June 5, 2007

Post Debate Analysis: Giuliani Keeps The Crown For Now

The third GOP debate is over, although there may be some who haven't realized it yet. What it lacked in firepower, it more than made up in pointlessness. And while CNN may not have been anywhere near as bad as MS-NBC, they should still be embarassed that their audience asked better questions than CNN's journalists.

The format for tonight's debate seemed forced and odd. First, Wolf Blitzer promised everyone that he wouldn't let the candidates dodge questions -- and then asked questions that made little sense. He wanted the candidates on stage to talk about Fred Thompson. He wanted answers on Genesis, and he wanted them now. Romney got to answer the same old question about his Mormonism.

The audience participation section went better than it did with MS-NBC -- and in fact better than the first half of CNN's show. The candidates got to actually answer questions on policy without Blitzer demanding that they hew to his tedious wording. For some reason, though, they had to wait five minutes while they forced the candidates to sit in chairs -- and most of them chose to stand instead while answering questions.

Next time, skip the gimmicks and focus on real issues.

How did the candidates do? No one did badly, but McCain suffered the most. He actually had moments of high eloquence, especially when responding to Tancredo, but he blew it big time at the end. He called the US a shining city on the hill, evoking Reagan, and then asserted that he "would not build fences and barriers" around it. Rhetorically, it's a great flourish -- but politically, it's suicide. He just reinforced the notion that he won't actually follow through on border security, which most Republicans believe involves building fences and barriers. All the work he did over the last two weeks to push back on immigration reform went up in a puff of smoke in New Hampshire.

Giuliani performed the best. He took advantage of a recurring technical glitch to demonstrate his sense of humor, and he gave great answers on national-security questions. He attacked Hillary Clinton -- again -- and was the only one on stage looking to move the debate to the Democrats -- again. He stung CNN, too, by turning around a Blitzer hypothetical about what he'd do if Petraeus reported no progress in September by asking Blitzer whether he'd bother reporting progress if it was being made.

Romney also did well. He parried the inane question about Mormonism, but got stung when someone asked why a candidate who wants English as an official language advertises in Spanish. Otherwise, Romney brought his command of detail to most of his answers.

Among the others, Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter did the best. Both looked presidential and showed real spirit on stage. Huckabee in particular exhibited the most warmth of anyone on the panel. Both men deserve better than their current positions, but with Fred Thompson entering the race, it seems unlikely they'll move up any time soon.

The rest didn't distinguish themselves. Ron Paul once again showed why he's a margin player, asserting that Iran "never did anything to us" and that the Iranians represent no national-security threat to the US. Tancredo came across as flustered and irritable, and his demand to stop all legal immigration assigned him to the Ron Paul fringe. Tommy Thompson switched from being a stiff to suddenly becoming oddly animated, waving his arms around and gesturing in an exaggerated manner. Jim Gilmore was ... Jim Gilmore.

In the next debate, we'll have eleven -- and we'll probably know even less. Let's hope that they start whittling down a few of the candidates, or they focus on just a few questions so we can get more than soundbite answers.


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Comments (26)

Posted by Labamigo | June 5, 2007 10:10 PM

No mention of what I thought was the most important development of the debate. They took their gloves off regarding Dub Yuh.

As I've posted before, the only way for the GOP to retain the White House in 2008 is to run against Dub Yuh, America's First Female President.

