Saturday, January 05, 2008

Quick impressions, random thoughts on ABC Presidential debate

Charlie Gibson did a great job. The format was much, much better than all previous debates.

Stark contrasts between all the candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. Quite a few similarities, too.

Republicans need to watch out. There is a lot of energy coming from Barack and Edwards that isn't coming across on the Republican side.

Unfortunately, a lot of the reason people vote these days is simply likability. Substance gets lost to some degree.

I'm undecided even today as to who I'll vote for in February. I'm watching closely not only what the candidates stances on issues are, but also to see how well I think they'll do in debates with their ultimate opponent. I'm looking at how well they handle tough questions, whether they come across well, and to some degree, whether they "look" and "act" presidential.

Mainly I'm going to be voting on substance, but those touchy-feely things are going to play a large part in how a large segment of our population will vote come November.

I popped those past two paragraphs in here only to give you an idea of what I was looking for when "judging" the candidate's performance this evening.

On the Republican side I thought Romney did very well. He handled the jabs, he was very knowledgeable, he looked good and if I had to pick a 'winner' I suppose he would be my choice in this debate.

Huckabee, who I've liked quite a bit in past days and months, didn't fare so well in my opinion. He sounded rehearsed, had that soothing tone that doesn't quite sound real to me. He stayed quiet on issues that I would like to have seen him discuss. Part of his likability for me is the fact that he comes across as someone who doesn't get into typical politics, into poking at or attacking others. He made some jabs tonight that seemed out of character, almost like someone told him he needed to come across tougher so he struck out. He seemed uncomfortable. I was disappointed in some of his responses and disappointed in his performance. Everyone has a bad night though and they've all been running 24/7 so I'm not ready to give up on him yet.

McCain lost ground when the issue of immigration came up during the debate. He was fairly quiet overall. He does well when the issue of foreign policy is being discussed but that was only a small portion of the debate.

Thompson made good points and I generally like his stances on issues. However, he's slow to answer questions. He hesitates, has long pauses where I can almost see his mind searching for the right words. I found myself wanting to pull the answers from him. I can't see him hanging in there in a debate with Obama or Edwards. I think they'd run circles around him.

Giuliani didn't have his normal vibrancy. He didn't seem to be on his toes tonight. It's all over and I'm having a hard time thinking of anything he did that just jumped out and said "good one Rudy." He definitely had problems in the area of illegal immigration.

Ron Paul never seems to be at a loss for words. He makes his points well and you can feel his fire and conviction. If his stance on Iraq were different he'd probably be someone more Republicans could get behind. He did well tonight, however it's probably not going to translate to delegates.

On the Democratic side Richardson, who is usually likable, came across as school marmish. Canned. He had points to make and he made sure to get them in when he could, but he lost ground when he did. He had one good line on experience not being a bad thing. However, he diluted the point to much when he used it to start listing all of his experience. The line was good, it stood alone and he killed it.

Clinton stood her ground, came across as the most knowledgeable. She made her points with some substance. She had one really good moment when the likability question came up. You'd have to watch it to appreciate her handling of the question. I'd bet the exchange will be played again (and again, and again) as it was one of the fun moments of the debate.

Edwards gets the award for being the most passionate and engaging. After reading his releases, his campaign info and hearing him in numerous debates I am getting a little tired of the same lines. There are some I found myself saying in tandem with him to the amusement of my husband. More than likely only political junkies like myself would see his performance as practiced.

Obama didn't make any mistakes which means he's a winner, along with Clinton. He came across as steady, personable and thoughtful. He defended himself well and seemed to know his stuff. He is very likable and it's easy to see why he's attaining almost rock-star status among the younger generation in particular.

Overall, I'd say the Democratic debate was much more fun than the Republican debate. There were more zingers, the conversation was more engaging and lively. The Democrats spent a good amount of time attacking Bush, Republicans, past policies, the war in Iraq and probably a few things that are slipping my mind at the moment. On the Republican side they talked issues. The only time they got into discussing Democratic policy or their opponents was when the moderator posed a question about Barack Obama. Even then they discussed the difference in issues.

I'd like to see a written transcript of the debates., take the personalities out of the mix.

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