I have to admit, Mitt Romney is smooth under pressure. Everyone was gunning for him, and he held his ground. This was his night, and he did well in defending his record. Granted, it would be convenient for my chosen candidate if the field gets split, but I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if Romney were the nominee.
I have great respect for John McCain, but this wasn’t a good debate for him. Oddly enough, he doesn’t do well under pressure. He tends to get too combative when questioned, which doesn’t look good for him.
Everyone knows who my candidate is, and once again, he did well. Not great, but well. Remember, New Hampshire isn’t his state. He isn’t campaigning here, so his position in the polls isn’t relevant to his campaign. He needs to win South Carolina, though, and he didn’t do anything that would knock him out. The problem is that he needs to do more before that contest, or his campaign won’t be able to recover.
Giuliani also failed to make traction. New Hampshire should be a strong state for him, but he’s largely out of the picture. Everyone’s carping on Fred, but Rudy’s really blown his lead in a way that no other candidate has in this race. He could still come back, but that strategy of waiting until Super Tuesday to do well seems to be failing him. Then again, a few weeks from now I could be eating those words, along with many pundits.
Here’s what infuriates me about Mike Huckabee: he’s not qualified to be President, but he gets the pulse of the electorate right. I despise political populism, but the reality is that the electorate doesn’t feel that this country is going in the right direction. He’s the only one really speaking to that, even though Rudy Giuliani touched upon an argument that the GOP should be making. The problem with Huckabee is that he is utterly clueless about foreign policy, and would follow the Bush big government model of conservatism—which ultimately becomes a betrayal of conservative principles.
Romney helped himself tonight, but nobody made any critical mistakes, which leaves the race fairly wide open. Giuliani and Thompson are in the second tier, but could come back based off of the results in South Carolina and Florida. McCain, Romney and Huckabee remain in a deadlock. Of those three, Romney is the most conservative and the most acceptable to both wings of the GOP base. He did very well in Frank Luntz’s focus groups, and for good reason.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—even with all the divisions, the Republican field is strong on the issue, better informed the than Democrats and far more substantive. That certainly counts for much. It’s not just about “change,” it’s about taking this country forward. The Republican field would do that, and for all Obama’s personal magnetism, he doesn’t nearly the depth that the Republicans do.