A Fox News Debate Round-Up
5) Mitt Romney (Loser): You could tell that everyone on the stage despised Mitt because he has run such a negative campaign. In fact, a lot of the questions seemed like they were sparked by negative ads by Romney. Additionally, he came across as shifty, insincere, and smirked a lot. I really thought he came across poorly and was virtually the spitting image of the plastic, inauthentic, guy he has been attacked as through-out the campaign.
PS: Mitt seems to be getting some good reviews. I am not seeing it at all.
4) Rudy Giuliani: For whatever reason, to me, Rudy just seems to have lost his mojo. Early on, I thought he was very charismatic, but he just doesn’t have the same impact anymore. He also seems to be extremely canned. It’s almost as if there’s nothing he has said that I haven’t heard from him a half dozen times before. Not that his answers are bad, they just seem a little too pat.
3) Fred Thompson: He gave serious, thoughtful answers and at times, he seemed like the only man on stage with 4 pygmies. But, he wasn’t energetic, seemed a little off-key, and got a little far into the weeds on some of his answers, although he did give one truly superb answer on illegal immigration. He had his moments, but it’s hard to see this debate performance bringing any new fans onto Fred’s bandwagon.
2) John McCain: He came across as outstanding on foreign policy and did a phenomenal job of highlighting his experience. He also did a much better job of communicating his disagreement with Mitt without coming across as cross and thin skinned, like he did in Saturday night’s debate. However, he was, as always, awful on illegal immigration and for whatever reason, he just seemed VERY old in this debate.
PS: McCain really benefits from not having his record taken apart by the other candidates. He has departed from the conservative orthodoxy in so many ways that never get brought up in these debates.
1) Mike Huckabee (Winner): He is amazingly fast on his feet, warm, and likable. Often, you get the sense that he’s making the same points as the other candidates, but in a very different way that will better appeal to regular people. Even if you’re not a fan of Huckabee, you almost can’t help but like the guy and I have to think that Huckabee would come across much better to the average person than anyone else on the stage.
PS #1: In my opinion, nothing in the debate tonight or in the Saturday debates is probably going to be a big momentum shifter for the New Hampshire race Tuesday.
PS #2: There has been some controversy over Ron Paul being excluded from the debate. In fact, the New Hampshire Republican Party pulled out their sponsorship of the debate over it.
So was Fox wrong to exclude Paul from the debate or was the NH Republican Party right to pull out? Actually both of them were right.
Paul has polled as high as 3rd place in New Hampshire, but he has zero chance to win overall. If you’re Fox, it makes no sense to include someone who can’t win at this point, but if you’re the NH GOP, it’s hard to sign onto a debate where someone who has polled as high as third isn’t allowed to participate.
Update #1: During the debate, I was chatting on IM with Mary Katharine Ham, who was in New Hampshire watching the debate. Unlike me, she loved Mitt’s performance. She had a very different take on the debate which you can read here.
Update #2: My favorite answer of the night, Fred on illegal immigration.