Here are a few of my thoughts on last night's GOP Debate...
- This debate was a good counter-response to the apparent solidarity amongst the Donkey nominees. The ten men on that stage pretty much were in unison on issues like Iraq, but had their own unique approaches to how they would approach these issues.
- Chris Matthews interrupted and talked over the candidates too much, but I'm not surprised. He was not the man to be moderating this debate, but to be honest...he could've been a lot worse about talking over and interrupting the candidates, as well. I give him about a "C" rating at best. Kudos to the GOP for going onto MSNBC and letting a known Democrat moderate your debate...unlike the Democrats, who refused to hold any kind of debate between their own candidates on Fox News, for fear of being asked real questions, I guess.
- I never realized how right Hunter Golden has been about Mitt Romney's ability to cultivate his own image. He does have a very slick, polished way about him. I think Romney came out of this debate in better shape than when he went in. He did take a definitive stance, and explained his past changes on issues in a very dignified, reasonable manner. My wife, who relies a bit more on "gut feeling" and image than I do, really preferred Romney over the other candidates.
- People are giving Guiliani waaaay too much crap for last night. He looked extremely comfortable and "in place" up there, and some people are taking that as indifference, because of his more fiery speeches and actions from the past. Also, when Guiliani gave his answer about abortion, he was not flip-flopping within his own answer, as many liberal pundits have attempted to say. Simply put, Guiliani "hates abortion", as he said, but respects a woman's right to choose as her conscience can be different than his...and he also believes that abortion is more of a state's rights issue...which should appeal to conservatives who are really looking for a "smaller government". Guiliani also scores points for knowing the difference between Sunni's and Shiite's, which tells me that Guiliani subscribes to the theory of "know thy enemy".
- John McCain finally lit the fire under his backside and showed us a similar candidate to what we saw in 2000. Unfortunately, I think McCain was a much more viable candidate in 2000 than he is now. If McCain continues to keep this fire lit, that opinion of mine may very well change. McCain, as well as Romney and Guiliani, all struck me as having some strong opinions on how America goes forward in the face of terrorism. I loved McCain's statement that he would follow Bin Laden "to the gates of hell", as well as Romney's statement that Bin Laden "will die". A passion for justice is something we need to keep alive in our society.
- Tommy Thompson didn't do much for his cause, neither did Sam Brownback. Tom Tancredo was constantly cut-off by Chris Matthews, and just wasn't forceful enough to get past the cut off for the extra 5-10 seconds he was looking for. While Tancredo is a fine politician, he's doesn't strike me as someone who would make a strong executive. Mike Huckabee came across well, but I simply see his as more of a Vice-Presidential candidate. He's got a good stance, and is well-spoken, but I think he lacks any kind of "standout" qualities for voters. Duncan Hunter proved that he has good knowledge of the military, but past the Iraq and Iran issues, I'm not sure what makes him more appealing than other candidates on other issues. That being said, Duncan Hunter is one of the better articulators of his opinions, even if he shares them with other candidates. That gives him an edge over the rest of the "second tier".
-Jim Gilmore was so hell-bent on saying, "I am a true conservative, I governed Virginia as a true conservative, I will be a president who is a true conservative, I eat true conservative foods, I drink true conservative drinks, I sleep in a true conservative bed with a true conservative wife in a true conservative house". I began to feel like I was listening to a broken record with Gilmore.
- Ron Paul was arguably the most bombastic candidate up there (only McCain could really stake any kind of claim to that title), and said some things that were great in principle, but not necessarily feasible on a federal level. At least, not immediately. However, the general sense of his message, which is to reduce government's size and influence, is something that should be recognized and remembered as the GOP moves forward towards 2008.
Final Debate Thoughts: No clear winner, but the biggest mover may be Mitt Romney, and that will probably show as he should leap-frog McCain and seriously challenge Guiliani's position at the top. The biggest winner, should he run, would be Fred Thompson...as none of the candidates really jumped out as the "obvious choice".