well, if you're a radical anti-government libertarian then he's your guy.
Tom Tancredo - I've never been impressed with him and that opinion didn't change tonight, but he got a raw deal from the moderators in the questions posed to him (and to others in reference to him).
Chris Matthews - I probably didn't dislike his performance as much as some, but a number of his questions were exceptionally inane. Say, for example, trying to ask a "yes" or "no" question to the field on one of the more complicated public policy issues of the day, stem cell research. Way to think it through, Einstein.
Politico moderators - the online questions from Jim Vandehei seemed ok, but John Harris's periodic stroll onto the stage to ask his questions of the candidates really seemed to detract from the flow of the event.
Alright, those are my first thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Have at it in the comments. And while you do, Presidential staffers are frantically working on memos to make sure their respective candidates can answer the Sunni v. Shia question smoothly and correctly.
UPDATE: Eek. In the comments, Pudge catches my ommission of Sam Brownback above. See, all the more reason to shrink the field for the next debate. So many candidates you can't even list them all in a debate round-up.
Ugh. I suppose there was a reason for that oversight though. Brownback was like Huckabee, though without the charisma or the humor. Just kind of bland, like a number of the lower tier candidates. Nice guy. Respectable Senator. But not presidential material on appearances.
Posted by Eric Earling at May 03, 2007
10:14 PM | Email This
1. If the debate is with a democrat=Democrat 'you might as well be talking to the wall!
I just feel sorry for whoever the nominee will be for the Cons. With the stench of Bush everywhere they go, I don't think the winner will have a prayer. There is just not enough warmongerers, or Talibangelicals anymore. Good thing there is no shortage of the deliverance types.....
You know, I didn't hear any of the candidates talking about accountability......
3. Sadly, I have to say I think the Demos have better candidates this time. The top three Republicans do nothing for me. Too bad Arnold can't run....
I was very impressed with Ron Paul. He stood out as the only candidate that opposed the war and gave a good conservative reason for doing so. I also liked his tax answer best as well. Elliminate the IRS in week one and return to a sound money system in week two.
I will register Republican and vote republican for the first time in my life if he gets the nomination.
5. Gee, Lies... your post was so.... insightful.
6. For a sundry list of reasons, not one of these people have a chance in the difficult race to come. McCain, Romney, and Rudy are all too flawed and/or distrusted or despised by the wack-a-loon base to get the nomination. Thompson is an unknown, so there's a maybe. Otherwise, short of the Second Coming, nothing can save the R's IMHO. Thinking about it a bit- Jesus is probably a Democrat...
You're right, Eric. Tancredo did get a raw deal from the moderators. For the first 15-20 minutes, he didn't get a question directed at him. He was also cut short on his answers a few times. I don't think there was even one question on the topic of illegal immigration, other than the one to McCain on having Tancredo be head of the INS.
In every opportunity he had though, he gave a solidly conservative answer. I though it fitting that he was placed to the right of everyone there.
8. RON PAUL winner
9. Ron Paul a radical?...its a sad day in America when adherence to the Constitution gets you labeled a radical. All the guy does is use the constitution as a guide for his congressional votes.
10. Ron Paul a radical?...its a sad day in America when adherence to the Constitution gets you labeled a radical. All the guy does is use the constitution as a guide for his congressional votes.
Being a McCain fan, I'm inclined to say he won. I mean come on, "follow him to the gates of hell!" Are you kidding me -- that's golden!
Rudy clearly floundered.
Huckabee looked sharp -- you're right about that. Maybe he's Veep material?
Romney didn't look bad either, in my book he gets honorable mention in 2nd place overall. I thought he answered the question about his faith especially well.
The rest of the guys had a purpose: to make the top three look electable. They did that tonight.
Get the long and short of why McCain won here + roundup from conservative blogosphere.
McCain's whole "Gates of Hell" things sounds like right out of the mouth of John Kerry's unresonant plea that he would "hunt them [the terrorists] down and kill them".
As dumb as our national IQ is, baby talk just doesn't work anymore.
I'm inclined to believe McCain when he says things like that. And that's a plus, for me. Not enough to win me over, but it's something.
I missed the debates, but it sounds like there were no big surprises. Fred Thompson remains the wildcard.
My favorites remain: Giuliani, Romney, McCain in that order. We still have a long way to go.
14. I didn't read your post, Eric, before writing mine. Looks like we made some of the same impressions.
I will announce here the Republican '08 ticket:
Tom Tancedo - David Duke '08
Thank you, Republicans, for protecting the lily-white Americans from "unfair" competition from the minorities of the world.