Posted by harleycon5 | June 5, 2007 10:11 PM

I concur with the Capt on most of his ratings of the candidates, however I really think that Romney was shaken by the question over the Spanish language on his website. He didn't answer the question well, and then went into a "Reagan moment" where he diverted from the question by trying to speak as or about RR.
It was most obvious of how Liberal CNN is when they seemed to take a moment to point all the other candidates at Rep Tom Tancredo about his views on illegal immigration. I don't think it was wise for Tancredo to criticize legal immigration as it made him an easy target for those who wish to label all of us who are against Amnesty as racist, and this was exactly what CNN hoped.
I was outraged by McCain, who immediately jumped up and said, "Buenos noches, Representative" as if to make light of the whole language issue. I think this was one more nail in his political coffin.
I would agree that both Romney and Guliani did brilliantly on their opposition to the Amnesty bill, and I noticed that after the debate CNN showed "button testing" graphs pitting Republicans, Democrats, and independants signalling their likes and dislikes at certain points in their presentations. What was interesting is that ALL the lines merged and went to the top when Romney and Gulliani panned the McCain Kennedy bill. And when McCain tried to defend it? Well they went down like the stock market on black monday. This IS the primary issue that will draw voters from all political corners in my opinion.
Duncan Hunter was great and very direct when he answered the question of if the Republican party should be steered like Arnold Swarzeneggar in Cali, with the quick, "No".
Huckabee was the most deeply emotional and inspiring of all the speakers. And in this way he was most like Reagan in that he was both a man of faith, but also not overtly obnoxious about that fact. I was very impressed.

Posted by RBMN | June 5, 2007 10:15 PM

The combination that Rudy has going for him is that he's both very real and very likeable. Right now, until Fred gets in, that's a fairly unique category in the top tier.

Mitt is likeable, McCain is real. and Rudy is both.

Rudy's not my first choice (probably Fred,) or my second choice, but I like the guy.

Posted by wham1000 | June 5, 2007 10:28 PM

Sad lot of men on a ridiculous stage! As much vision and leadership as an ass fart.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 5, 2007 11:03 PM

Well, it looks like cable found a life for itself.

And, the venue in New Hampshire actually looked quite pleasing. Heck, even the lighting shot worked out in Rudy's favor. And, yes. He's in ALL the "after-spots" that are popping up on the Net. Insta-Pundit has links. Hot Air has a "montage." And, there's "something for everyone."

Though one link InstaPundit has up, takes you to The Anchoress. By the end of the two hours, she was sure she was the only human left in the audience, still watching.

The observation I note? Guiliani hasn't lost a voter. While at the same time Bush is shedding millions of them.

The other thing I noticed, is that IF primary politics is about "reaching the base." And, reaching out to touch people, one by one; this TV thing; with the ability to grab video and put it up on U-Tube, brings instantaneous footage to anyone who didn't sit through the "original" two hour version.

And, most of the voters are beyond the base. By definition.

Also, the most crowded part of the stage, tonight, was held by the religious politicians. Who just wanted to share Jesus with us. As if you could really mix politics and the holy stuff, together.

It's also NOT something that's gonna sell to the "under 30 crowds." It's not a very hot topic for most people. Which is why Guiliani carries the edge.

Fred? At some point he's gotta jump in. If he jumps into the shallow end; with the religious wonders, where's his advantage? Since Rudy is doing more than "holding his own." It seems the audiences really are tuning in to see Rudy McRomney. Oh. And, you can throw in a Ron Paul. Who manages to cut to the sounds bytes as well. Which is why he's made the Hot Air cut.

How many more debates are there gonna be?

And, does anyone know what Fred said on Hannity, tonight?

Posted by brooklyn | June 5, 2007 11:17 PM

I agree and appreciate your fine insight Captain.

Rudy and Romney are a cut above the rest.

Rudy clearly wins...

McCain should call it a day.

The Man long ago blew it, by appeasing the MSM and trying to ride the fence, pleasing Democrat insanity.

The problem remains, are Conservatives going to lay down for the likes of Hillary Clinton and Company.

Suicide is painful.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 6, 2007 12:34 AM

Yes, Captain. You did a wonderful recap.

I saw part of the debates, as they've been showing up on the Net. InstaPundit had really great links. And, they were up there quite fast.

Hot Air had an excellent recap. Which also shows ya what you can do on the Net. Via U-TUBE. And, what people can do "at home" that once was the work of hollywood sophistacates. With union cards.

