1st Republican Debate of 2008 – Video, Transcripts, Reax
I caught perhaps half an hour of last night’s so-called debate between Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and eight other guys. I don’t feel deprived at not having seen the rest. The format was awful and the not unreasonable decision to include people whose candidacy has no shot (Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul, at a minimum) made the time to valuable information ratio even lower than usual for these things. The Politico‘s Mike Murphy writes that, “Despite the 100 laptops urgently typing away here in the press room, it’s hard to say much really happened tonight at the first Republican presidential primary debate.” And his fledgling paper was a co-sponsor!
My wife, who has lived in Virginia the last twelve-plus years, was surprised that Jim Gilmore, the state’s former governor, was running. Despite the fact that we’re both longtime political junkies who vote Republican, neither of us recognized Tancredo, Mike Huckabee, or Ron Paul on sight. That’s probably not good news for those guys.
According to the experts, either McCain, Giuliani, or Mitt Romney won; the most interesting person was Fred Thompson, who wasn’t there; and none of the also-rans did anything to change their status.
Erick Erickson: “John McCain won. Let’s not dance around this. Mitt Romney shined, he stood out, he did well. Rudy Giuliani imploded. Rudy totally and utterly self-destructed tonight. He had many chances to get in good with the core base of Republican voters and ignored every moment.”
Peggy Noonan: “It was an incomplete field that made its debut, but not an unimpressive one. For the first time, as I watched, I thought: Fred Thompson shouldn’t take forever to get in. History moves.”
Ed Morrissey: “Mitt Romney won this debate. He looked relaxed, answered clearly, showed real warmth and a sense of humor, and actually answered the questions asked of him — even the stupid ones.” As to the Thompson Boys, “Fred helped himself tremendously by staying out of this debate” while Tommy “mumbled, stumbled, and vacillated his way through this debate.”
John Hawkins: “Winners: 1) Mike Huckabee 1) Mitt Romney — Both were very charismatic.”
Paul Mirengoff: “John McCain had the best night. He seemed a bit nervous at first, but soon found his stride. He managed more ably than his chief rivals, McCain and Romney, to give answers that will appeal to a reasonably full spectrum of Republican voters without seeming to pander to anyone.”
Kim Priestap: “On the whole, I was impressed with Mitt Romney. ”
Roger Simon: “I think Mitt Romney won. And I think John McCain came in second and Rudy Giuliani came in third.”
Marc Ambinder: “Rudy Giuliani’s answers on Iraq, terrorism and national security were spot on and crisp. His body language showed confidence. For nearly every question about domestic policy, he was able to pivot to his experiences in New York City.” And: “Mitt Romney is great with first impressions, and it’s hard to say whether the spit-polish of his answers dripped off the stage… or whether Romney appeared natural and comfortable. He certainly seemed presidential.” And: “At least five guys on that stage were presidential. If [Fred Thompson] gets in too late, will Republicans be comfortable enough with the field by then?”
Rich Lowry: “This might be … the night when Rudy stopped being solely the hero of 9/11 and started being a presidential candidate like everyone else. It was inevitable at some point.”
Mike Murphy: “None of the dark horse candidates broke through, although several performed credibly and probably increased interest in their campaigns.”
Pollster.com reports that 13% surveyed in California immediately afterwards said they watched the debate and that, “Of those who both watched and are likely to vote in the California Republican primary, 30% thought former Mayor Rudy Giuliani won, 17% thought Sen. John McCain won, and 13% though former Gov. Mitt Romney won.”
Emails from the McCain (
5 6 of them so far!) and Romney (just 1) camps assured me that their candidates won. No word yet from the other eight participants.
Videos of moments that people are talking about:
Giuliani defends public funding for abortion in New York:
(Crooks and Liars has a longer version and notes that “Brownback, Tancredo and Huckabee” raised their hands who the group was asked, “Who does NOT believe in evolution?”)
To McCain: “if you would be comfortable with tom tancredo, a staunch opponent of illegal immigration as head of the immigration naturalization service?” To Romney: “What Do You Dislike Most About America?” To Romney: “Would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for America?” To Romney: “What do you say to Roman Catholic bishops who would deny communion to elected officials who support abortion rights?” To Rep. Paul: “Do you trust the mainstream media?” To All: “Do you think Scooter Libby should be pardoned?” To All: “Does anyone want to pardon him? I want to see .. does any Gentlemen want to raise his hand and say pardon him?” To all: “Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back living in the White House?” Romney: “You have got to be kidding.”