Category Archives: Debates

Will the Debates Matter in Florida?

With the days until the Florida primary counting down, the debates were once again being closely watched as a potential way for the top two candidates to steal momentum from the other, or even for one of the come from behind candidates to make their case to the voters. I missed Monday’s debate (I know, for shame!) but I watched last night’s performance with some interest and was a bit dissapointed that it seemed pretty balanced overall. Not that being balanced in performance is a bad thing, it just means that last night’s debate, unlike the South Carolina debates, probably isn’t going to significantly help or hurt any of the candidates, and that makes me wonder if the debates will even matter in Florida after being so critical in SC.

As far as who did well last night, it’s hard for me to say anyone “won” since no one had a spectacular night and they were all a bit mixed.

Romney got some good hits in on Gingrich (hypocritical hits, but I count them as good since Newt didn’t hit back effectively to point out the hypocrisy) early and then got back to stumbling over things when diverted from his talking points. is actual performance in questions was pretty mediocre, but his fake moral high ground card may help him out as long as people don’t watch his ads or listen to him speak at events.

Gingrich was on the defensive all night and that’s a weaker position for him than the offensive, but he seemed to handle the immigration and particularly Israel answers well and that gave him some momentum to close out on. There are two things Newt needs to do if he wants to keep momentum on his side though, and he’s not doing them well right now. The first is he needs to stop making outlandish attacks he’s not willing to back up. Calling Romney anti-immigrant was a risky play and it backfired. He needs to pay attention to Romney’s style- make small numerous attacks that are difficult to counter and then pretend to be morally superior after your attacks. He also desperately needs to be able to counter Romney’s attacks more effectively. Romney successfully countered Newt’s attacks without having much more substance or any more truth to his statements than Gingrich’s attacks had, and unless Gingrich can follow up Romney’s attacks with some solid facts or an effectively pointing out Romney’s hypocrisy on that issue he’s going to appear to be the weaker candidate. I’m sure his debate coach or campaign staff are telling him this too, I just hope he listens or this won’t be a two or three man race for long.

 

Santorum came across much stronger than normal because of his “get back to the issues” plea (you know he had that one up his sleeve waiting for an opportune moment- he’s seen how Newt capitalizes off calling out media fluff questions and he wanted a piece), but when asked to explain his own views he stumbles around and doesn’t appear prepared. It was also more than a little amusing to see him call for civility and ending attacks and then turn around and use his questions as an opportunity to attack Romney and Newt. He’s desperate to do well enough in Florida to regain enough momentum to continue his campaign and it shows.

 

Ron Paul didn’t have to do much defending and people still like his message about constitutional freedoms and the money supply and such, but he also didn’t earn any new points or followers since it was pretty much the same old thing all over again. He has his strong anti-establishment young voter base, they’re not going anywhere, but they’re also not going to matter in Florida since it’s an all or nothing state for delegates. The only thing that he might be able to do is kill off Rick Santorum’s campaign, but he would need to build a bit more support in Florida to do that. I do think that his message will resonate with some of the elderly voters that remember the “good old days” of cheaper healthcare, not being groped at the airport, and retirement accounts that were solvent, but the elderly vote is probably more likely to gravitate to Romney (partly for looks/style and success in business) and Newt because they make more loud statements about how to fix things than Ron Paul effectively delivers.

 

It’ll be interesting to see how Florida plays out. I have no idea who will win- Newt has used debates to his advantage thus far, but his performances this week have just been average and that may not be enough to overcome the pre-existing Romney machine advantage in the sunshine state, which is what he needed to do. Romney has done well enough in debates and has been scathing enough in his attacks against Gingrich in Florida events that he may not be gaining new support per se, but he’s not giving people a reason to vote for someone else and that’s probably all it will take with the others fighting for whatever’s left. Newt and Romney will be fighting each other, barring some miraculous Paul or Santorum performance in Florida, for at least a few more states, but Gingrich needs to stay pretty even with Romney in Florida to keep momentum on his side. I do think that Florida might be enough to kill off Santorum if he comes in last- he’s out of money and out of momentum and he needs something to put some new life back in his campaign if he’s going to be able to continue in Nevada and beyond. If Ron Paul, who’s not even actively campaigning in Florida, beats him there then I think he’ll have no other option but to drop out. Paul has the luxury of a pretty steady money supply and loyal followers, so he’s going to be around as long as he possibly can.

