Tonight there will be 10 Republican candidates appearing on a stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Look for each to spend the evening trying to convince you that he, more so than the others, best represents the legacy of Ronald Reagan.
Tonight there will be little, if any, pandering to the general voting populace. Tonight they will be preaching to us, the choir. The Republican base. The Republican base that is disappointed with some, if not many, of George W. Bush's decisions during the past 6 years, so look for each to showcase his conservative credentials.
Chris Matthews, moderator.
Begins by acknowledging Nancy and Arnold. Then introduces the candidates. 90 minutes, what have I set myself up for? Refresh often.
The opening round;
Giuliani begins, seemed a little stuttery, unsure of himself maybe?
McCain, forcefully condemns Congressional Democrats.
Thompson, clear and concise plan laid out.
Hunter, the equal of Thompson.
Romney, somewhat rambling, but better than Giuliani.
Brownback, uninspiring. Sounding like something of a policy guy.
Huckabee, Good answer regarding Rumsfeld firing.
Gilmore, similar to Brownback.
Paul, gives a very sound answer to why he voted against war in Iraq.
Tancredo, I missed his opening round statement somehow.
Round two has Chris digging into policy questions. Let's watch and see who shakes out on top in this round.
Gilmore surprisingly good response to why Bin Laden must be captured.
"What do you dislike most about America Gov. Romney?" What kind of question is that?
Hunter is strong against Iran.
Paul is being the good libertarian.
Giuliani sidesteps Roe v Wade nimbly, as does Romney.
Romney handled the Catholic Communion issue well.
Wow. Matthews just accused Huckabee of changing courses regarding Romney's Mormonism. He did not do so.
Hunter strong on illegal immigration and border security.
Matthews is letting the format fall to pieces.
Gilmore has done much better than I expected (sorry Riley). What's with Matthews trying to lead everyone down this "centrist" path?
Huckabee answers well on "grading the President".
I haven't mentioned Tancredo much yet. He is very compelling with his illegal immigration answers.
On Ron Paul; Electing a Libertarian President is like hiring a vegetarian to manage your steakhouse. You have to like his ideals, but can he satisfy?
Huckabee just hit a home run by backing the Fair Tax. Wait until the next debate when they see thousands attending a Fair Tax rally across the street, more will join Huckabee that evening. I won't say I told you so.
This format really sucks. One or two answer a question, the rest are left out.
Gilmore the only real conservative? Good answer.
Where are some of these questions coming from, Daily Kos? Too many "gotcha" questions.
Gilmore again is coming across very well. Riley may yet be vindicated.
My final thoughts?
Go to the NASCAR race this weekend in Richmond. You will see 43 drivers that are the best in the world. Each of them were superstars at their home arena, potential winners each and every weekend. The ultimate outcome at Richmond will be that 42 of them will lose. But they are all winners. I saw very much the same thing this evening, 10 winners, any one of which could be our next President.
Unlike NASCAR there were no losers tonight, but no clear winner either.
The strongest of the bunch? Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, in that order get my vote as tonights standouts, with Huckabee and Brownback earning honorable mention.
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