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Another Debate! Great!

Republican candidates for President held another debate last night in South Carolina, site of the next primary on the 19th of this month, hosted by Fox News and the SC GOP. These things are getting better all the time, although I still prefer the format of the ABC New Hampshire debates.

Not much new ground was covered, so I'll just give my impressions of how each candidate did, in order of finish by my reckoning. Feel free to disagree in the comment section.


Fred Thompson clearly won this debate. I can't imagine anyone who watched it thinking otherwise. His supporters were no doubt pleased, although left wondering "Where have you been?" The last two debates, and the stretch run in Iowa, saw a different Fred Thompson than we have seen since he entered the race.

Rudy Giuliani
tied for second place, coming back from a couple of lackluster performances. He needed it, but it also comes as he pulls his staff and advertising from SC to concentrate on Florida - a poor signal to send to those who might support him in nine days.

Mitt Romney also did very well, and I rated him equal second place. Nothing spectacular, though. McCain was close behind in fourth place (with a tie for 2nd, the next guy is 4th). Neither did anything to hurt their chances in SC or elsewhere, but neither did they change the contests in their favor.

Huckabee didn't perform badly, but he did take some damage on his foreign policy views. This may have an effect in South Carolina, a state with a strong military tradition and large veteran population. However, his overall showing wasn't bad at all.

Paul lost, but even he defended himself about as well as he could have. I presume the questioners wanted to minimize the time wasted on him, else they could have destroyed him with follow-ups on his newsletters.


In conclusion, Thompson won clearly, but not going away, and the 2nd-5th place contenders didn't lose much last night. Neither did Paul, of course, since his support is far more "faith-based" than Huckabee's (just in a different "faith").

Watching these "debates" in both parties throughout the campaign, I feel confident in predicting the Democratic nominee, no matter who it is, will try to keep debates to a minimum, perhaps only two, and insist on a "townhall" style being one of them. This will tend to keep substance to the side. The Republican (whoever it is among the top five) will and should offer to debate anytime, anywhere, every week for the duration of the campaign. A cadre of people in chicken suits should be recruited to follow the Democrat around.

Debating frequently is the Republicans' best hope of victory in November. Well, maybe "second best" after the defective nominee the Democrats will present.


UPDATED to equalize bold emphasis.


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Comments (6)

"A cadre of people in c... (Below threshold)
marc:

"A cadre of people in chicken suits should be recruited to follow the Democrat around."

Wasn't that tried after the Lilly-livered Dems all said they wouldn't debate anywhere Fox hosted a debate? (Of course that all changed when they had a book to pimp or like Shillary who "humbled" herself and appeared on Fox and Friends just before the NH primary. Shills one and all.)

Maybe I was just wishing it were true... like the PaulBots that once again showed their a** by spamming another text poll.

More chicken suits and more... (Below threshold)

More chicken suits and more cameras are needed.

Perspective is everything, ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Perspective is everything, isn't it Jim? I didn't see the debate last night but have watched a number of others.

The best description I've read yet of the Republicans is five gray scowling old men hunkered down behind their desks. Bring em on.

I won a $50 pre-debate bet ... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

I won a $50 pre-debate bet last night in predicting that Fred Thompson would win Frank Luntz's "focus group". My logic was based upon the agendas FOX has going with this nomination process. Despite Mr. Thompson offering virtually no specificity on ideas and, in fact, offering very few actual ideas at all, this group "concluded" that Thompson was victorious. Yes, he was a more forceful in his arguments, but again, they were of little substance.

This tactic utilized by FOX News is apparently effective as this is the third consective time now that a Wizbang author is in lockstep with these focus group results. Of course, we do know that FOX was caught red-handed using plants and actors in these groups and they are not genuine. This is further evidenced by the fact that the past focus group "winners" went DOWN in the polls in subsequent days.

This is all dependent upon one's definition of "winning" the debate. My understanding is the purpose of the debate is to get people to vote for you. A candidate can be full of facts and self-accolades, but appear snotty and unlikeable as Mitt Romney did in New Hampshire and it will lead to a loss in the election (despite the FOX focus group insisting he won). On the other hand, a candidate can be generic and hapless in fending off attacks, but still so congenial that folks really like him -- like Huckabee in the Iowa debate (which the FOX focus group proclaimed was a "Huckabomb") -- and he will improve his standing in the polls.

So, from the perspective of who improved themselves as a candidate last night, I think the winners were McCain, Giuliani and, gulp, Ron Paul. McCain is ahead in these two upcoming primaries and just needed to maintain his safe, presidential posture. He accomplished that last night along with Giuliani. I absolutely disagree with Paul on content, but he sounds so darn innovative to the uninformed. I think we'll see a point or two uptick in his poll numbers over the next few days. Per my definition, that is the measure of success in a debate.

I think Huckabee may have lost a bit of ground in Michigan, but gained in South Carolina. For Christians, he answer to the setup question on wives' submission was a home run. To Michiganers, his refusal to explain the fact that the tax intake in Arkansas actually decreased in comparison to the rate of inflation really hurts him. He had no problem laying all that out during the post-debate interview... he should have done it an hour earlier.

I think Romney has to be considered the loser last night because his campaign is reeling and he did nothing to stem the tide. He was lost in the crowd because his self-aggrandizements have grown tedious. His demeanor was less condescending though, so that's an improvement.

JFO - "The best descrip... (Below threshold)
marc:

JFO - "The best description I've read yet of the Republicans is five gray scowling old men hunkered down behind their desks. Bring em on."

Really... that only proves you really are a DKos Kiddie, because you obviously read that comment (assuming it's not a lie) there. And BTW, speaking of the deranged fool, DKos is trying to usurp the Democratic process so his boy Obama has an easier road to the WH.

Marc,the world suf... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Marc,

the world suffers fools like you. Sometimes I wonder why.




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