Analyzing the New Hampshire Republican Debate

Last night I had to log off as soon as the GOP debate ended, so I thought I'd log my impressions this morning. The Good

Thompson, McCain, and Giuliani helped themselves in varying degrees. Captain Ed Morrissey seems to agree:

Fred Thompson got Romney to admit he liked the "mandates that you want". It seemed to me that Thompson and McCain won the foreign policy portion of the debate. Everyone got a chance to score a few points off of Ron Paul, who trotted out the same tired "terrorism is our fault" theme that he just can't seem to surrender.

Likewise, Erick at

Winners were Thompson and McCain. I think they had the most memorable lines of the night. On the "Don't you love Obama" question, Fred's response shined. It was, in a nutshell, "He's a liberal. He'll destroy the country."

McCain was the ultimate patriot, even if his approach to illegal immigration lies to the left of mainstream. He was tough, decisive, and intelligent throughout the debate. I lost a lot of respect for McCain when he lied about Pat Buchanan in 2000. His four-year temper tantrum against President Bush didn't help his image with me, either. Still, I think he scored some points among the "hold your nose and vote for McCain" crowd.

Giuliani's likability hit new highs last night. He was funny, quick, and warm. The only blow that landed was thrown by Fred Thompson, again on illegal immigration. Giuliani tried to deny that he made New York a sanctuary city. While his sanctuary rules came with qualifications that the Dems would never require, denying that he defied federal law by granting effective amnesty to illegals was disingenuous. His frequent invokation of Reagan didn't hurt because he never claimed to be the second coming thereof, as Mike Huckabee has tended to do.

Fred Thompson continued to demonstrate why he's the only true conservative on the dais. He understands the 10th Amendment, without which all other Amendments are unenforcible. He understands the power of the market over government, and he sees the abject danger in Barack Obama's socialist agenda. Yet he missed an opportunity to show America why we should hope for 8 years of "President Thompson." He was the least talkative of the candidates. At one point, he sat silent for almost 20 minutes. Fred is running out of time to seize opportunities. He has the right answers--he needs to give them. Then again, being in Thompson's corner, I tend to be more critical of him than I am of his opponents. I'm the same with the St. Louis Blues who shutout the Carolina Hurricane last night, 1-0.

The Bad

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney must feel like they were hit by trains this morning.

Huckabee was as phony and predictable as a See 'n' Say. At one point, Charlie Gibson asked Romney to respond to a question posited by President Bush at a recent press conference concerning each candidate's bedrock principles. Huckabee's answer was a string of cliches ending in a tired maxim, devoid of thought, rich in preparation, signifying lack of principles. Huckabee should have passed.

Said Michelle Malkin,

Huckabee was nervous. In past debates, he performed the best–injecting humor, memorable one-liners, etc. Tonight, he was rehearsed and careful and brittle.

Romney was simply wrong throughout the debate. He flat out lied about his own campaign attacks on McCain's immigration bill. According to the AP:

"I don't describe your plan as amnesty in my ad, I don't call it amnesty," Romney shot back - even though two of his TV commercials use the term, including on that says McCain "wrote the amnesty bill that America rejected."

On Sunday, Romney acknowledged: "I was incorrect."

With Romney already sliding in the polls in New Hampshire and nationally, that one lie could be his undoing. If so, one of the candidates better step up and stop Huckabee.

The Ugly

Ron Paul's anti-American, pro-Islamofascist diatribes were profane and sickening. Were Ron Paul elected President of the United States, he'd paint targets on our tallest buildings and provide blueprints of nuclear reactors online. He wants to coddle and appease terrorists around the world. Giuliani slapped him down bitterly but not violently enough when Paul said that Islamic terrorism is targeted exclusively at the United States. Captain Ed had a thought that I had, as well:

I had to wonder a little bit about Paul's supposed devotion to the Constitution. He said that we can't afford to spend a trillion dollars on health care because we're in a trillion-dollar war. Wouldn't an originalist also mention that the federal government doesn't have a Constitutional mandate to spend the trillion dollars on health care -- and at least acknowledge that it does have that mandate for national security, even if Paul thinks the policy is misguided?


Mitt Romney is done. The Sunday talk shows will eat him alive over his lie about McCain. Huckabee is shallow and empty, but Americans tend to like that in a presidential candidate (think Clinton--either one). Thompson missed a great opportunity to rise to the top, and he might not have another one. Giuliani and McCain prevailed. Ron Paul should be kicked out of the GOP, if not the country.