This time a little more coherently. I know this debate, like all others, is colored by where it was held (New Hampshire, more libertarian leaning and moderate than some other early), but it was still, I thought, a productive and well done debate. In order, I suppose, of my likelihood of voting for them …
Ron Paul – I really liked that the moderators actually did ask the questions I wanted to hear him answer, namely how his anti-war stance will effect our overall war on terror. He didn’t get a lot of mic time, but he sure wasn’t ignored either. As big a fan base as he has, I still think some of his most important contributions to the public debate are happening right now, and perhaps being missed. He is injecting some sanity into this debate, or at least trying to. His pleas to the other Republicans to wake up should not go ignored, and his answer regarding the hypothetical push to war with Iran was especially good. His ‘win’ in post-debate polling is especially impressive. This wasn’t a ‘spammed’ poll win for him, at least that sure doesn’t seem likely, as it was a text-message only poll.
John McCain – He recaptured his magic last night. He seems so much more comfortable right now, and seems to enjoy his underdog status. His answers on torture, immigration, and the war all showed a strong command of the issues and the leadership ability that seems unmatched among the field. His run to embrace the right really turned me off, but now that he’s back to being who he is, I could easily see myself voting for him in the primaries or general election.
Rudy Giuliani – He surprised me the most last night. He did a great job answering the question about his personal issues, and did not back away from his record concerning immigration. His answer on Gitmo was not satisfying, and I remain somewhat unconvinced what his plan is re his foreign policy.
Mitt Romney – Yeah, my comparison to Bill Clinton was apt, I think. He is a very good communicator and knows how to come across as likable. He also comes across as slick and unbelievable, someone who’s going to say exactly what you want to hear. Frankly, what he’s done as governor is better than what he’s saying he will do as President. Still, if he’s the nominee, I’ll give him serious consideration. His ‘tough on illegals’ stand is my biggest turnoff, as it is simply a sop to the extreme right wing.
Mike Huckabee – Kudos to him for calling out the anti-illegal crowd, speaking truth to power and calling out the inherent racism present in some nativist circles. His debate with Paul about an immediate withdrawal was the highlight of the night, and he made his point every bit as effectively as Paul did. On the other hand, his proposal that the government should track people as efficiently as UPS and FedEx tracks packages is just about the perfect example of everything that’s wrong with today’s Republican party. So scary it gave me shivers. Nonetheless, he comes across as a decent guy, and his good standing in post-debate polling may be a sign of his ability to jump into the first tier.
Now there’s a big drop-off in my likelihood of voting for these guys …
Duncan Hunter – gave a good answer on the Iran hypothetical, bad ones on immigration especially. Did not really do a lot to stand out.
Sam Brownback – felt bad for the guy. First photos come out of him giving a speech in NH to a room of 3 people, then the post-debate polling won’t even give us a percentage for his standing. Nothing he said stood out.
Tom Tancredo – Could not be more wrong on the immigration issue. McCain laid the smackdown on him big time on his answer about torture. Just did not seem like he should have been on the same stage as Paul, McCain, et al …