Chris Cillizza has more. Although Keene’s name might not mean much to the average voter, as longtime head of the American Conservative Union, he is one of the most well-connected and well-respected conservative leaders in Washington. Cillizza says he will work to convince “my fellow conservatives that if we are serious about electing a conservative president in 2008, it’s time to unite behind his candidacy.”
After last night, can we finally put to rest the argument of my tech-savvy conservative friends that somehow Republicans need to participate in YouTube debates? It confirmed all of my worst fears. Amateur questions reflecting a clear liberal bias that demeaned the political process as well as those who seeking the nation’s highest office. Cartoon characters, guitarists, and a questioner who is part of the Clinton campaign. No discussion of Iran, problems in Pakistan, the Annapolis conference, etc. It was an absolute debacle, and I really hope this experiment is over.
The defining moment of the debate was the Romney vs. Rudy exchange on immigration, and I thought Romney came off better once Giuliani went with the “Sanctuary Mansion” line. Not only did the argument lack substance, but it came off as a cheap shot. Giuliani’s answer on guns, which triggered boos, will also not help. Once he said he supported “reasonable” restrictions on gun ownership, especially given his past record, I’m sure a lot of conservatives thought “liberal gun-grabber.” His answers on most other questions were solid, and he forced Romney to retreat on his crime record, but I think in the moments that were most memorable, the ones that are likely to be rebroadcast, he came off poorly. He was off his game tonight.
For part of the debate, I thought Romney came off quite well, both in his initial exchange with Rudy and doing a better job of deflecting the flip-flopper charge on abortion. But I thought he got crushed by McCain on the torture question, though as I stated, he may benefit from the fact that the Republican base agrees with him. On the bible and South Carolina flag questions, I thought he stumbled, and reinforced the impression that he can’t take a firm position on anything.
McCain had a strong showing, and when it comes to defending the war in Iraq, there’s nobody who can do it better. Even if you disagree with him on his position on torture, it’s hard not to respect where he’s coming from. He also came accross as a real grown up on the stage. Personally, I go back and forth regarding my position on waterboarding of terrorist suspects, but when I hear McCain make his case, it’s hard to disagree with him. The trouble is, McCain still seems to rub a lot of conservative voters the wrong way. At the Values Voters Summit, I thought he gave a masterful speech, during which he made an emotional case against torture, but the audience members I spoke to after had a different view.
Mike Huackabee had another solid performance, and he continues to win the likability primary. His exchange with Romney on education, I think, represented the kind of Main St. vs. Wall St. campaign he’s going for, and I thought he got the better of it.
I’m not sure if it was a great move for Fred Thompson to go negative in his candidate video, but his “I just wanna give my buddies here a little more airtime” line was nice. His answers on entitlements were also solid. But I thought he was overshadowed by all of the other action on the stage.
I could have sworn he said that the Red Sox went 87 years without a World Series. Even a Yankee fan like me knows that it was 86.
Okay that the gay retired military officer got to ask a question, but did we really need to hear him give a speech?
John McCain had the much better, stronger, clearer and consistent answer, explaining the importance of maintaining American values while fighting terrorism. But more Republicans probably agree with Romney.
Rudy gives a great answer that mixes tolerance and toughness that was at the root of his leadership post-9/11. McCain is solid in his own right on the war in Iraq, and Duncan Hunter gives a stirring recount of American largese in the world.
Huh? He really stumbled on that one. He doesn’t disagree with the bible, he believes it’s the word of God, but does he believe it word for word? I still don’t know.
Huckabee with one of the lines of the night.