Carol Platt Liebau: The Republican Debate

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Republican Debate

Some random observations:

* Ron Paul isn't really a libertarian -- he's really just an anti-war crank. Any self-respecting libertarian would have challenged the concept that it's the federal government's role or responsibility to provide healthcare. His rants take up time that real candidates could use, and his performance tonight justifies Fox News' decision to remove him from tomorrow's debate. He's just an easy whipping boy for the rest of the candidates.

* Mike Huckabee may be the frontrunner, but he still comes across as a non-entity. His willingness just to sit back and say as little as possible bespeaks a certain lack of confidence in his own grasp of the issues. And when he did speak on topics like illegal immigration, one had the feeling he was only participating in order to remind people he was still around, rather than being able to add something of real substance to the debate. His remarks on the importance of getting the message of "change" and "unity" behind Senator Obama's candidacy show a shrewd understanding of the political game.

* John McCain made a mistake in letting his ugly side show. Polls have him up against Mitt Romney in New Hampshire; why would he bother with the cheap shots that remind people of all the temperament issues that dog him? Those who fear that it may come down to Huckabee-McCain were looking for a reason to rethink their assessment of him as prickly, sanctimonious and easily dislikable. He did nothing to bring those folks to a reluctant resignation to the possibility of him becoming a renewed frontrunner.

* Fred Thompson gives the impression that he thinks that a slow drawl and a couple witty asides are enough to become president. One got the feeling he would rather heckle his competitors, especially Mitt Romney, than make a substantive case for his own candidacy. If he doesn't care about winning enough to work for it, why should the rest of us work for him?

* Rudy Giuliani had a solid if unremarkable night. Perhaps it should worry him that so few of the other candidates want to mix it up with him.

* Mitt Romney was ganged up on all night. Nonetheless, he did a solid job in making the argument that he could make a strong "change" case up against Senator Obama, and came out strong on the health care issue. And he did draw blood against Senator McCain when he pointed out that McCain's pitch against Obama (about experience, etc.) hadn't worked for any other candidate so far. Unlike some of the other candidates on the stage, it seemed that he had substance to his responses and actually cares about winning. It's interesting, and somewhat remarkable, that all the other candidates seem to dislike him. Is it the fact that he's able to be a truly national candidate, jealousy on the part of the others, or something else that I'm just not getting?


Blogger B said...

The other Republican candidates don't hate Romney, Carol. He's the percieved front runner, so they are attempting to make him look less appealing.

But there is also this - he is not fully comfortable in his own skin. He reminds so many people nationally - and dozens of people I know personally - a little too much of "Slick Willie": someone willing to change just about any position in order to achieve a goal.

By the way, I am an evangelical who understands where Huckabee is coming from, - BUT - I am not supporting him. Right now it's between Mitt and Rudy for me - The Supreme Court is so important.

But - I am angry at the personal attacks thrown at Huckabee by some of our friends in the blog/radio business. I had to call Michael Medved to have him talk with you-know-who because his over-the-top condemnations of Huckabee were angering many (some VERY well known) evangelicals at Southern California Universities and Churches. Believe me: I talk regularly with numerous leaders of the evangelical movement. And they will forgive but they will also remember who went too far. I disagree with Huckabee on numerous issues - but that's the point. It is time to tone the fear mongering about Huckabee down. Huckabee will fade soon enough.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my capsule synopsis of the debate:

*Ron Paul -- The Gold Standard.

*Mike Huckabee -- If I don't say anything maybe no one will know I'm here. Be the chair--be the chair.

*John McCain -- Hey, you kids! Get off of my lawn! Why I oughta...

Fred & Rudy -- (I've got nothing. Does anyone really care about these two?)

*Mitt Romney -- Stop it. Just stop picking on me. You are all a bunch of meany pantsers.

Man oh man, all y'all Republicans better hope for a brokered convention. Forget about the Reagan coalition--with this bunch of winners the Dems have a chance to top Reagan's record for electoral college votes. (Sorry about harshing your buzz, Carol.)

9:54 PM  
Blogger Righty64 said...

The reason is why the rest of the Republican candidates are ganging up on Mr. Romney? He is the only candidate who has the money for the long haul in the primaries and the general election campaign. And there is a jealousy and resentment that comes across by Sen. McCain that makes most Republicans cringe. Bob Dole was more humorous than Sen. McCain. Same with the Rev. Mike. Hey, this is not the Democrat primary! We who are Republicans want you to defend lowering taxes and real tax reform, not a gimmick like the so-called "fair tax." Remember, you are all trying to remind Republicans that Ronald Reagan brought the party to the promised land. Class warfare won't do it. Mr. Reagan did not use it and neither should Sen. McCain or the Rev. Mike try that trick. Mr. Romney will, no matter what happens on Tuesday in New Hampshire, win the Republican nomination for president.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Kate said...


For you to say that Thompson's remarks were not"substantive" leads me to believe you cannot be an objective critic. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Thompson's remarks were very SUBSTANTIVE. Your remarks about Thompson has really lowered my respect for you. I know Romney is your guy but for you to belittle Thompson like this doesn't reflect well on you.


Kate L

3:58 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...


I respect your opinion and am sorry you disagree with my critique. I didn't say that Thompson's remarks weren't substantive; I did say that he doesn't seem to want to do what it takes to make a substantive pitch for his own candidacy. I think he performed much better in Sunday night's debate in that regard, but I just don't think it's enough. I would have loved to have loved Thompson, because I think he's the candidate who could have most easily unified the Republican base, but he just hasn't done enough to show me he's committed to winning.

7:23 PM  

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