Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tonight's GOP Debate -- Winners and Losers

There were a couple of parts of the debate worth watching, especially the mini-debate between Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. For that reason alone, those two candidates definitely came out of tonight's debate as victors. Mitt Romney was the clear loser.

I think people who write off Ron Paul as a loon--especially in New Hampshire--will be in for a surprise come primary day. I've said it before: if there is one place in the country where Ron Paul could resonate with voters on a broad scale it is New Hampshire. Republicans in New Hampshire are uncomfortable with the government-first philosophy of the modern neo-conservative Republican party, and Ron Paul will be the beneficiary.

Mike Huckabee was the other big winner. He speaks with a sincerity lacking in most of the other candidates, and his spirited defense of our involvement in Iraq while facing off with Paul showed some real passion. I would not be completely stunned if he were to be the surprise of the spring, and come out of nowhere to claim the nomination. I think he's that good.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, saw for the first time the perils that go along with being the early frontrunner. He was hammered early and often by the panelists, and he did not respond well. He contradicted himself at times, and hedged on some of his answers to the point where both his opponents and his questioners were calling him out. He was racing through his answers and just appeared completely uncomfortable. Romney has the inside track to the nomination, but if he keeps performing like he did tonight, he's in huge trouble.

Dishonorable mention goes to Tom Tancredo, who was cackling and snickering nearly every time Ron Paul was asked a question, or Mitt Romney was dinged. What a clown.

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