May 4, 2007
Elephant Walk 1 - Who Won?Topics: Political News and commentaries
The first GOP debate is over, the elephants have given us their first walk-through, the candidates' election teams are already checking their polling data, the talking heads are opining away like there's no tomorrow, and those who watched it are surely wondering why anti-GOP, pro-Dem, liberal Chris Mathews was the moderator. As Ann Coulter says of his role in the first GOP debate, "Just because he's portrayed as a clueless ass-clown by Saturday Night Live doesn't mean that Chris Mathews has to play one in real life:
Professionally I always cringe at Mathews' "Have you stopped beating your wife" interrogation tactic. If you are going to ask a hard question just ask it and for God's sake let the person answer. Stop trying to manufacture discord among the GOP candidates. Trust me that will happen with no need for prompting or prodding.However, aside from having an anti-moderator moderate the moderates, there was, after all, a "debate" of sorts that supposedly has a winner and one or more losers. I'm not sure that really happened, but others seem to disagree. And for them the winner is dependent upon who you ask.
If one of the candidates had had the balls to say "You know Chris that is about the most idiotic thing I've heard all week. Were you born stupid or do you just work hard at it?", that man would have gone up in the polls ten percent overnight and would be getting fitted for his leather desk chair in the White House. (More here)
Redstate's crystal ball shows that John McCain won.
Let's not dance around this. Mitt Romney shined, he stood out, he did well. Rudy Giuliani imploded. Rudy totally and utterly self-destructed tonight. He had many chances to get in good with the core base of Republican voters and ignored every moment.Michelle Malkin plays it safe and puts up a summary of opinions.
As expected, MSNBC, the Democratic channel, framed the debate in terms of Iraq but was kind to media darling John McCain:
The 10 most prominent contenders walked a fine line on the war. On one hand, they were reluctant to wholeheartedly back Bush's strategy, which polls show is unpopular with the public at large; on the other, they could not afford to abandon the president and antagonize conservative Republicans who vote in the party's presidential primary.Dean Barrett's "unbiased" (even he jokes of a hint of bias) opinion is that "Romney was clearly the class of the field." (I did notice he had the best hairdo)
The candidate in the most difficult position, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, stuck by his guns in being the president's strongest backer, a position his advisers said showed his willingness to remain true to his principles regardless of popularity.
I know, I'm biased, blah, blah, blah. But if you saw the debate, believe your own eyes. Romney has a command of the facts and an effective delivery that must be the envy of the field. As America gets to know him in forums like this (not that I'm hoping there will be other forums precisely like this hideous one - perish that thought), the country will come to understand why Romney has generated such excitement among insiders and people who know him.Ed Morrissey shares Dean's excitement over Romney, and says right out that Mitt Romney won this debate.
He looked relaxed, answered clearly, showed real warmth and a sense of humor, and actually answered the questions asked of him -- even the stupid ones, to which I'll return shortly. After Romney, one has to think that Jim Gilmore and Mike Huckabee may have made some strides in breaking out of the third tier. They also showed that they could connect emotionally to the audience and give clear, thoughtful answers.
Paul at Powerline didn't like the format (I didn't either), but as far as a winner, he believes John McCain had the best night:
Frankly, I think John McCain had the best night. He seemed a bit nervous at first, but soon found his stride. He managed more ably than his chief rivals, McCain and Romney, to give answers that will appeal to a reasonably full spectrum of Republican voters without seeming to pander to anyone.Ryan Sager at The New York Sun points to Mitt Romney being the big winner and Rudy Giuliani being the clear loser, while getting a dig in on Chris Mathews:
3. Romney did well most of the time, but again seemed less than fully convincing on the pro-life vs. pro-choice questions. I was also a little surprised by his full-throated defense of the Massachusetts health insurance plan. I've heard him hedge a bit more on this issue in the past. I'm a Mitt-leaner, but I can't help thinking he's more focused on the image he's projecting than McCain and Giuiliani are.
4. Giuliani didn't pander, but was less successful than McCain in giving answers that will appeal across the spectrum. Indeed, his statement that he would be ok with a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but also with a decision continiuing to uphold it, leaves him pretty vulnerable, it seems to me.
5. The rest of the field had their moments, but it's difficult to see any of them breaking into the top tier as a result of this debate or as the result of anything else that's likely to happen.
Off the bat, let me stipulate that I don't consider any of the seven dwarves to necessitate much analysis. Ron Paul is a pure libertarian, so I always enjoy hearing from him. But I'll stick mostly here to the Big Three. Winner: Mitt Romney. Loser, by a mile: Rudy Giuliani. Treading water: John McCain.USA Today has up a rather straight forward "Morning-after analysis and commentary" that includes both blog and MSM commentary. As we see in all the other comments, who won depends on who you ask, Mitt Romney is mentioned more often as a winner, John McCain as a close second, and Rudy Giuliani a somewhat distant third.
Mr. Romney: If anyone stood out from the other candidates, in terms of looking polished and poised, it was clearly Mr. Romney. He got off some of the best lines of the night, partially because Chris Matthews gave him some oddball questions
Posted by Richard at May 4, 2007 7:56 AM
I watched the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate broadcast live from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., and was left thinking Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson came away clear winners.
Thatâ€™s right! Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, and Thompson, the Law and Order star and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, can declare victory simply because both were smart enough to skip the event for two likely reasons:
First, because itâ€™s taking place far too early to be remembered by voters 9 or more months from now; and
Second, because video clips and sound bites from the event will serve Democrat candidatesâ€™ needs more than Republicans, a result of the fact that many of the questions were â€œloadedâ€ with liberal bias in a variety of ways.
Speaking of liberal bias, I must share my feelings about MSNBCâ€™s Chris Matthews and his colleagues at the alphabet networks: In short, Iâ€™ve never been comfortable with the hiring of former Democrat speech writers and operatives like Matthews, ABCâ€™s George Stephanopolous and NBCâ€™s Tim Russert as news anchors and, in this case, debate moderators.
Hatâ€™s off to all of the Republican candidates for their self-control in not reaching out to ring the necks of Matthews and his Politico.com pals for conducting themselves the way they did.
Wrapping up, I want to share my gut-instinct feelings about the â€performancesâ€ of all the GOP candidates â€" all of whom must secretly wish they were Reagan â€" tonight:
Sam Brownback: Good guy. Would make a great neighbor.
Jim Gilmore: Straight-shooter who backs promises.
Rudy Giuliani: Democrat in a Republican suit that didnâ€™t fit.
Mike Huckabee: Honest and sincere.
Duncan Hunter: Tough on border security.
John McCain: Striving to produce sound bites, appear tough. Didnâ€™t do either well.
Ron Paul: Most common sense and, at same time, darkest horse running.
Mitt Romney: Too plastic. Too polished. Looks like Lyle Waggoner of The Carol Burnett Show from the â€™70s.
Tom Tancredo: Independent-minded but flustered by Chris Matthews repeatedly cutting him off.
Tommy Thompson: Trying hard to appear tough.
More later. We have miles to go before we vote.
Posted by: Bob McCarty at May 4, 2007 10:09 AM
Bob, I think I like your commentary better than the MSM's. And I do agree with you on Fred Thompson. I'm still of a mindset that says Newt's too associated with conservatives to get elected, even if he did get the GOP nomination.
But like you, I do feel there's miles to go before we get even close to knowing who the real players are going to be.
Posted by: Richard at May 4, 2007 3:22 PM
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