Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 21 Republican Debate Report Card

Mark Halperin, political correspondent for Time magazine, has another report card on the October 21 GOP candidates debate. As always, you can cast your vote on who won in the poll in the sidebar.

Rudy Giuliani won the Palousitics poll for the October 9 debate with 28% of the vote, followed by Ron Paul and Fred Thompson.

As a Mike Huckabee supporter, I have to point out that on Saturday there was a “Values Voter” Straw Poll among attendees of the Family Research Council’s Summit in Washington, D.C.

Here are the results:

1.) Mike Huckabee - 488 - 51.26%
2.) Mitt Romney – 99 – 10.40%
3.) Fred Thompson – 77 – 8.09%
4.) Tom Tancredo – 65 – 6.83%

John McCain

Grade: A-

A performance full of patriotism and sacrifice and honor. Sharply challenged Romney and proudly defended his Iraq War position. Said, "I know and respect Senator Clinton," before attacking her now-dead Woodstock appropriation with a sly joke about being "tied up" during the famous concert (he was imprisoned in Vietnam at the time) — a line which drew a rare debate standing ovation from the crowd. Still desperate to be in a one-on-one race — with Romney or anyone — but he's focused, and not giving up.

Rudy Giuliani

Grade: A-

Stood up to onslaught from Thompson on his immigration position, and uncharacteristically chose to fight back rather than dodge. Spent most of his time dispensing calm quips and New York statistics, and played the Clinton card whenever he could. Like the other leading candidates, had a few stumbling moments (like on gay rights) and some high-flying rhetoric, but mostly was just fine — and fine is good enough when you're the frontrunner.

Mitt Romney

Grade: B

His hair was messed up at the debate's start (very humanizing, very un-Mitt), but it seemed to be quickly smoothed off-camera. Got to talk about his opposition to gay marriage, a subject on which he consistently shows passion. Tried to clean up his horrid "first thing we do, let's consult the lawyers" answer from the last debate and embraced his Massachusetts health care plan with a little more brio than usual. Still, seemed vaguely rattled at times and a bit lost.

Fred Thompson

Grade: B

Started with high energy, bountiful quips, and a bundle of opposition research on his opponents' records of deviating from conservative orthodoxy. Ended with a long, staged joke fending off the "lazy" charge. Offered up some timid answers midway. Came across as a warrior at times and was way better than he was in his first rodeo, but still not a dominating figure.

Mike Huckabee

Grade: B

Shied away from the "demolition derby" conflict of the leading candidates and embraced his conservative faith in his signature (ever popular) style. Explicitly put aside humor to say, "There's nothing funny about Hillary being president," and darn near came off as presidential. But never challenged (or was challenged by) any of the four guys ahead of him, which is still necessary if he's going to have a chance.

Ron Paul

Grade: C

A slightly revised mix for this go-round: 1/4 Pat Buchanan, 1/4 Ross Perot, 1/4 Mr. Smith, and 1/4 Mr. Magoo. Unfazed by crowd booing on several occasions over Iraq and America's role in the world. Help: which Saturday Night Live character does he sound like?

Tom Tancredo

Grade: C-

When called on, still ran down more of the clock complaining about how he doesn't get equal time than about immigration and his other signature issues.

Duncan Hunter

Grade: C-

More verve than usual (particularly on economic populism, trade, and missile defense), but Brownback's departure/absence highlights the question on all our minds.

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