So the real advance? Again, the Net.

I also really believe that cable reaches an audience that's probably bigger than the old C-Span. And, I used to LUV C-Span!

All of the republican candidates are doing well in this public forum. Though what Rudy has, is a much more mainstream approach. He's not caving in and catering to the right wing out there. But letting the social conservatives, who are looking, take a closer look at him.

When push comes to shoves it's gonna be on "electability."

It's also good to see an array of candidates, still.

And, Captain. You are right! Guiliani is focussed on where his opponent in the race for president will come from. It won't be coming from the pulpit. Though the lightening strike brought its own humor! Drudge actually had an outside shot of the lighting striking. And, Rudy never lost his cool.

It's a real gift to be comfortable in a political forum. JFK had it. He was just at ease when he met the press. FDR definitely had it! Wrote his own stuff, too. Down to the line following Pearl Harbor, about how that "DAY WILL LIVE IN INFAMY." Language is such an integral part of this race.

Of course, we're only at the beginning.

The actual holder of primary ballots, though? Most aren't watching. But this type of show produces it's own buzz. And, it reaches audiences. Again, more through the Net than through the TV sets.

Even if some of this stuff feels like re-runs; I beg to differ. We're at the cusp of changing how America selects its presidents. And, it's an on-going process. Which is what makes studying history fascinating.

In other words? How does one gain a national reputation? Heck, in 1988 when the dems ran Dukakis, how'd he get there? Did the Bush's just run into lucky breaks?

Why, too, are so many people so sure Hillary gets the donk's nod? Was it Zumkopf who said "If the silken pony is in the lead, there's something wrong with the poll?" Maybe, the days of phony numbers will give way towards more realism?

Because? IF, for argument's sake, Guiliani is the front runner, the old "milking it for Jesus" that used to appear in the republican platform isn't gonna be there. No way. And, Bush is doing his own chopping at that "social conservatism bull crap."

Of course, there's always Ron Paul for light entertainment. I'm actually transfixed when he starts answering questions. If they build a left field, will that change baseball?

The real dog fight, in order to get elected president, comes when the democraps feel the People's pain. Nothing else will work the way the voters do.

And, I don't think Hillary has a chance! Obama? You're kidding, right? And, the silken pony. From Gore? To Kerry? To Edwards? It's the death knell of a party, if ever there was one. Good for Guiliani for reminding viewers that he's running against the democraps! And, the press is not friendly.

Oh, yeah! That question! "What will you do with George Bush?" Tancredo said he'd tell him to stay out of the White House. Someone else said he have him read to children. Glad they only have to pick one from this crew.

And, you're right, Captain. The audience is far better than any of the journalists!

Posted by Rose | June 6, 2007 12:35 AM

Rudi - Lightening struck while he was trying to defend his abortion stance.

Rudi and McCain are already washed up, "crown" or not!

Ann Coulter told Sean Hannity that Duncan Hunter impressed her.

She also let it be known that Fred Thompson does not - same reasons as me - his paltry false excuse for not voting for Clinton's impeachment charge of Perjury - he literally said the Founding Fathers wouldn't vote for impeachment on such "trivial" matters.

Fred said "TRIVIAL".

Posted by Rose | June 6, 2007 12:40 AM

Huckabee was the most deeply emotional and inspiring of all the speakers. And in this way he was most like Reagan in that he was both a man of faith, but also not overtly obnoxious about that fact. I was very impressed.

Posted by: harleycon5 at June 5, 2007 10:11 PM

One Christian network has been showing Huckabee pulling for the immigration bill, because he thinks all the illegal alien cum American citizens will vote against Abortion.

That just ain't right!
And I hate abortion very very much!

Posted by convivialdingo | June 6, 2007 2:31 AM

I'd agree... this debate was a big wash and too long.

I think Huckabee was the real winner. I was impressed with his candor. McCain - though I dislike his immigration policy - certainly had the balls to stand up for his bill in the end.

