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John Wayne's Holster: My Take on the GOP Presidential Debate
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Take on the GOP Presidential Debate

In case you missed it, the Republican candidates for President squared-off on Tuesday in a debate hosted by FOX News (watch it here). I will not go into to a break-down of the debate, as there are plenty of web sites and blogs that have already done. Rather, I would just like to offer a few observations and address some potential fall-out.

Going into the debate, former New York governor Rudy Guiliani and Arizona Senator John McCain were battling for the lead in the polls. Other candidates were still trying to break into double digits in the polls.

Although their were no real suprises, the pool of candidates should begin to thin after the debate. Going into the debate, there were ten declared candidates: Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former New York governor Rudy Guiliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, Arizona Senator John McCain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.

The three front-runners (Guiliani, McCain and Romney) all fared well. I think Romney gained the most, as he presented himself well and was strong on the issues. McCain started slow, but seemed to gain momentum as the debate progressed; however, he did begin to reveal that he is a Beltway insider. This could go either way. It may hurt him if voters perceive him as unprincipled or left-leaning. On the other hand, it may help him if he is seen as a someone who is willing to reach across the aisle to get things done. Guiliani also fared well, but has a real flaw. Traditional conservatives do not support his views on abortion or gun control. However, Rudy is doing his best to make the election about national security. On that issue, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the field. But will it be enough to make voters ignore his liberal position on other issues?

Who were the losers?

Brownback, Gilmore, Tancredo, and Thompson all had poor performances and did not appear confident or “Presidential” to me. Brownback in particular looked particular weak to me, appearing more like a politician who gave carefully measured answers. In my opinion, these guys won’t be in the race much longer.

Who imporved their standing?

Both Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter performed very well in the debate. Both appeared presidential and were strong on the issues. The problem for both of these guys comes down to fact that they are not well known to voters outside their home turf. Fund raising is also an issue, as the three front-runners have bigger piggy banks. While I think these guys will hang around for awhile, they will eventually drop out for the above mentioned reasons.

Ron Paul is another story. He was definitely burr under the saddle in the debate. Reflecting on his left-leaning or libertarian views, some questioned if he was seeking the nomination for the right party. His views on 9/11 were also prety contoversial and evoked the only real fireworks of the debate. Paul claimed that “blowback” from American foreign policy played a large role in provoking the 9/11 attacks. Guiliani took exception to those remarks and challenged Paul to withdraw them - which he did not. Frankly I think Rudy was grandstanding to divert attention from his left-leaning positions mentioned above.

Now some Republicans are trying to silence Paul. Accordingly, “Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis said he will circulate a petition among Republican National Committee members to ban Paul from more debates”.

In my view, this would not be a good move by the GOP. For starters, although I think Paul overstates his views, I think he does has a legitmate point concerning our foreign policy mistakes - but I will save that topic for another posting. Regardless of how I feel about Pauls’s views, I think they will make for a good debate and will force the candidates for be more forthcoming on their positions.

Over the course of the next few month, the current pool of candidated will begin to thin. There is still a possibility that Newt Gingrinch and/or Fred Thompson will enter the race at some point, but until that time comes, I will avoid discussing their views in any detail.

Stay tuned!


At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that the Republicans are trying to undermine Ron Paul. This is a primary where Republicans need as many voices as possible. The Democrats have much tougher candidates and money. This war on Paul demonstrates that the Republicans aren't serious about winning. There is no candidate that inspires me. I'm extremely pessimistic.



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