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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Republican Florida debate notes 


I'm watching Brian Williams on MSNBC moderate the Republican Florida primary presidential debate. This will be a partial live-blog, capturing my impulsive reactions while I listen with one ear. I like Brian Williams, and expect him to do a much better job than Wolfie did for the Dems the other night.

1. The opening questions are to Romney and McCain, and deal with the economic stimulus deal reached by the White House and the Congressional leadership today (about which I am not entirely up to speed). On the Giuliani follow, I loved this:

If America overtaxes, if America overspends, if America overregulates, if America oversues, then business and jobs and money go elsewhere, and we're doing all four of those things.... Just how much business are we running out of the United States because of the excesses of Sarbanes-Oxley.

Awesome stuff, to my ears at least. Rudy wins my heart on the opening exchange.

2. Huckabee wants to rebuild our "infrastructure." We've heard about this issue since the early 1980s. Yes, we always need to do it, and yes, it will always be done when governments have extra money around. It is not true that we have "done nothing about it," and why does any Republican want to give a huge pile of money to the criminals who do construction for the government anyway?

3. Mitt Romney's online research team is already pelting me with emails about McCain's misstatements. No wonder the other candidates hate him!

4. Williams asks Giuliani whether the raising of foreign capital by American banks is "fundamentally un-American." Rudy rejects the comparison to his famous rejection of Saudi money following 9/11, and says that we "are engaged in a global economy, and that when countries invest in the United States there is a mutuality of interest that is helpful." This ought to be an ideal opportunity to mention Bill Clinton's extremely lucrative and politically difficult ties to Dubai, but blows his chance.

5. McCain on why the Republicans are best to lead the economy notwithstanding public opinion polls to the contrary: "I'm going to give you some straight talk," and hammers on pork barrel politics between Bush and the Donks. Is "straight talk" still a valuable brand?

6. Huckabee remains the populist, and with all these economic questions is working full time to establish unimpeachable RINO bona fides.

7. Mrs. TigerHawk re Romney: "He looks constipated. He always has this pained expression. Well-cut suit, though." She's really a lot deeper than that makes her sound.

8. A questioner from the audience claims that our military is "broken," that our economy cannot sustain the war, and that every "expert" agrees with this. McCain answers directly, "you are wrong," says that he does not know any American general who agrees with that, and attacks Hillary for "waiving the white flag of surrender." He had fire in his eyes when he said that. Good for McCain.

Romney's emailers are continuing to hammer McCain.

9. Romney: "What an audacious and arrogant thing for the Democrats to say that they are responsible for the success of the surge..." Refers to "General Hillary Clinton" to a grumpy murmur around the room.

Russert challenges each candidate to defend the premise of the war, that it was worth it in blood and treasure.

McCain defends the premise of the war, and says that the problem was the mishandling of the war by Rumsfeld.

Giuliani says he was for the war when "six out of ten were for it, and I'm for it when six out of ten are against it... as president of the United States you've got to be able to read polls, not be pushed around by them." In stark contrast to Hillary, he adds. Good answer. Giuliani is the most articulate man up there tonight, as he often is.

10. Huckabee actually compared weapons of mass destruction to Easter eggs. "Just because you don't find them does not mean they are not there." Logically true, but Easter eggs?

Now for questions from candidate to candidate...

Romney asks a question to Rudy: "As we compete with China, how do we make sure that trade is on a level playing field? What kind of economic relations do we need with China?"

Rudy: "China is a great opportunity for America, and a great caution for America. Both." "I see 20 or 30 million people in China climbing out of poverty every year in China. That's 20 or 30 million more customers for America." Indeed it is!

Also calls for an increase in the size of the military to "undo the damage of Bill Clinton's peace dividend."

Good answers both.

11. McCain asks Huckabee about the "Fair Tax": "How do you answer the criticism that a flat-out sales tax would not cause lower income Americans to bear a bigger burden of the cost of government? How do you account for the resonance this is getting across the nation?"

What, is McCain tossing softballs? Huckabee launches into abolishing the IRS, and defends the Fair Tax on the basis of its "untax" components. "I want to put the IRS out of business."

Russert observes that 93% of Americans pay less than 15% in taxes now, so how will they benefit if we implement a huge federal sales tax? A better question might be this: Given that 93% of Americans pay less than 15% in taxes now, how can anybody in their right mind claim that the tax system is regressive?

12. Mrs. TigerHawk: "By any possible measure, Ron Paul's suit is the worst on the stage." Do not draw the wrong conclusions about Mrs. TigerHawk from these non-representative quotations.

13. Huckabee tortures Romney over gun control, and its intersection with the Second Amendment. I admit, I have too much wine in me to understand Romney's long-winded answer, except that he is against any "new legislation" to regulate assault weapons.

Giuliani also goes after Romney, asking a question about getting property insurance, and a national catastrophic fund, and whether Romney supports it, and swipes at McCain along the way. Romney does not want "say, people in Iowa" to support "people in Florida," but suggests that "high risk states" should band together to solve the problem, and then drifts into a discussion on health insurance. Giuliani hits him well, I think.