Guiliani and Romney - if you forget the war for a moment - are not conservative in the least. Both of them came across as pro-choice(but not really???), and pro-immigration. Romney even wavered a bit when he said "If we'd of known what we know now, [and various other arguments] we'd probably have stayed out of Iraq." (not a direct quote)

Giuliani wants tax deductions for health insurance - which is a round-about way of having the government pay for health insurance by sacrificing tax earnings. If the deduction is free - how does that encourage the free market? If it's a dedution - how do the people who pay little or no tax get in on the pork? Romney seemingly wants a larger government centralized healthcare system... ick.

I don't think Ron Paul did too badly... he certainly made the point of a Just War as being a central Christian concept - but there are fewer Christians everyday it seems.

I kinda find it funny that you label Ron Paul as a "fringe candidate." He's spot on conservative in healthcare (free up the market, reduce government spending) , immigration (build the fence, no amnesty, end welfare for illegals), social policy (pro-life, pro-family, more state rights), reduced government(really small), and free trade(trade with all).

Besides, his policy on the Iraq war is backed by people know the middle east, including the former head of the CIA's bin Laden desk.

I don't think the war trumps everything else - I don't have to live in Iraq, I don't want the US fighting the UN's wars, and I think it's time we started going after Bin Laden.

Posted by Jason Wharton | June 6, 2007 3:42 AM

I'm glad to see the polls show Ron Paul as winning hands down. All the talking heads can be cowards and just placate to the "front-runners" (who show well in the phone polls simply for the fact of name recognition, not screutinous evaluation of issues)

I know there are a lot of people who think Ron Paul's popularity is just a fringe thing but I tell you there is a really compelling spirit surrounding Ron Paul and his message of freedom. He has woke me up to realize our freedoms have been encroached upon drastically and this whole frenzy of war and terror are clearly nothing more than the power elite's end-run attempts to slam-dunk the constitutional republic and turn it into an empire run by some kind of dictator.

Frankly, my assessment of world history tells me that citizens of any nation are not our enemy. This includes Afgani, Iraqui, Russian, Chinese, etc. What we have is a small number of power brokers playing all sides against one another to stir up chaos so that in the end they push every nation into a system of centralized power to all the more easily assimilate the world's citizens into a globalist totalitarian hell on earth, unless you are one of the chosen elites, of course.

There are a lot of people waking up to the idea that a very weak centralized government and very strong local governments all participating in a very free-market economy with no subsidies and so fourth creates a form of government that the people have more individual rights and liberties (thus prosperity), no nation is threatened by us in terms of being coersed or invaded (thus the highest possible real national security), and people are responsible for their own actions.

What we have now in this country is a lot of problems, threats, divisions, etc. being fomented among and against us to weaken, divide and conquer us. There are a lot of threats and problems being laid at our doorsteps to trick us into sacrificing our freedoms for the sake of them.

I think the most brilliant and revealing aspects of Ron Paul's wisdom came through tonight. Every point he stood on was true to the Constitution, which is a body of principles that codify what real freedom actually is. There is a lot of effort being put into justification to be giving up our freedoms and they are primarily fear-based.

Rudy comes across on the surface looking like a really "tough guy" but in reality the policy he promotes is more akin to the policy of a bully. I think anyone who really understands the psychology of a bully knows they are basically just cowards looking to compensate for their own weakness with a pretense. These people are known to be easily manipulated and all to often make drastic mistakes they sorely regret. There is only safety in holding true to correct principles and Rudy offers little hope of that.

I measure a man's strength based on how much he is willing to stand up for the principles of freedom no matter how scary things may appear and for certain there is absolutely no competition for Ron Paul in this category.

Why do we speak so highly of the great courage and dedication to the principles of freedom that our founding fathers had and lable the only man walking in their footsteps as "fringe" while blathering on about the sophistry and gloss of cowards dressed up as bullies?

