The GOP Debate Part II–The candidates

Despite incredibly idiotic and biased questions by Al Jazeera West, aka the Communist News Network, the debate was won by the candidates that remembered that offering positive solutions makes more sense than bashing President Bush. The candidates that Bush-bashed want to be popular with the cool kids in the media, not realizing that if they win the nomination all the Bush bashing will not make them less hated. Here are the wins and losses.

Nothing has changed. There are three serious candidates in Giuliani, Romney and McCain. The 7 dwarfs are there mainly to create ratings, while gadfly (a polite word for nutcase) Ron Paul seems to have gotten lost on the way to his debate with Hillary, Edwards and Obama. The media loves him for obvious reasons, but he represents a miniscule view in the republican party. He is the fringe. Nothing changed, with the top tier being adults and many of the 7 dwarfs acting like they are not ready for prime time, hence their not being top tier.

Round 1: Romney won points by portraying the hindsight Iraq question as stupid. Brownback lost by wanting to partition Iraq, a horrible idea Joe Biden would like. McCain knocked Bush too forcefully on mismanagement.

Round 2: Tommy Thompson called Iraq a civil war, Duncan Hunter wants to train troops, Huckabee invoked Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul wants to sing kumbaya, Tancredo babbled about Ben Franklin while being against the surge. John McCain won the round by going hard after Hillary Clinton. McCain needs to remember that the opponent is Hillary, not President Bush.

Round 3: Everyone except Sean (or is it Pope John) Paul wants the right to preemptively drop nukes on Iran if necessary. Good! That is called keeping America safe.

Round 4: Brownback and McCain support the immigration bill, probably because it is their bill. Tancredo, Hunter and Thompson are against the bill. Romney and Rudy won the round by stating what could be done to improve the bill, with Romney saying we need to first enforce the 1986 law, and Rudy discussing tracking initiatives in a very responsible matter, as someone who actually studies issues would.

Round 5: When asked about Fred Thompson and conservative credentials, Rudy gave a solid reiteration of his abortion position. Huckabee correctly pointed out that the evolution was a stupid question that should be asked of 8th grade science teachers, not presidential candidates. Brownback was thoughtful and intelligent in pointing out that faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. McCain, Romney and Ron Paul punted effectively enough.

Round 6: Rudy caved on global warming, and McCain caved on going after big oil profits. Romney was the only one to mention drilling in Alaska, and Gilmore was the only one to bash the KYOTO treaty. Romney and Gilmore won. Ron Paul did defend the oil companies rights to profits, but then added meaningless commentary about corporate welfare.

Round 7: None of the candidates wanted to life the ban on gays overtly serving in the military, opting to keep “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Ron Paul and Huckabee correctly stated people should be judged on conduct, not orientation, but then should have voted to overturn the policy. Giuliani and McCain stated that the policy should not be changed during a war, which was a bit of a cop out. All the candidates said the policy is working, treading the line of trying to please the Christian Coalition without bashing gays. Time will tell if that is a successful straddle.

Round 8: The role for George W. Bush was answered best by Sam Brownback, who said he would ask Bush first. Thompson and Tancredo bashed Bush, Tancredo out of bitterness.

Round 9: Questions about where the GOP went wrong was answered badly by Huckabee, who offered a laundry list that would make the democrats proud. With regarding a pardon of Scooter Libby, several of the candidates were mealy mouthed, mumbling about having to read the report first. Giuliani and Romney offered fiery defenses of Libby, but stopped short of overturning the verdict. Thompson effectively compared it to Clinton, but stopped short of an outright yes answer. Only Sam Brownback said he would absolutely pardon Libby, giving him the win in this round. McCain should have stepped up.

Round 10: Bringing the troops home led McCain to criticize Brownback’s ludicrous partition idea. Unfortunately, McCain then engaged in more Bush bashing about mismanagement. Hunter supports the mission, but Rudy offered a full throttled defense as only he can.

Round 11: Stabilizing the Iraqi government gave Giuliani another chance to fiercely explain why the war in Iraq was right, and he called the media would refuse to report positive news from General Petreaus. Ron Paul acted like Ron Paul.

Round 12: The environmental questoin was handled by Gilmore and Tancredo adequately enough.

Round 13: Health Care issues were answered best by Giuliani, who emphasized the free market. Romney and Hunter did so with less force. Thompson, the so called health care expert, babbled about cutting down on paperwork.

Round 14: The most pressing moral issue was life for Huckabee and Brownback, but Huckabee handled it much better. Brownback issued a litmus test, while Huckabee went beyond the abortion question in a very thoughtful manner. RuPaul was against the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Giuliani easily won the round by again explaining why the War on Terror is the issue, not abortion.

Round 15: Romney was dignified in answering an insulting question that was beneath him. McCain offered praise to Hispanic soldiers. They won the round, and Tom Tancredo came dangerously close to brown bashing.

Round 16: Given attempts to Bush bash, McCain again took the bait, but his criticism of overspending has some validity. Huckabee offered a very fair criticism of Bush, that he does not communicate effectively. Huckabee came across as sincere, not out to score cheap points. RuPaul said America should stop trying to promote its empire. Giuliani correctly pointed out that republicans lost because they acted like democrats. He was able to do this without Bush bashing. Gilmore alluded to this, but less effectively. The other candidates totally ignored the question. Brownback spoke about cancer, which he has battled. As great as it is that he is alive and well, it was irrelevant to the question.

Round 17: Tancredo officially went nuts by offering to restrict legal immigration, allowing McCain to win the round by pouncing on this ludicrous idea.

Round 18: The way to win back the moderate republicans and independents was answered fine by all the candidates. Wolf Blitzer asked Hunter if republicans should emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Hunter was dead right in flatly saying no. Arnold has to moderate himself because California is a sinking ship of liberalism. Much of America wants a republican to act like a republican, and the candidates understand this.

Scorecard–Tom Tancredo and Rupaul boggle my mind, but only because I am clear thinking and reasonable. Tommy Thompson and Jim Gilmore were in the room, although I doubt anyone noticed. Gilmore made no mistakes, Thompson did. Sam Brownback had flashes of brilliance but lost me when he made it clear that a litmus test on abortion was required. He did say he would support whoever the nominee was, but through gritted teeth. Huckabee spoke eloquently, but he rarely goes outside his range of moral issues. Sure he was asked those questions, but it is his job to break out of the stereotype created for him. Duncan Hunter made no gaffes, but added little.

So out of the 7 dwarfs, Gilmore and Huckabee are 2nd tier, Brownback and Hunter are 3rd tier, and Tancredo, Thompson, and Rupaul bringing up the rear 4th gear tier.

As for the serious candidates, John McCain is fabulous when defending why the war in Iraq is right, but he bashes Bush with too much ferocity. Perhaps it is to win favor in the media, which will fail when they turn on him. Perhaps it is bitterness over 2000, or even 2004 when he could not run. I hope he is better than that. He did not help himself tonight. Romney was very polished, and did well enough. He hit no major home runs but made no mistakes.

Rudy Giuliani clearly won this debate, and further cemented his deserved status as the front runner. He understands the major issues, and articulates them well. He has all of George W. Bush’s many positives, and is the only one who refuses to bash the President to score points (Romney is also very good on this issue). He also articulates the Bush Doctrine better than the President. Romney was good, coming in second. McCain came in third. Rudy Giuliani told us that he turned around New York City, and will turn around America.  Based on tonight, I believe him.


One Response to “The GOP Debate Part II–The candidates”

  1. Kilroy says:

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