9.07.2007

Who Won the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate?

The contest for the Republican nomination may have finally kicked into high gear this week as the 8 official candidates sparred Wednesday night at the University of New Hampshire--and Fred Thompson stopped playing coy and made it official.

Here's a my quick take on the debate performances:

McCain is back to being John McCain--and for proof, he rabbit punched Mitt for his cautious assessment of the surge. Popeye is back! (Also, the Fox focus group rated McCain as the winner.) Grade: B+

Sounding a bit like Reagan with a Gomer Pyle accent, Mike Huckabee earned points for standing against anti-immigrant hatemongering, but lost points for defending the Iraq War at any cost. Grade: B

More third party candidate (or college professor) than corporate Republican, Ron Paul illicited the biggest audience response along with the greatest level of distain from his competitors. (To the utter dismay of Fox' Hannity, the post-debate online survey gave the win to Paul by a margin of 2:1.) Grade: B

Rudy Giuliani boasted that he turned around a crime-invested NYC in response to just about every question. Rudy is an author, consultant to foreign leaders and a former deputy attorney general, but all he talks about is NYC. For a party whose base hates NYC, I'm not sure why Rudy doesn't speak more from his other experiences. Grade: C+

Sam Brownback may be the only true conservative running for president. But in a field lacking in bonafide social and economic conservatives, Brownback doesn't stand out. Perhaps it's a Kansas thing. Grade: C

Mitt Romney still thinks he can win by impersonating George Hamilton playing Patrick Buchanan. Surprisingly, polls show Romney leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Weird. Grade: C-

Duncan Hunter promises to complete 800 miles of the anti-Mexico wall in just 6 months. Grade: D-

Tom Tank-credo seemed to wonder why he's getting no love from his party's base of ultras. After all, it's his dark vision of an anti-immigrant America that the suits are mimicking. Grade: F

Fred Thompson chose not to debate. Instead, he aired a boring commercial and then announced the obvious on Jay Leno. Grade: Incomplete
Transcript: Republican Presidential Primary Debate

Off to the Races (by WSJ's Peggy Noonan)
What you missed while watching "Rescue Me" (by Salon's Michael Scherer)