Friday, May 04, 2007

See How They Run: Observations on the First 08 Republican Debate

The first debate is over and the political season is only beginning. I found Thursday's debate interesting on a couple of levels and walked away with numerous opinions. Here are a few of them:

* The minor candidates really need more forums such as this. It allows them to project an image of equality and most of them are as well informed and articulate as the major contenders.

* Two of the major candidates -- Giuliani and McCain -- were harmed by this debate. They were surprisingly rough around the edges, not the person whom you want on a platform with world leaders representing our interests, and simply did not come across as presidential.

* One of the major candidates, Mitt Romney, definitely benefited. He was articulate, smooth, and poised. If anything he was "too much" of those things. But I believe most were impressed.

* I believe the concept of "who won" is largely contingent on who you wanted to win. I really didn't care. Although I know some of the candidates and am old friends with Duncan Hunter (R-CA), I wanted to see who would win. After the debate I notice I had an article open on one candidate on the Internet and another window on his web page. His answers were the only ones I remembered. That was former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor, Tommy Thompson (photo). He was one of the only candidates who was extremely specific on the issues, offered innovative (even memorable) reforms, and seemed to be more interested in policy than politics.

Thompson reminded me of a candidate I supported in 1988, Pete du Pont (the former Republican Governor of Delaware), who offered "damn right solutions" to the problems America faced. I believe he was right then and if we had listened to him then, we would be in a much better situation today. Unfortunately, most people are interested in politics than policy. Personality more than leadership. I don't think Thompson will catch on any more than duPont, 20 years ago.

So who won Thursday's debate? I believe the answer to that is in the eyes of the beholder. I know who I liked, how about you? I would love your comments.

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Anonymous Jim of San Diego said...

I'm from California and am a big Duncan Hunter fan. I thought he came across very well.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Johnson said...

I liked Thompson too. However, in light of how vague candidates have been for years, I think people are ready for a candidate who is strong on specifics.

9:00 AM  

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