Islamists are not the terrorists! They are just a convenient mass of people easily radicalized and used as a tool. That's what we did with them against the Russians. For crying out loud, we trained Osama Been Lunchin to fight against them. So, should it come as any surprise they are just being used as tools now? What we need to be concerned about is identifying who is weilding the tool and remedying it from this perspective. Our fathers said if this country is ever ruined it will be at our own hands. We need to identify and root our our Judas faction.

Just recently we have Putin making some very bold remarks about what he perceives as a threat due to our offensive and pre-emptive posturing. I'm here to tell you, we will be playing into the hands of those who want another massive world war if we go down this road of aggressivism.

All the buzz around Ron Paul is real! I'm a 36 year old married man with 6 children and I work in the state capitol of Arizona. I'm not some weird cook. I care about the future of my 6 children and look for those candidates who honor the principles that best assure freedom in the future. Call us cowards and fringe but history will vindicate us because history vindicates the principles.

For the sake of the Union, Ron Paul for President!

Posted by Lightwave | June 6, 2007 6:22 AM

I really don't know what's more depressing, Ron Paul's rhetoric or the fact that anyone believes he has a chance.

And the fact that people are talking about Huckabee as "honest" is giving me a headache. The real problem is like the 06 Dems, everyone's taking shots at Bush's handling of the war but nobody has a viable plan for solving the problem. That's the only issue as far as I'm concerned and it's what the GOP voters want to hear: "As Commander in Chief, what is your plan for victory in Iraq?" Not the "three-state solution" which will only lead to two of those states (if not all three) becoming terrorist states. Not leaving Iraq. Certainly not engaging Iran, who is marking time until they get the bomb.

The GOP nomination and the Presidency will go to the man who can answer that question. We need to all pray it does.

Posted by hunter | June 6, 2007 6:44 AM

The interesting race is between the MSM/DNC trying to destroy Fox and the MSM/DNC dumbing down the debate venues they are offering the Republicans to make them look bad. It sis so far backfiring on the MSM, making them look like idiots. But if the level of the debate questions do not rise, it will eventuallymake the Republicans look as stupid as the questions.

Posted by stew | June 6, 2007 7:02 AM

Did anybody else notice that Huckabee said ,"today is Ronald Reagan's birthday" during the debate???? Reagan's birthday is Feb. 6th!!!!!

Posted by GeorgiaMom | June 6, 2007 7:35 AM

The Spanish Ad question is silly. It is not against the law to speak Spanish in this country and a lot of voters, especially the Cuban Americas in Florida at whom this ad was directed. Every candidate is going to run Spanish speaking ads and Mitt Romney is being hammered for being the FIRST to do so.

Posted by Nessus | June 6, 2007 8:06 AM

McCain was a joke - especially when responding to Tancredo. Ol' John forgot to mention his many awards given to him by La Raza and his incoherent mutterings, which were no answer to the question (English language) showed him to be nothing but a 1st class "Hispanderer".

An embarassment.

Tanc was right of course, legal immigration needs to be reduced otherwise, there's little point in distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration. It's just hard to make that point in a 30 second allotment of time.

Posted by RG | June 6, 2007 8:12 AM

GeorgiaMom - you don't seem to understand the question either, just like McKennedy.

No one is against (or cares) what language you speak in your home and private life.

The question is whether or not there should be ONE OFFICIAL language of government (which includes elections/voting ballots).

Almost 90% of the public favors English as the official language. Yet many Latinos continue to drag their feet and continue resist fully integrating into the USA and one common language is important in that integrating process. It's also costs less, tax money-wise to only have one language.

Culture matters folks and language is a big part of culture.

Posted by Christina | June 6, 2007 9:03 AM

God help the Republican party if the only candidate for president who believes in governing according to the Constitution is derided as a wing-nut.