-M

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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, CNN, Debates, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Politics, Romney, Ron Paul, Santorum

Ron Paul gets a raw deal from the pundits…

Tonight’s CNN debate was a mess. I thought Fox News did a mediocre job (they normally do) with the debate earlier this week, but tonight CNN managed to make that one look like it had substance. I don’t know if you could call anyone a winner tonight, no one really excelled they were so bogged down with personal background garbage, but watching the comments/”scorecards” going up on twitter and facebook I think Ron Paul is getting a raw deal. 


Everyone seems to have Dr. Paul as the weakest performer tonight and I think that’s incorrect. In my view, Santorum (who admittedly is my least favorite of the remaining candidates) was the weakest tonight simply because his entire strategy rested on throwing attacks, many of which were completely irrelevant to the issues at hand, at the others and attempting to play a consistent conservative high card with each attack. All three of his opponents put him back in his place repeatedly with answers or stats to counter his attacks and his strategy reeked of desperation and an overall lack of substance. You don’t play the “I’m doing well in the polls and I can take on Obama” card and turn around and pout or throw petty personal attacks at your opponents the next second and then not be able to adequately back them up. He did succeed in bruising Romney a bit, but I thought Romney had a pretty good first hour when he managed to inject some passion and excitement in his ideas for the first time I can remember since I started watching the debates. The rest of the night wasn’t as great for him, and he did a pretty poor job answering the tax and abortion questions, but I don’t think he did badly overall. Likewise, Gingrich has a very strong opening exchange, but you could tell he was a little off his game overall tonight compared to previous debates and I think this personal stuff going on with his angry ex-wife is taking a toll on his concentration regardless of how much of it is true. Paul didn’t do a very good job of delivering real answers to several of the questions tonight, which is a bit unusual for him, but his style was smoother than normal and he got some hits in on Santorum simply by countering Santorum’s statements against him.  It’s the first debate I wish I hadn’t watched, but I was curious to see how things played out with Rick Perry off the stage. The dynamic was certainly different, but it’s impossible to say how much the field has changed when a debate centers around unimportant personal history and petty attacks instead of the biggest issues facing whoever our next President will be. 


With that said, I think Ron Paul did a lot better tonight than the media is giving him credit for and he deserves to be placed ahead of Rick Santorum in any evaluation of the debate. Paul was able to counter every one of Santorum’s attacks and in my opinion did some damage to Santorum’s credibility in the way he handled the issues. I may not have Dr. Paul as my top pick in this race anymore, but I won’t ignore it when the media ignores his strengths. 

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Filed under 2012 Election, CNN, Debates, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Perry, Politics, President, Republican, Romney, Ron Paul, Santorum

I’m a Ron Paul Defector, but Let Me Explain…

In the second South Carolina debate this week, Rick Santorum said he was the best person for the presidency because he could get results in Washington. While doing so, he criticized Newt Gingrich for the “grandiosity” of his ideas and said that Newt rarely gets results. Although I think that’s just factually incorrect, I found it interesting that with the candidates whittled down to the final four, they’re finally getting more serious about who can actually accomplish what they preach. Although I explained in my last post why I think Gingrich is the most logical person to get results as President, I want to explain why I think Ron Paul, my other favored candidate in the race, isn’t the right choice for the nomination. 

