Wednesday, May 16, 2007

See How They Run: The Debate After the Debate

Last night's South Carolina debate sponsored by Fox News for Republican candidates was very rough and tumble. It showcased the struggle the leading candidates are going to have because of how weak their conservative credentials. It demonstrated why the second tier candidates are called just that and I believe many of them will soon be gone. Here are a few of my observations:

* Ron Paul (photo) needs to get out as soon as possible. I've known Paul for years and he's highly intelligent and articulate, but he is far more libertarian than Republican. The Republican Party is not a party of appeasement, as Paul likes to argue, it is a party of Peace through Strength. Paul is now involved in the most extreme liberal blame game, claiming that September 11th is America's fault (because of our activities in regards to Iraq after the first Gulf War). That isn't going to fly in the Republican Party (and it isn't true). Republicans need to remind people like Paul that "the terrorists are over there, because we over there." Let's keep the terrorists over there.

* McCain and Romney are not going to make it. These guys spent the entire night letting out their frustrations on each other. Continuously accused of flip-flopping on the campaign trail, they had to do the exact same thing to each other. McCain doesn't understand tax cuts, Romney, was pro-abortion and converted too late to trust, etc., etc. These guys suffered the most, in my opinion.

* Giuliani was the big winner. He looked very Presidential and thoroughly slammed Ron Paul for blaming the US for September 11th. His remarks, calling Paul irresponsible and demanding a retraction, reminded me of Ronald Reagan's "I paid for this microphone" in the 1980 New Hampshire Primary debate that many called a turning point in that campaign. It may not be that significant, but it was an excellent moment.

The debate, above all things, demonstrates there is a long way to go. Ten candidates now and a few months there will likely be less and even different ones in the running. Fox News did a much better job than MSNBC in conducting the debate, but in the end, the current format remains weak. I'm eager to see how the pruning process eliminates candidates and allows us to get to know the eventual nominee better.

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