Monday, January 07, 2008


The New Hampshire Debates

Since my Bears have decided that it would only be sporting to let other football teams compete for the Lombardi Trophy this year, I was able to concentrate this weekend on 1) keeping my son from crying so that my wife could get some sleep and 2) watching the GOP debates in New Hampshire. Since ABC and Charlie Gibson did a great job (and I mean that with all sincerity), #1 above was actually a bit tougher.

Here are some of my thoughts, especially in the wake of some of the horrendous accounts by the AP that completely misrepresented what happened:

WINNER: Fred Thompson. Before anyone calls "homer," I want to point to my other debate recaps this year. Not once have I even come close to saying that Fred Thompson won a debate. In fact, I gave nearly every debate to Mike Huckabee thus far. Not these debates. Not even close. Fred was "the adult in the room," letting the other candidates snipe and barb while he talked about what he wants to do for America in dealing with our problems with energy production, illegal immigration, and national defense. Like Steve Gill and other "FredHeads," I have been frustrated with a horrible campaign that has held back a great candidate. After this weekend, that frustration was replaced with pride in my former boss. Fred kicked butt. Heck, even George Stephanopolous gave this one to Fred. That's got to count for something.

SECOND PLACE: Ron Paul. I thought Dr. Paul performed quite well, even cracking a few jokes that showed his human side. His argument for return to the gold standard wasn't specific enough in my view (yes, I understand it, but the average voter who might be up in the air might not), but he did well.

LOSER: Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani was pushed to the side this weekend, overshadowed by the sniping of McCain, Romney, and Huckabee and the substantive answers of Thompson and Paul. He was left on the outside looking in, perhaps wishing that Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter were there to spar with. Giuliani is going through the motions right now, holding out for Super Tuesday, so this weekend shouldn't hurt him too much in the long run. However, it sure didn't help, either.

THREE-WAY TUSTLE: The rest of the candidates were more involved in trashing each other than providing actual ideas to voters as to how they would deal with the problems of America. Everyone piled on Huckabee, which is to be expected after Iowa. What surprised me is that Huckabee seemed to wilt under the pressure, giving the worst debate performances I have ever seen him deliver (not just limited to this campaign). Taking down Huckabee was certainly the secondary goal for McCain and Romney, though, as they are within the margin of error of each other for taking New Hampshire's top spot. Given the Granite State audience that was listening (progressive white elites), I thought that Romney got the better of McCain overall. McCain seemed aloof when one would have expected fire, evasive when there was no need to be. Of the three, I thought Romney got the better of the exchanges. Will it be enough to win New Hampshire and save Romney's candidacy? We'll know tomorrow.

Meanwhile, with this morning's latest poll showing Obama up double-digits over Clinton in New Hampshire, one has to wonder if the Democratic Primary might be over before it begins. One of my best friends - who to this election cycle has been a loyal Republican - is helping run Obama's campaign in South Carolina, and they were extremely confident in Obama's chances to take the Palmetto State before he took Iowa. If Obama goes three-for-three, Clinton's campaign officially kicks into crisis mode, as she would need a near sweep on Super Tuesday to salvage her campaign. And that sweep just isn't going to happen. As George Will writes this morning, we may be seeing the last of the Clinton's as they relate to the White House.

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