In case you missed it: GOP Debate Recap
In case you missed it, and in case you care, you can read my recap of Sunday's GOP debate at:
As that article was reporting rather than analysis, let me add a few words of my own opinion about the candidates (in alphabetical order) here:
Rudy Giuliani: I thought Rudy won the debate. He defended himself well against the claims of not being "a real conservative". He came across as funny nad personable. He projected the image of a real leader (which I believe he is.) Although all the candidates went after Hillary, I thought Rudy's attack was the most effective when he said that "America can't afford you!" (speaking through the TV to Hillary.)
Mike Huckabee: A strong performance with fairly limited camera time. He made well-received points that "there is nothing funny about Hillary Clinton being President of the United States" and that he wasn't very interested in attacking other Republicans...he was "happy to let them shed their own blood, and then (he'll) be ready to run for president."
Duncan Hunter: Seemed to lapse into only marginally relevant information which was in his area of expertise, such as taking nearly a minute to describe the recent success of a missile defense test. Additionally, he made what was to me a nonsensical argument that since our trade deficit is so big, we should impose tariffs and use that money to help with the cost of entitlement programs. Basically he demonstrated that he shares the common incorrect opinion of the relevance of a trade deficit.
John McCain: Did a good job, especially coming across as principled and experienced, but lacked a bit of passion. He got the only standing ovation of the evening when he mentioned that he was "tied up at the time" of the Woodstock concert. He was strong on the issues and understood the value of free markets in solving problems. But still, I felt much more interested in John McCain the man, rather than John McCain the candidate. And still, as I've said before, I would not vote for John McCain unless he repudiated McCain-Feingold as the assault on the First Amendment that it is.
Ron Paul: While he made some good points about Republicans having forgotten about the constitution, he was booed more than once for attacking American foreign policy as too interventionist, saying that "we don't need to go looking for trouble", and blaming the current tensions between Turkey and terrorists in northern Iraq on our Iraq policy. I really enjoy Ron Paul's steadfast defense of the constitution, especially when it comes to how to think about domestic issues like entitlements. But his rhetoric about US foreign policy, even if he is correct that it is "nation-building" or "too intervenionist" is so strident that he is fast losing credibility among all but the most "libertarian" wing of the GOP.
Mitt Romney: Gave one of the weaker performances of the evening, including an incredibly confused statement about building a house (which you can read in the Human Events article linked above.) He did not defend himself as well as he could have against charges of not being "a real conservative" and didn't help himself with conservatives when he hedged on Social Security reform by saying "I'm not prepared to cut benefits for low-income people." It may be true...indeed it's fine if it is true...but it should not have been his leading point about Social Security reform. Also, John McCain's continuing attacks on Romney have hit their target more than once in recent weeks, including McCain saying on Sunday that Romney was fooling people about Romney's record but McCain wouldn't let Romney fool people about McCain's record. If there was a loser in the debate, I think it was Mitt Romney.
Tom Tancredo: Along with Duncan Hunter, got very little time to speak. He was eloquent and accurate in most of his statements, although I wish he hadn't been so predictable as to bring up illegal immigration in relation to health care policy. The media doesn't take Tancredo seriously as a candidate, so he doesn't get enough time to make a real impact on the audience. I suppose that's reasonable since there's no way he could get the nomination or win the general election. Tancredo is very strong on the principles of our republic; he understands that most of what the federal government does is not constitutional. Unfortunately, those very important points get drowned out by his repetition of "illegal immigration" no matter what the subject.
Fred Thompson: It was an interesting start to the evening for Fred Thompson because the first two questions were to Giuliani and Romney asking them about recent verbal attacks against them by Thompson. They responded adequately, including Giuliani's claiming that Thompson was a consistent opponent of federal tort reform legislation, and then Thompson attacked again. Although I'm only guessing, it's hard for me to believe that Thompson will win a lot of friends by being the candidate most seen to be attacking other Republicans, especially with such a scatter-shot approach. Thompson's answers to issue questions were acceptable but not intense or passionate. His best answer of the evening was probably defending himself against charges of laziness with the last question of the evening. Still, the fact that he has to answer such questions probably does not bode well.
All in all, I thought Rudy had the best night, and Romney the worst. McCain might have helped himself a bit, as did Huckabee. Thompson probably didn't help himself, but since expectations for him are still rather low, he probably didn't hurt himself a lot either.
Although I enjoy the particularly constitutional approach of Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, I look forward to a few of the candidates dropping out so we can have more intense debates among the men who actually have a chance to get the nomination.
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