I’ve got to give Romney credit for fighting ferociously tonight. He’s smart, and he’s not giving an inch. There’s no question that Romney’s shifting positions over the years have hurt him in this race. But it’s interesting that he’s unafraid to hammer away at his foes. I suppose his thinking is that if he is going down, he’ll go down battling.
Archive for the ‘Republican Debate’ Category
Thirty minutes into the Republican debate from St. Anselm College, I have the following observations:
• They all look tired. I am surprised by how fatigued Mitt Romney looks.
• The question on whether each candidate would follow President Bush’s foreign policy seemed to put the candidates on their heels. So did the use of video and sound from President Bush. The last things these guys want is to be lumped in with Bush.
• On the substance, I thought the responses of Giuliani, McCain, Thompson and Romney on the danger of terrorism were all solid. It was interesting to see Romney reach for some foreign policy substance by invoking specific Islamist clerics. Politically, however, Huckabee had the best comment, saying he’s “not running for George Bush’s third term.”
• Given the level of scrutiny on Huckabee’s past critiques of Bush’s foreign policy, I have to note that I was the first columnist to examine his statements in this area. I wrote: “Quick to personify nations while talking about international relations, at times he sounds like he is channeling a European member of the Green Party.”
Here’s my take on last night’s debate in Michigan. I saw it as a good night for Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. While Fred Thompson showed up, his performance fell below expectations
The big story at tonight’s Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan is not just the first appearance of Fred Thompson in a debate, which seems to be the prevailing story-line. By the time the general election is held in November, 2008, one way or another, the Iraq War will have receded somewhat as a political issue. At this point, the economy, I believe, will be a central issue. The G.O.P candidates will provide their perspectives on the economy tonight.
Mitt Romney needs to have a big night and he can. Not only is Romney the son of a former Michigan governor and c.e.o. of American Motors, he is the only candidate in the race with a record of creating jobs in the private sector. There’s no question that Romney was a disappointment in Massachusetts as far as being a c.e.o. who could recruit other business executives to come to Massachusetts, but it’s also true that he never invested the time necessary to do this. I did see him, along with Mayor Menino, personally lobby representatives of Virgin Airlines to headquarter their new domestic airlines in Boston. Still, economic issues should be Romney’s sweet spot.
John McCain delivered a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. He’s trying to get into the anti-tax act:
“Unfortunately, we find ourselves at a time when the U.S. economy is growing more slowly than anyone would like. As you are well aware, conditions in Michigan are even tougher, with the state suffering through one of the most severe recessions since World War II.
Tough times can breed fear, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are using those fears to push an agenda that is tired, dangerous, and will rob us of economic freedom. Once again, they want the government to make our choices for us – not respect our dreams, and trust our decisions on how best to seize our opportunities. ”
As for Rudy Giuliani, I don’t believe you can separate his mayoral leadership from the economic boom New York enjoyed in the 1990s.
Hats off to Mike Huckabee who did just about as good a job as somebody can do in refuting Ron Paul last night. Paul had been launching into his tirades all night, and it fell to Huckabee, whom just weeks ago I criticized on the grounds of his foreign policy, to confront him. NOTE: none of the other major candidates went near Paul. I thought he showed guts.
“MR. HUCKABEE: We have to continue the surge. And let me explain why, Chris. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me. If I picked something off the shelf of the store and I broke it, I bought it.
I learned don’t pick something off the shelf I can’t afford to buy.
Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away because something is at stake. Senator McCain made a great point, and let me make this clear. If there’s anybody on this stage that understands the word honor, I’ve got to say Senator McCain understands that word — (applause, cheers) — because he has given his country a sacrifice the rest of us don’t even comprehend. (Continued applause.)
And on this issue, when he says we can’t leave until we’ve left with honor, I 100 percent agree with him because, Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion that historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. HUME: Go ahead. You wanted to respond? He just addressed you; you go ahead and respond. (Continued applause.)
REP. PAUL: The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservative hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people. They’re not responsible. We shouldn’t punish them. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. HUCKABEE: Congressman, we are one nation. We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country, the United States of America, not the divided states of America. (Cheers.)
REP. PAUL: No. When we make a mistake — (interrupted by applause) — when we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people through their representatives to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake! (Cheers, applause.)
MR. HUCKABEE: And that’s what we do on the floor of the —
REP. PAUL: No! We’ve dug a hole for ourselves and we dug a hole for our party!
We’re losing elections and we’re going down next year if we don’t change it, and it has all to do with foreign policy, and we have to wake up to this fact.
MR. HUCKABEE: Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor, and that is more important to the Republican Party.
REP. PAUL: We’re losing — we’ve lost over — (cheers, applause) — we have lost — we have lost 5,000 Americans killed in — we’ve lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan and Iraq and plus the civilians killed. How many more do you want to lose? How long are we going to be there? How long — what do we have to pay to save face? That’s all we’re doing is saving face. It’s time we came home!”