My concern with Ron Paul is exactly Santorum’s concern with Gingrich. Ron Paul has a good talk and a lot of pro-liberty/freedom rhetoric, and I do like quite a bit of what he says, but he can’t get results out of any of it because he has little to no interest in working with others. I voted for Ron Paul in the 08 Primary, and I do like him as a politician (which is rare for me), but I can’t get over the feeling he’d be an incredibly ineffective president. He has been in Congress a very long time and his record reflects his beliefs, which I like. Unfortunately he’s largely ignored by both parties and spins his wheels when trying to push for or implement any of his ideas. This is actually a large part of why (other than the intelligence, etc. mentioned previously) I currently favor Gingrich- I think he would actually get results simply because of his history. No, I don’t think he sticks to his beliefs as hardline as Paul does, but I don’t think you can actually be that inflexible and get anything accomplished in Washington D.C. No, I don’t really like parts of Gingrich’s personal background, and no, I don’t agree with everything he has done (this goes for both though), but he did get results in the 90s working with both sides and I think he could do it again.  Gingrich was instrumental in reaching a bipartisan balanced budget even after his very aggressive campaign to put Republicans into Congress in 94 and he actually got Bill Clinton to sign it eventually. I’m sure there were compromises made along the way, but I can’t think of any American right now that doesn’t want their government to get back to a balanced budget and put the ridiculous partisan politics aside long enough to actually get some work done. 



Ultimately, I think that’s what we need this election, whether Republicans realize it yet or not. You don’t need a leader with great ideas that can’t get anyone else to support him- the Presidency is not a bubble of total power. We need someone who can get results out of a dysfunctional government and start getting things back on track. Unfortunately I just can’t find a way to convince myself that Paul is that candidate. Based off his track record of largely standing alone on issues and being known as “Dr. No” even in his own party, I don’t think Paul can get any bipartisan traction going or get many (if any) of his bigger reform goals accomplished. The president can’t stand alone and get anything done, and that is exactly what Dr. Paul has done with his time in Congress, no matter how much I respect him and his views. 

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Filed under 2012 Election, Debates, Gingrich, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Paul, Politics, President, Republican, Ron Paul, Santorum

Why Newt Gingrich Dominates Debates

Tonight’s Fox News debate may have been the worst one I’ve watched from the perspective of loaded or “gotcha” questions. Juan Williams was far from the only one asking loaded questions, but his questions really seemed hell bent on creating racial tensions and judgments out of statements or policies that had little, if anything, to do with race and the audience was getting fed up with it too judging by their noises and twitter. The other moderators were no better, their questions were just spread over more issues. I don’t know if that’s a Fox News thing or what, but it was quite irritating. 

I thought Newt did a very good job tonight because he took his aptitude for these debate settings and injected enough passion into it to make him come across as the most genuine in their views tonight by a good margin. He normally does well in debates, but pretty much everything I’ve read tonight felt he “won” tonight with his performance and the feedback was surprisingly positive from people that I know don’t care for him. Romney had a rare “bad” performance, which is probably what allowed Gingrich to steal more of the show, mainly because he let himself get thrown off his normally smooth style by the others and their questions, most notably Santorum. It wasn’t all bad of course, but he was all over the place tonight and I think it might have actually hurt him a little as far as SC is concerned. Santorum had his best debate performance tonight by a good margin and I think probably scored some points off of Romney by being able to appear more knowledgeable on some policy issues and calling him out on his redirection in how he somewhat avoided questions. Perry did surprisingly well tonight, which I guess is nice, but I think he may almost be a non-issue at this point. Paul had a hit or miss night, he did pretty well until foreign policy and once again let himself get side tracked and preachy, which isn’t helping him out any. I think Paul normally comes across as one of the most genuine and straightforward, so appearing a bit disjointed and indirect tonight was a bit unusual for him from what I’ve seen.