Let's build a big wall from Seattle to Miami, Maine to California. That way the lily-white Americans will never have to encounter anyone whose color happens to be a shade darker than albino nor will they ever have to hear a different language.
Tancredo - Duke '08
Thank God that Christians don't have to love their neighbors!
So exactly who died and left Chris Matthews the only broadcaster able to moderate this "debate". The snide side quips, talking over answers, injecting opinion, Blog questions from outer space, Chris Matthews was just like Dave Mathews only more hairspray and straight.
We gained no useful insight from the candidates last night and we will not until we get a more rational venue, with an intelligent moderator.
I have to second Jonah Goldberg's take
on the Ron Paul supporters who come out of the woodwork to create faux Internet support (see comments above) for a guy that probably shouldn't even be on the stage for the next debate. Go home. No one cares.
18. Sorry to be off topic but I have to respond to David's Comments.
David this is talking about the debate. Yet you claim you know the ticket and that the Republicans are racists. This is a typical Democrat plan. Claim the other guy is racist while they themselves are the most racist and bias. You have proven once again that liberals are racists. I saw no racist comments. I saw common sense comments. But because of your attack on Tom I need to look closer at what he thinks. If he is a danger and needs to be labeled, he must be doing something good.
I am still not in any camp. the key Features I am looking for but have not seen. Strong on Military, Strong on Secure the Borders and Immigration, Strong on making US self reliant on energy. That includes Nuclear power which David hates. Common sense enviromental Policies. A strong voice to send strong Messages to the UN to correct many of their failures. A corrupt UN is no good for the world. Corruption in the 90's is their legacy.
Yet the issues that could set the Republicans apart from Democrats never seem to be asked. I agree that Chris Mathews did a poor job. But could it have been on purpose to make the Republicans look weak. Not sure.
Bring on the A team. Last night was a warm up for the audience by the B team.
A team - Fred Thompson - Newt Gingrich
I may be the only person in here who has actually voted for Romney. I was a delegate to the convention where he was nominated for governor (though I didn't get to attend for family reasons).
I was entirely certain that Romney would pick up big points once he started getting exposure, and he didn't disappoint me in my expectations. He won the governor's race in a Catholic, liberal, Democrat state for a reason.
His only real stumble was explaining his change on abortion, and this may be the biggest killer for him in the end. He repeated himself, almost word-for-word, when he addressed that question, which is almost always a Bad Thing. I think most people are still going to see him as changing his view for political reasons; his assertion that he became pro-life "two years ago" rings hollow, as he was thinking about running for President before that.
That said, I have no doubt that Romney was "personally" pro-life long before that. When we elected him governor, it was widely understood that he was pro-life, but was simply refusing to -- given the state he was running for office in -- try to change Massachusetts to follow suit.
I agree with Eric also on Giuliani and McCain.
I love what Ron Paul has to say, but he is my Alan Keyes of 2008. I supported Keyes in '96 and '00 (I even designed part of his web site in '96), but not because I wanted him to be President, but because I wanted his views to be heard. I guess I am a radical anti-government libertarian because I believe the Constitution should be followed. I don't apologize for it.
But Paul would make for a poor President, because he doesn't have the experience, the demeanor, or the connections to get things done. A small-government, non-libertarian, conservative like McCain or Thompson would have much more success in keeping the size of government small because they would have much more ability to work with the Congress to achieve those goals.
And while I do agree fundamentally with Paul's broad view of foreign policy, Paul failed to properly address some of the real reasons we are in Iraq. Yes, if we were only in Iraq for "nation building" then we shouldn't be there. But the legitimate concern driving the whole affair is the devolution of a region that poses serious threats to our security, if left unchecked, and Hussein was a driving force in that devolutionary process.
I don't think we have an obligation to bring liberty to every part of the globe, but an increasingly radicalized Middle East poses a unique threat to us, and while Hussein was no Bin Laden, the manner in which he ruled his country radicalized both his own population, and the people of the surrounding nations.
Anyway. Moving on.
Brownback and Huckabee and Gilmore and Hunter and Tancredo and Thompson all did well, but not great, and didn't really distinguish themselves. Tancredo did set himself apart as the anti-illegal-immigration candidate, and Gilmore and Hunter were effective at pushing their conservative credentials, while all of them showed themselves to be competent of the issues.
Eric, you -- and everyone else -- forgot to even mention Brownback, so I guess he couldn't have distinguished himself at all!
