Brief Impressions of the October 9, 2007 Republican Primary Debate

Sam Brownback
The Joe Biden of the Republican Party. Even gave a shout-out to Joe by name. It’s hard to see what he adds.

Rudy Giuliani
A flawless performance. His defense of attacking the Line Item Veto — tying it into strict constructionism — turns a negative into a plus. He had the better of the exchange with Romney. 2nd best of hte evening.

Mike Huckabee
If McCain and Giuliani are best suited for fighting a general election campaign, Huckabee is best placed for emphasizing conservative principles. Issues that are currently non-starters but nonetheless part of the conservative agenda, such as the fair tax, are excellently described by Mike. No chance without Romney imploding, but a perfect VP for a conservative nominee.

Duncan Hunter
A one issue candidate: anti-China.

John McCain
Dazzlingly perfect. The vigorous defense of conservative principles, from law taxes to free trade, was a welcome break with the ever creeping populism. If only his “Maverikism” didn’t keep doing things like joining the Left’s war on science. Best of the evening.

Mitt Romney
The John Kerry of the Republican Party. Yesterday I wondered if his consult-the-lawyers comment was liberal-nonsense or vacuous-nonsense. It’s definitely vacuous. Just as Kerry surely as a liberal core, Romney surely has a conservative one. Somewhere. Worst of the evening.

Ron Paul
A one issue candidate: restoration of the Constitutional regime of 1929. Unlike Hunter and Tancredo, Paul’s stance isn’t so much wrong as quixotic. It’s not going to happen.

Tom Tancredo
A one issue candidate: anti-immigration.

Fred Thompson
If the nick against McCain is that he’s too old, it’s hard to see how Thompson has a chance. Disengaged and noncharismatic, Fred’s a long way from the man who made his splash on YouTube. Second worst of the evening.

5 thoughts on “Brief Impressions of the October 9, 2007 Republican Primary Debate”

  1. Like I said – as soon as Thompson opens his mouth, everybody realizes how stupid he is.

    Now once Giuliani alienates everyone, my prognostications will be perfect! He's on his way with the Dobson kerfuffle.

  2. Adrian,

    How does your second comment support your first?

    Your first comment purports to explain a trend. To back this up, you merely report there is a trend.

    This would be like me claiming a giant monster is responsible for global warming and, when challenged on it, linking to a database of global temperatures.

  3. Dan,

    If I remember correctly, Adrian is a Democrat (Adrian, if I am mistaken, I apologize), and if I were to look at a GOP candidate from a Democrat's perspective (which I'll try to do here) it seems self-evident that Giuliani would alienate “everybody”. After all, he's already alienated my side (If I were a Democrat), and after watching figures like Dobson, Richard Land, and Tony Perkins saying that they won't support him even if he were the GOP's nominee, I could see how, if I were a Democrat, the perception of Giuliani alienating “everyone” could seem accurate.

    Granted, that's a very subjective take on the matter.

  4. Giuliani clearly hasn't alienated everyone yet (no matter how much I wish it were true).

    However, the trend shows that, as Fred Thompson has campaigned more, his numbers have gone down. It's a correlation that fits with my prediction [1]. Proving causation is really difficult no matter how many numbers you have.

    Like a lot of people (not just Democrats), I thought Giuliani's social stances would alienate GOP voters, but it looks like his “tough guy” image is more important than his social positions (I don't think most voters go as in depth as TDAXP, looking at legal issues and federalism and such).


  5. Ron Paul as a 3rd party candidate could be a spoiler, but then again, so could Ralph Nader. Though I find Ron Paul more agreeable and certainly enjoy his debate performances where he's the voice of reason.

    He also acts wonderfully to tie the other GOP nominees to Bush's legacy and policies. Since none of them have the integrity or the intelligence to show any major disagreement with Bush, they deserve to receive only the 30% totals they are likely to get in a general election, which entail the support of the 30% of the country that is off in la la land and still thinks Bush is a glorious president who is hardly ever wrong.

    The sad part is, though I agree with your perspective on Romney, he was a good governor of Mass. (took care of its fiscal situation in particular) and could be a good president if he showed some original thought on the campaign trail now and then.

    The same with Rudy G, I despise the guy and his fascist tendencies, but I do recognize that he is a moderate in many ways but aside from his quiet support of abortion (which I am pro-life so I oppose) he does not talk of this much, indeed, he is running so far away from his mayoral record as to be as fake as Romney and Kerry. Except for his supposed incredible, glorious performance in doing his job on 9/11….

    McCain's support of half hearted government foolishness like the campaign finance laws is not a rarity, so I don't see him able to do much because too many people see him for what he is; a nanny-state Republican.

    Thompson? Eh, he's going to get a few one-liners in but he's just a placeholder candidate for the type of guy that should be there, i.e. Jeb Bush.

    Bush should be running in '12 or '16. A shame Michael Steele didn't win the MD Senate seat in 2006, they could have made quite the ticket.

    Huckabee is practical, and oozes practical, in a way that no other candidate does on either side (except Dodd). He really seems like the type of president who could get his hands dirty on a lot of issues and enjoy doing so. His record is impressive, and at this time of fiscal crisis when the American people and government are both charging their activities onto their kid's credit cards, I think he could be the one to help stop that foolishness.

    Have you read about his views on the prison system, drug laws and juvenile justice? He's quite impressive. I want him to be the nominee, but I agree with you he'll end up being a VP. We can hope at least right?

  6. Colin,

    Good point,

    Adrian and Eddie,

    What do you mean by “intelligence”? That is, are you arguing that they score, say, a standard deviation below the national mean on intelligence tests. That they appear to have gained political office through luck? That they position themselves as foolish to be misunderestimated? Or is it a term of insult without meaning?

  7. I'm asking why they tie themselves to the most unpopular president in modern history. I'm questioning their intelligence in doing so, also because they seem to be afraid to express their opposition to any or most of his policies (in varying cases). What is most fascinating is how this will affect the winner, he will be easily labeled a flip flopper on most of these issues when he's in the general election by his opponent, because the policies and statements that will win the GOP nomination will in all likelihood lose them the general election.

  8. “What is most fascinating is how this will affect the winner, he will be easily labeled a flip flopper on most of these issues when he's in the general election by his opponent”

    Such as? (That is, you've made an improvable claim that a majority of the positions made during the primary campaign will be changed in the general… what accounting do you have to support this?)

  9. Issues of free trade, immigration and how to address the popular perception of inequality (shareholders vs. everyone else) in society today will be land mines for GOP candidates, especially Rudy G. Consider Rudy G's record as mayor where he allowed his city to be a sanctuary city for illegals, and now all of a sudden he's walking the fine line between condemning that and supporting it. His record (and that of Romney and Thompson) is rife with inconsistencies with past achievements and positions and current statements.

    It will be very interesting, to say the least, to see how this plays out in the primary.

    I recommend David Brooks' NYT column on Hamilitonian Republicans and Peggy Noonan's WSJ column last week on the problems presented by those looking out for Bush's legacy and those looking out for the electoral future of the GOP.

    Above all else, I despise the primary system because the wingnuts of both parties have the advantage, and us in the center-right or center-left get screwed by a weak debate and weak candidates.

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