Thursday, January 10, 2008


Republican Debate in South Carolina

Campaign Carl Cameron in the house! This should be a good one. Fred Thompson's last stand.

9:03 Chris Wallace - question about a possible recession. Do you believe it, and why should you be trusted to deal with it? Romney first: seems like this was right in his wheelhouse. He worked in tax cuts and energy independence (although he may have sounded green on this). Because of Romney's Michigan strategy, he worked that in as well and McCain got to rebut about re-training for the jobs that would be lost. McCain sounded surprised when he got an opportunity to answer.

9:08 How does out-of-control spending relate to interest rates? I'm not sure McCain got that right. Spending has been out of control for years and interest rates are still near all-time lows. Have to admit he sounds good talking about anti-pork and using the veto pen. Still, it seems like a pipe dream with a Democratic congress.

9:09 Recession question goes to Huckabee. Dependence on foreign oil and sub-prime mortgages. Personally, I'm with Michelle Malkin: Suck. It. Up. Huckster was all over the map.

9:12 Question to Giuliani - how does cutting taxes increase revenue? He's not the best at explaining it. What is this, economics class? First Reagan reference.

9:13 Tax question to McCain. McCain actually puts the deficit blame from the 80s where it belongs: the Democratic congress that wouldn't cut spending.

9:15 Ron Paul - "you have to understand the Austrian theory of...." Good Lord....spending is "artificial stimulus"?

9:17 Fred speaks, and takes credit for Rudy's tax plan. Also mentions making tax cuts permanent. So far, McCain, Rudy, and Romney sound the most comfortable in this debate.

9:19 Campaign Carl asks about deconstruction of the Reagan Coalition. Huckabee sums up the conservative movement. But he's for increased spending and increasing taxes. I'm not sure I've heard a more substanceless answer - it kind of sounded like John Edwards.

In fairness, I think Carl could have asked a better question.

McCain covered it well and even threw in the Bridge to Nowhere.

9:22 Romney takes a rough question and puts in a reference to the shining city on the hill. It was actually a fairly inspiring answer.

9:25 Fred goes on the attack and calls Huckabee on his lack of conservative credentials. Fred gets the first ovation (against the rules).

9:27 Huck responds and says he cut taxes 94 times and cut the budget 11%. I'd like to check on those.

9:29 Carl calls Ron Paul about the Troofers. He brushes it off as something he can't control.

9:31 Ron Paul doesn't understand that we are at war. "We're in all these countries." He's got some hard core supporters in the crowd. Deficit is out of control? It's been coming down every quarter for the past 2 years or so (I'll have to check the stats on this). If spending stayed flat (or even was tied to inflation) we'd break even on an annual basis by 2010.

First break: I guess you could call it the McCain 1/2 hour. I have to tell you Huckabee's comment about taking flak when you're over the target didn't impress me. Fred got to speak twice, and ignited the first controversy by going after Huckabee.

9:35 Question about the appropriate response to the incursion by the Iranian gunboats. Mike Huckabee mentions sending our enemies to the "gates of Hell".

9:37 Fred answers the question and gets in a line about "the virgins they were waiting to meet".

9:39 Rudy ties the incident back to the NIE and how we should be focused on not allowing Iran to become a nuclear power. Good move putting it in the big picture.

9:39 McCain praises the commanders and mentions that we should trust their judgement (as did Huck, Fred, and Rudy). Decisions are made by commanders on the ground. That's why they get the big bucks.

9:41 First Paul decries the Troofers....then compares the speed boat incident to the Gulf of Tonkin. I love the look on McCain's face as he answered this. If he could, I bet he'd choke the shit out of Paul. Any of these guys remember that it was a "speedboat" that blew up the USS Cole.

9:45 Wendell Goller (spelling?) asks McCain about Iraq. National Security is his strength. He clearly outlined the differences between Republicans and Democrats with respect to the war. But I still can't forgive him for McCain/Feingold, the Gang of 14, Amnesty, need I go on?

9:49 Rudy and McCain sound very presidential. I'd trust either one on national security. Paul shows his isolationist roots. Just close your ears and eyes and it will all go away. Buffoon. Please, Fox, get him off the stage. I can't believe the idiot has that much support in the audience.

9:53 Thompson is asked about Pakistan. He's definitely better playing to an audience (he holds for applause). Misspoke about the Western mountains of "Afghanistan", but his points were spot on.

9:55 Who is General Kiani (sp?) that Romney is mentioning? I guess I need to read up on my Pakistani current events. Romney is showing is naivite on Islam. The change won't come from the outside, it has to come from inside the religion. And it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

9:57 Boy there's a lot of agreeing going on on the stage tonight. Huck agrees with Mitt and Fred. Fred agrees with Rudy. But I think that everyone agrees that Ron Paul is a boob.

2nd break. There wasn't a clear winner this half hour, but Ron Paul was the clear loser in my mind. He criticizes us for arming Israels enemies - valid point, but he said "giving weapons to Arabs", it's not just Arabs that are the enemies of Israel. I'd be that most of our Arab aid goes to Saudi and Egypt - not exactly two states calling for the dissolution of Israel. The country that's calling for it the loudest: Iran - not Arab.

10:04 Chris Wallace - asks about the "change" theme. Defend your position that the American people want a Washington outsider. Romney sounds inspiring and can run on his record of success.

10:07 Same question to McCain. Goes back to "changing" course in Iraq. That's not the question John. Tell me how you're going to stop entitlement expansion, earmarks, cut off benefits to illegals so they'll be encouraged to go home. Overall a pretty good answer (brought in Abramoff and other stuff), but I can't see him as an agent of change.

10:09 Same question to Huckabee. Talks about education, road systems, and says again that he cut taxes. Can somebody point this out to me? I don't know I've seen a reference to him cutting taxes.

10:13 Some back and forth between Thompson and Huckabee. I think Thompson came out on top, but I'm a little biased. What Huckabee is saying doesn't square with the things I've read about him. I guess I need to do some more research. He still just seems to slick.

10:18 Huckabee questions why it's always OK to ask him the religious question. Huckabee offers a decent defense of religious beliefs and marriage.

10:20 Paul just revealed that he is not intellectually capable of handling foreign policy.

3rd break. Once again, no clear winner. Overall, I'd say McCain is on a roll. But, I don't think we're going to see any major moves in SC because of this debate. McCain and Huckabee will probably pull away from the pack.

I'd trust anybody (except Paul) on the stage with foreign policy. They're all talking a good game about smaller government, lowering taxes, etc...records matter on that one. I'm not sure who's misrepresenting his record.

10:25 Why do I not trust McCain when he talks about securing the borders?

10:27 Romney outlines differences between candidates on immigration. He decries the Z visas.

10:29 Thompson also includes sanctuary cities.

10:30 Ron Paul blames part of the border problem on Iraq. Moron.

10:32 Giuliani gets to confront his policy of not asking informants about immigration status. Tells a story about a balance between enforcement and cooperation. Not a bad answer, but not exactly inspiring if you want to close the border.

Still, I think the whole debate was a wash. I don't think anyone in particular stood out. Thompson sounded more like a VP attack dog than a President. Paul is a lightweight and needs to go. The rest all sounded comfortable and presidential.

Fred seems to have won over the focus group on Fox. I didn't think he made that big of an impression. A bunch of them like Fred's attack on Huckabee. And they voted Ron Paul - The Biggest Loser. I like these guys.

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