Matthews was terrible, as usual. Eric, you think the going down the line for yes/no questions was bad, and I agree, but Matthews after the debate said that was his favorite part. He has fundamentally flawed judgment on such matters. I've known it for awhile, wathing him on and off for years: he honestly, truly, believes that it is these inane questions that are the most interesting.
So you believe that Jesus Christ would have been pro-late term abortion. He would have been pro-gay marriage. He would have been a racist. He would have been pro-big incompetent government. If that were true (I don't think so) he would have been a Democrat.
BTW, I don't think he is a Republican either. Maybe a Libertarian. Most likely apolitical.
Romney was slick, like Willie.
Guiliani appeared to be positioning himself for the General Election already.
McCain couldn't figure out if he should be looking toward the General Election or if he should be looking to the Republican primary first.
SAT fact of the day: Paul:Republican as Chavez:Democrat
Thompson-hoping the other Thompson enters the race so he might gain votes by accident.
Tancredo and Hunter are in it for the short run.
Gilmore and Brownback are like Nixon v. Kennedy in 1960. Might be the brightest, but the media won't fall in love with them.
Huckabee, should advance to the next round, where I hope there will be fewer faces on the podium so the public can compare them better....
Romney, Giuliani, McCain, Huckabee, Fred Thompson and the wise Newt all advance to the next round where they might as well take questions from Bill and Hilary as the moderators, wouldn't be any different from handing the mike over to Matthews.
I think they did as well as could be expected given who the moderator was. They certainly showed more class, guts, and tolerance in accepting and attending this debate than the Dems did in refusing any forum co-sponsored by Fox.
In a reverse scenario, I wonder if the Dems would accept Michael Savage as a moderator. Rush? Hannity? If they did, would their answers be perfect? Would they look as polished and knowledgable as they supposedly did in their first debate?
Would they tolerate similar stupid questions as were posed to these Republicans?
They don't have the guts to let us find out.
The big question:
If the Republican candidates can take stupid, inanane questions from Chris Matthews, it shows they can be tough on terrorism- the only issue. But, if the Demcrats can't take soft ball questions from creampuff Bret Hume, how can they be expected to be tough on terrorism?
Just asking, Dem leaning posters.
25. The Repubs were trying to be too nice - in the face of a partisan-Democrat hack moderator. Don't put much stock in this debate. If/when Fred Thompson gets into the race, things will become more interesting. However, in the future the candidates need to ward off the stench of mediocre debate moderators.
26. Dhimmy, I'm thinking that you, Tancredo and Duke REALLY ought to get a hotel room. KWIM?
I admit that I went into this somewhat biased towards Huckabee, but he did nothing but strengthen my favor for him. I think he is an outstanding candidate, with outstanding character, and I am very disappointed that he will probably not get the money required to be a real contender. His stance on the faith of a candidate really stood out to me, even though it was a gross atempt to pit him against Mitt.
Outside of him I was most impressed by Romney. His charisma will carry him far, and I think his "change" of opinion on abortion will not be a huge factor.
The biggest failure of the night was Rudy. He is one of the "big three" yet looked like he didn't know if he should even be on that stage. If he plans to make it over Romney he is going to need some serious work before the next debate.
My fear is that a Republican will have little to no chance in the '08, but that really depends on who the D's nominate.
Here's hoping for Huckabee....
28. I wonder if Chris Matthews wants Fred Thompson to get the nomination, and therefore made all the candidates there look bad.
Ron Paul a Radical? Ron Paul is the only member of congress who takes the constitution seriously and makes sure his votes are authorized by the most important document ever created.
We are truly lost as a nation if this behavior makes one a radical. If back in 1808, we looked at candidates the way we do today, Lincoln never would have been elected, and we might very well be the Confederate States of America.
30. Thompson/Huckabee (1st choice) or Romney/Huckabee (close 2nd) for the '08 ticket!
Wonder if there's a Evolution litmus test for the Presidency? Seems like at least of candidates shot themselves in the foot on that one.
Thankfully America is not Kansas.
32. With only Tancredo stepping up to oppose inside Beltway interests, we may seeing the end of the republican party as we know it.
Cato: it was a dumb question. For most thinking people, there is no rational one-word (or hand-signal) answer to "do you believe in evolution." I believe the evolutionary theory is valid, but I have no basis for concluding whether it is a satisfactory explanation for the existence of man; the science has not yet shown that man has evolved, nor has it explained sentience, nor has it explained how life itself first began.
So while I believe in evolutionary theory, if you asked me if I believed "in evolution," I could not give you a reasonable one-word answer, because for many people, that means that man's existence can be explained by the evolutionary process, and I happen to know that so far, it can't be.
34. Swatter at 24: You're right on!!!