The reason Gingrich’s performance tonight was so powerful isn’t because it was just that much better than all his other performances, it wasn’t. It’s because he has been top dog in the debates since this whole circus started. He may not always have the flashiest one liners (although now that Herman Cain is gone he’s had the most) in a debate, but he stays on message, he answers the questions, and doesn’t waste time with empty rhetoric or loaded questions meant to stir up trouble. He doesn’t lose composure like some of the others and can keep his train of thought when others throw a curveball, unlike Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. Tonight was just chaotic enough to show the American people how competent Gingrich actually is, and although I’ve been warming to him over the past several weeks and I researched his platform and watched the debates, I think tonight solidified his position at the top of my list for the Republican Nominee. Newt Gingrich’s intelligence, history of getting results in a bipartisan way, and overall speaking ability make him a powerful leader and I think that would translate into him being a very effective president. I know some won’t agree with me and there are many (I’ve received messages from more than a few) that think I’m nuts for this viewpoint, but I think that the Republicans, Independents, and defecting Democrats that want to get this economy and this country back on track should be listening to what Gingrich says. Not just because it sounds good, all of the candidates have some very nice sounding ideas, but because he actually has the history demonstrating an ability to get his ideas done, and that is what sets him apart as the most logical candidate to get results.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, Debates, Fox News, Gingrich, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Politics, President, Republican, Romney

Why Romney Isn’t the Inevitable Nominee

I’ve had to defend my view recently of not caring for Mitt Romney since he’s potentially the least polarizing of the current candidates. Let me explain… It’s not that I find any one thing especially discouraging about Romney as a potential nominee, it’s that I find everything about him mediocre as a potential nominee. The sense of inevitability the media is using to talk about his campaign simply isn’t logical, and I’ll try to explain why with a few statements I’ve had thrown my way. 


“Romney is the only one with a chance to win against Obama”
I think that’s a foolish assumption, especially since I remember people saying back in 08 that the Democrats better nominate Hillary if they wanted anyone with a chance of winning the election. Romney’s “strength”, in my opinion, is the general feeling of ambivalence most people have towards him. Unlike Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, Perry, etc. there isn’t a lot of reason to hate the guy, just as there isn’t a whole lot of reason to love him. He’s just “okay” in most ways and doesn’t do much to make people love or hate him it seems. That’s a recipe to get elected if your opponent has a lot of reasons to be hated I suppose, (makes you seem like the lesser of the evils at the very least) but it’s not realistic to say that it’s the only way to win this election. 


“Romney is presidential and good at debates”
From a perception standpoint this may be right. I don’t find Romney likable and I really don’t think most people that actually pay attention to what he says will either. He is a skilled politician in the sense that he can speak for hours and hit his highlighted talking points without saying anything of real substance or actually answering any questions. Clinton was skilled at this too (more skilled, I’d argue) but being able to speak well or redirect a conversation in your favor isn’t the same thing as being likable. I like Paul and Gingrich more from a speaking standpoint simply because they don’t bullshit as much and talk in circles. They answer a question and tell you what’s on their mind (whether it’s the truth or not I have no way of knowing, but that’s true of anyone) in a no-nonsense way and that’s much more likable to me than the “better” speaker Romney. Romney does have a more presidential look to him for intangible reasons I can’t explain, but I don’t find anything about him likable. I liked him more when I hadn’t listened to him in debates and interviews, but like Obama, his speaking ability is a lot less impressive if you’re actually paying any attention to content and I think Romney won’t appeal to the more attentive/educated electorate for any other reason than the general ambivalence I mentioned earlier. That’s just my theory though, maybe I’m alone on this. 


Romney dominates debates
I read this, and I agree that he is possibly the most skilled speaker, but what this guy generally fails to point out is that he uses the same techniques that the author claims lets him “dominate debates” to avoid answering most of the questions he is asked. Stephan-however you spell his name-oppolus had to ask him the same question several times in one instance during the New Hampshire debates and still couldn’t get a straight answer out of him. I respect a candidate who answers a question with substance much more than one that’s skilled at craftily evading it.


