UPDATE: I’m not going to put this in a separate post, for a reason I’ll explain in a moment. Mitt Romney won this debate. He looked crisp, sharp, had facts at his command, and exuded confidence.
McCain not only looked old and tired, constantly leaning on his arms and speaking in a monotone, he made a very poor showing in trying to falsely stretch a Romney quote from April into an endorsement of a withdrawal. That’s not only ridiculous, it’s blatantly a smear. As I pointed out earlier, John McCain in January 2007 actually did talk about ending the mission if surge milestones didn’t get met by the Iraqi government, making this a pretty dumb choice for a line in the sand. And even Anderson Cooper had to talk over John McCain to tell him he got it wrong.
I liked the format. Anderson Cooper did better here than he did at the YouTube debate, and it obviously allowed the candidates to mix it up. I’ll have more in the show, but the actual debate probably won’t move the needle much. Romney won the last debate, and it didn’t do him much good later in Florida.
UPDATE II: Here’s what McCain said in January 2007:
McCain said Thursday that he hadn’t yet decided on precise benchmarks. “They’d have to be specific, and they (Iraqi government officials) would have to meet them,” he said.
Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: “I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven’t met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we’re not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options.”
So what was McCain talking about in this passage? More troops, or not completing the mission? He didn’t use the supposedly verboten word “timetables”, but unmet benchmarks have to have timetables to be unmet, and clearly McCain had some timeframe in mind with this remark. Like I said, he drew a really dumb line in the sand with this issue.
UPDATE III: John at Stop the ACLU has Romney’s original interview up at his site.
Original post follows …
The remaining Republican hopefuls square off at the Reagan Ranch in California. Will Mitt Romney make the sale, or will John McCain prevail? It won’t take long to find out — the debate will air live on CNN tonight, starting at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT. The two will join Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul live from the Reagan Ranch in Simi Valley, California.
Of course, the whole gang from Heading Right will live blog the debate. At 10:30 ET/9:30 CT, join us at Debate Central for our traditional post-debate wrap-up at BlogTalkRadio. Rick Moran, Fausta Wertz, and Duane “Generalissimo” Patterson will pick the winners and the losers!
NOTE: Tomorrow’s Heading Right Radio show will start at 1 pm CT rather than 2 pm CT; I forgot to warn people at the end of today’s show.