Here are some thoughts I have on the recent GOP Presidential debate in Columbia. I think a line by line approach is the best way to convey my thoughts.
1) The situation: I thought the Koger Center and the state GOP did a good job, along with the Columbia police, in handling the situation. Sure, there was some griping about traffic problems from some, but overall, things went very smoothly. I also thought the crowd was more alive than the crowd at SC State during the Democratic debate a couple of weeks ago. It was also pretty cool to see some national media folks in the Vista.
2) The performance of the candidates. There were no major shocks, but I was both pleased and disappointed in how some of the candidates. I think former Governor Mike Huckabee had the best night. Here are my thoughts on each candidate:
1)Senator Brownback--He did nothing to break himself out of the pack and nothing to kill his campaign. He just answered with traditional conservative lines and kept himself a viable second tier candidate.
2)Former Gilmore of Virginia--I note that he did not really answer any question put to him, but instead put forth his own agenda. It was almost comical as the moderators tried to get him to actually answer a question.
3)Former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani- The Mayor had a frank showing. His position on abortion might not be popular, but he was at least this time frank about it. His calling Ron Paul out about September 11th was not unlike Ronald Reagan telling the debate moderator in 1980 "I paid for this microphone, and I will speak." Of the big three, so speak, I think Rudy had the best night.
4)Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee--He had perhaps the best night of all, getting good publicity for his John Edwards joke, but also, he seemed to be the only candidate with with George H.W. Bush called "the vision thing" on his support of the fair tax.
5)Congressman Duncan Hunter--The Congressman talked a lot about immigration reform and the like and tried to out conservative Brownback and Tancredo.
6)Senator John McCain- Senator McCain looked old. He flubbed his now popular line about drunken sailors and Congressional spending and well, frankly, just looked like he was up past his bedtime. When he flubbed the drunken sailor bit, I found myself feeling sorry for him.
7)Congressman Ron Paul- He added some fireworks to the event with his foreign policy thoughts. Some see his thoughts as outrageous. Others as insightful. But, I kept thinking this man belongs in the Libertarian Party.
8)Former Governor Mitt Romney- Governor Romney is the slickest of the candidates running. He looks like a TV news anchor and comes across as slick as slick gets. I kept thinking he is being well packaged by his campaign. But, is that what the GOP and America wants?
9)Former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson- The Secretary was clearly one of the smartest people in the room and his answers were thoughtful. But, he has no charisma. He reminded me a lot of Bill Richardson on the Democratic side: the smartest man in the room with no chance at being nominated for President.
10)Congressman Tom Tancredo- Like Duncan Hunter and Sam Brownback, this guy was trying to see who could throw out the most red meat to hardline conservatives. Also like them, he has little chance at getting nominated.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?