I find it remarkable that people who claim to embrace the idea of a free society unencumbered by socialist-style central planning, seem to think it doesn't apply to Iraq. If Republicans really believe that government is the source of most problems, why are many of them so eager to have the Pentagon and State Department endeavor to build a democracy from scratch in an occupied country? Somehow we can't trust the Feds to administer American health care, but we can trust them to build and grow a stable democracy in a hostile foreign region?

I personally would love to see a Ron Paul vs. Hillary Clinton race. How great to return to traditional platforms, with the big-government, interventionist on one side and the limited-government, non-interventionist on the other!

Posted by RBMN | June 6, 2007 9:44 AM

Re: Christina at June 6, 2007 9:03 AM

In the day-to-day world, People govern through their representatives. The Constitution is there as the filter that everything must pass through eventually. It's more the machinery of government--not the product. And Ron Paul is a nut.

Posted by Christina | June 6, 2007 10:18 AM


You must have slept through your high school government class. Or maybe you need to actually read the Constitution for the first time. It specifically restricts what power the government is allowed to have, conveniently organized into seperate articles for the different branches! It's really a great document, I suggest you give it a look.

Posted by emdfl | June 6, 2007 10:25 AM

Unfortunately for Rudy and his supporters, there are a lot more of us 2nd Amendment believers that view him as Bloomberg without Bloomberg's money...

Posted by convivialdingo | June 6, 2007 2:09 PM

Ron Paul is the nut? Captain, if you'll forgive me...

...but Giuliani is the cross dresser around here!
He's the pro-gay, pro-choice, wacko in the field. He's anti-gun rights too - remember he sued gun makers as NY Mayor.. He plays golf with the Kennedeys... Not even the NYFD or NYPD support him now.

Just because he supports your ONE issue means you're willing to throw the rest of your values down the drain?

Sorry - Republican voters have voted for moral leaders time and time again, and I don't think this vote is done 'till the fat lady sings.

I don't think Rudy is a bad guy - he is a strong leader and has many good ideas - but I don't support his views.

Posted by Rose | June 6, 2007 3:25 PM

Tanc was right of course, legal immigration needs to be reduced otherwise, there's little point in distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration. It's just hard to make that point in a 30 second allotment of time.

Posted by: Nessus at June 6, 2007 8:06 AM


Especially since it merely helps put the ILLEGALS at the HEAD of the line!

Exacerbating the aggravation of LAW ABIDING PEOPLE the world over.

Posted by Rose | June 6, 2007 3:38 PM

Ron Paul is an idiot.

Joining the GOP didn't suddenly give him any credibility.

I do not vote for druggies. I have children, I want America to be a GOOD place for them to grow up and have families and children of their own.

If druggies want to form their own little isolated colonies, that is fine with me, as long as they keep themselves QUARANTINED.

One of them breaks into MY house to steal MY STUFF to pay for their addictions, and I will shoot them, or something equally dibilitating, depending on what I find first to hand in that moment.

hhhmmmm.... There is that metal baseball bat!

Posted by Project Vote Smart | June 6, 2007 4:43 PM

For more information on all announced or potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination please visit 2008 Republican Party Presidential Candidates or call the Project Vote Smart hotline at 1-888-VOTE-SMART.

Posted by Christina | June 6, 2007 10:23 PM


If you explain why you think Ron Paul is a druggie I would appreciate it. Considering that our current and former presidents are admitted former drug users, whereas Ron Paul isn't I don't understand your use of the term.

I suspect your problem with him is that he opposes the failed War on Drugs, because it has only served to enrich criminals and terrorists at the expense of billions of tax dollars and lost wages, not to mention the fact that like alcohol prohibition it has spawned an entire criminal industry with all the correlating violence. And to top it all off, illegal drug prices are falling which only proves how useless the entire effort is.

I can tell that you consider yourself highly intelligent, and competent enough to make good decisions, like that to not use drugs. Why do you think everyone else is so much dumber than you? Do you really think that people who eschew illegal drugs will suddenly become desperate addicts as soon as drugs are decriminalized?