First off – This debate was multitudes better than MSNBC. Chris Matthews, whom I don’t hate, made the debate too much about him, and the format and questions were significantly better. One thing that was still wrong is that there are about four or five too many in the pack. However, the law of natural selection will weed out the field, it’s just taking too much time!
Here are some comments and the grades on the debate in no particular order.
Sen. McCain – Strong on Iraq – “They’ll follow us home”. The taxcuts – which he opposed – need to be permanent. He is strongly opposed to “enhanced interrogation”. He got a good laugh on his drunken sailor line. He also showed a good deal of faith in the bipartisan working together of Congress – which has been lacking for awhile in Washington. All in all, he seemed much less caffeinated than the last debate, and offered some answers. Some of them just won’t sell to the base. He and Romney got into a nice little tiff, which was encouraged by FOX. Overall I’d say a solid B.
Gov. Thompson – Boy, you can tell this guy was a former health and human service guy, I mean his answer on stem cell research was thorough. He would “require” Iraq to take certain steps with regard to forming provinces and a federation – but I’m not sure that the President of the US is able to write the system of government for another country, but it’s not a terrible idea. The guy just doesn’t have pizzazz. I think he’s hit his arc as a Secretary in the Cabinet, but at least he didn’t put his foot in his mouth as he did last time. Grade of C and time to go home.
Gov. Romney – Didn’t get to hog the mike as he was allowed to on the MSNBC debate, but did well. He is being painted as a lib and some of the base will likley remember this – and it may hurt him. Sen. McCain’s comment about changing positions by year or office is meant for him and was a pretty good zinger. He wants to put benchmarks on the economy and that idea sounds fairly good. Not as good as last time and he took a few hit. B+
Sen. Brownback – I have to say that I really “hated” his answer on abortion with a rape victim. I know some may like his view, but I find it rather offensive. I liked some of his remarks concerning energy have merit. He would like to see more consensus with Iraq between Republicans and Democrats, which I would like too, as well as having a million dollars in my account. He didn’t hit any out of the park, and his numbers won’t go up. I just don’t see him as the next President. Grade of C and time to go home.
Rep. Tancredo – He was a good deal less nervous tonight, but still seems a bit on the squirrely side. He would like to see some real cuts in Medicare and shelve NCLB. He gets a good yuck on the conversions with Road to Des Moines when compared to Road to Damascus. Much better than the first night, but still has no chance to win. His campaign will die out from lack of oxygen. Time to go home with your C+.
Mayor Giuliani – He was much better on the abortion issue with articulation of a clear policy – which we all knew. He talks about his differences with Sen. Clinton on economic issues. When it came to terrorism and defense he hit the ball out of the park and spanked Rep. Paul pretty soundly. The crowd livened up and you can tell he was pretty angry at the remarks of Rep. Paul. This will be the headline and the soundbite when he stepped in – not polite, but showing leadership. He also had to love it when Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney were sniping at each other. A very good night for Rudy, and he’ll get a bump after a few tough weeks. B+/A-.
Rep. Paul – Well the Fox snap phone poll has him winning, which shows you how unreliable those phone in polls are. He is very different and very libertarian with regard to Iraq. He may score points with some by saying US policies are part of the 9/11 equation, but that will not sell with the base. At this time he is just serving comedic value. He may be toast with the base, but his non-GOP views may help him as a maverick, but he has no chance at all, not that he ever did. Grade D and probably a note to go home.
Rep. Hunter – A lot of the NAFTA and Free trade gang will hate this guy because he doesn’t want to tank our economoy to prop up Communist China. I like this guy! I like that his son was in Fallujah – speaks volumes about him. He feels that Iraqis are starting to bear more of the burden of the war and this will increase. I think he’s bucking for Sec Defense job. B+
Gov. Huckabee – The guy has a way of working the audience; I guess it comes with the preacher territory. He scores the yuck of the night with the John Edwards haircut joke, and makes a few pointed barbs with abortion and Giuliani’s position. Overall he does well, he relates to the people well and may stay around after this debate. Grade B+
Gov. Gilmore – Don’t send us to a website unless it is mine! Gov. Gilmore takes the attack mode, going after the front runners labeling them as “Rudy McRomney”. All this does is allow the front runners to have the opportunity to defend their positions. He doesn’t really answer the questions too directly, and for that he may have hurt himself. Grade D+ and a note to not come back to class.
Who helped themselves Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter
Who got hurt Rep Paul, Gov. Gilmore, Gov. Thompson, Sen. Brownback, Rep. Tancredo
Who stayed pat – Sen. McCain, Gov. Romney
Hopefully, the field will be seven with four going out, and a presumed entrace of Sen. Thompson for the next round. We’ll see.