“The Republicans don’t have anyone else electable to run against Obama”
Well, I think Perry and Santorum are doomed eventually due to lack of substance and polarizing statements, and I haven’t liked either of them from the start, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right or that they can’t somehow pull it off. I really don’t think the statement is believable though, simply because the Democrats don’t really have a lot in Obama either. The shiny rhetoric and marketing of the 08 campaign has lost all luster simply because it was pretty much a one-time-use tagline and when you get down to substance he doesn’t have a whole lot going for him either. I still think his reasons for getting elected (other than a very unfortunate Republican ticket) have nothing to do with his overall personal strengths or platform and that re-election will be much harder for him because of that. Obviously it’s still anyone’s game at this point, and as such it’s shortsighted to rule out the rest of the republican field. Most people weren’t expecting a McCain nomination or an electable Obama at this point in 08.



Of course, I may be totally wrong about all of this, but I think it’s pretty logical to say nothing is near decided yet.




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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, Debates, Politics, President, Republican, Romney

My take on the Western Republican Presidential Debate

I participated in a CNN iReport tonight after watching the Western Republican Presidential Debate. The video can be viewed here: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-691309, the text transcript is included below.
In regards to tonight’s CNN Republican debate, there are a few things that stuck out to me as a potential republican voter.
First and foremost was that Herman Cain handled himself well under pressure. Although we don’t have enough details on his 9-9-9 plan yet, he was under heavy attack from the beginning and came across as straightforward and confident.
Second: Romney, Perry, and Santorum all spent too much time arguing and yelling and too little time proposing real solutions to the problems facing America. Their choice to argue instead of answer the questions is discouraging.
Third: Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich both came across as honest and transparent and that makes me think they’re worth paying attention to.
And finally, Michelle Bachmann, much like Romney, is a strong speaker that often chooses to ignore the question to promote their own campaign rhetoric.
I think Herman Cain is the man to watch right now, but ignoring Gingrich or Paul would be a mistake. Romney will continue to be significant due to his recognition and finances, but was not tonight’s strongest performer.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Bachmann, Cain, Candidate, CNN, Debates, Gingrich, GOP, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Politics, Republican, Romney, Santorum

Why I Watch Debates and You Should Too…

Earlier today I commented to an acquaintance that I planned on watching tonight’s GOP Debate, to which they responded:

I think debates are useless for party-faithful.  They’re more useful for “independents” who don’t know jack about what’s going on and vote based on candidates image.

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard statements like this, so I had to explain to him why debates actually matter in the process of choosing a nominee. Simply put, I disagree on both counts. I am one of the (some would argue naive) people that actually is trying to see if potential candidates can actually back their platforms and get a sense for how they would perform under pressure. I don’t care for Obama as a president much at all, but I’m also not willing to vote for some random guy off the street just because he isn’t Obama, which is what some of the Republican candidates seem to be banking on. I’m paying as much attention to debates as possible and if a potential candidate can’t defend their positions, comes across as clueless, or just seems like the same empty suit toting the party-line rhetoric, they’re not going to get my interest or support. I think the debates serve a pretty important purpose when it comes to seeing how the candidates interact with each other, defend (or don’t) their positions, and respond to criticism. I don’t really consider myself an independent, but I don’t think being as informed as possible about your potential options is a useless exercise. 


The first step towards putting some sanity back into politics is to actually pay attention to what is going on. If you’re not making sure you do enough research into a candidate, especially someone you are trusting to run the country for four years, to have some real concrete reasons for voting for them you’re part of the problem with the US and our political system in general. Don’t vote for a candidate based off 30 second TV ads. Don’t vote for a candidate because of the party letter by their name. Don’t vote for a candidate because they use some flashy rhetoric that makes you feel good. Do your research. Know the issues and where you stand on them. Vote for someone you think represents those issues. Democracy only gets good results when you are an informed voter. There’s no room for laziness.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barack Obama, Debates, GOP, Politics, President