14. Russert asks about climate change and its impact on Florida, saying that greenhouse gases threaten Florida in a very real way, and asks Rudy Giuliani why he is opposed to mandatory caps. One answer is that he is honest -- no candidate is genuinely willing to endorse mandatory caps. Instead he lapses into a long riff about how the solution involves technology.

15. Stephen Green points out that I need a drink. I have had two glasses of wine, but they obviously have not done the job. Green on another point:
Once you start to think of Romney as a six-foot-tall erect penis, you just can’t see him any other way. I mean, watch the guy with that in mind and tell me I’m wrong. “We’re the party of fiscal responsibility. Bulging, thrusting fiscal responsibility.”

Sort of goes with my wife's suit comment. Sort of.

16. Had to hit the pause button for a few minutes to deal with a teenage daughter situation. Coming back soon.

17. I really cannot stand it when presidential candidates debate about climate change. It always seems like arguing about religion. Can we ask Huckabee and the Mormon a few theology questions instead?

18. I'm about 15 minutes behind. But that won't make this post any more interesting.

Brian Williams asks Giuliani why he has declined in the polls. Giuliani likens his prospects to the New York Giants, and claims he has "lulled them into a false sense of security."

Tonight, at least, Giuliani is the most likeable guy up there, even more so than Huckatool.

Brian Williams channels John McCain's mother, who said that the "Republican Party is going to have to hold its nose and nominate" her son. Is McCain a RINO? Not as long as Huckabee is up there.

Look, if, like me, you hate yard work, McCain's position on immigration is not all that offensive. Apart from that and his disregard of the Constitution on the wonkish issue of campaign finance reform (a general election winner, by the way), he's pretty darn conservative in an Arizona way. He's not my favorite guy up on that stage, but none of them are... Or something.

19. Russert asks Romney how is going to run against Hillary and Bill Clinton. Romney says he hopes he has the chance, because he does not think that the American people want to think about Bill rattling around the White House with not enough to do. Heh. Then he gets serious, and delivers his strongest answer of the night.

20. Russert asks Romney how much of his own money he is spending, and Romney blows the answer, both refusing to answer the question about his own contribution, and bragging on the amounts he has raised from others. He has moved from his strongest answer of the night to his most douchebaggiest. There will be some ugly soundbites in this segment.

21. Now Romney gets the religion question, and he answers its well, claiming that Americans will not impose a religious test at the polls. I dunno. Depends what Huckabee's friends tell them to do once they get there.

22. Ron Paul does serve a useful purpose, insofar as he perpetuates the idea that there is "no money there" for Social Security. Not strictly true, but a useful point to make.

23. Tivo pause: The TigerHawk Daughter just saw a friend blow chunks on video chat -- one of her friends, apparently, is coming down with someting. Yuck.

24. After a none-too-brief Huckabee interlude, Russert asks Romney whether he would, as Ronald Reagan did, "raise taxes to save Social Security." I'm too tired too comment on his serviceable yet trite answer.

25. Giuliani wants to "stop illegal immigration at the border." Stephen Green:
How many Miami residents got there via boat from Cuba? Smart play?

No.

Williams asks Giuliani to distinguish between people who flee Cuba, and people who come from other disgusting countries. Seems like a softball to Rudy in Florida, and he smashes it out.

Chuck Norris says McCain is too old? This is a question. Seriously? Huckabee distances himself with humor.

26. Sylvestor Stallone has endorsed McCain? That could tip it for me.

27. Rudy defends himself against an editorial in the New York Times (quoted by Brian Williams) that claimed he is cruel by pointing out that he has never done anything that the New York Times approved of.

28. Williams now reads from some other campaign's press release "faxed" to Williams mid-debate. Romney's troops have sent me at least seven emails since the debate began. Why are the other guys using faxes?

29. McCain goes apeshit when Williams asks him about his temper. OK, not really. But I still think that Hillary might needle him into transporting rage in the fall.

Toolish question of the night: Williams quoting some clown to Huck that his religion gives the clown a "queasy feeling." Huckabee, who always gets the god questions -- nobody has the stones to ask Romney about the gold tablets and such -- handled the question very eloquently. On the "feelings" questions, he cannot be beat.

30. Done. Stephen Green, who did not have to hit pause other than to refill his drink, has a recap post which is better than anything I might have written:
Giuliani needed to score big hits against both McCain and Romney to reestablish himself as the frontrunner in Florida. Instead, he squandered his opportunities trying to score points against Hillary Clinton. And that’s so November ‘07. So Rudy lost tonight.

Romney needed to be solid enough to keep McCain from sealing the deal tonight. He was solid, but was it enough? We won’t know until Super Duper Tuesday next month.

McCain needed to look and sound like a frontrunner. As a guy who would rather take a ball-peen hammer to his own knuckles than vote for McCain, I’m forced to admit that he did just that. For any other candidate, that would be a draw. But in McCain’s position, a draw is a win.

Also, Huckabee and Paul showed up, and neither one sprouted visible devil horns. That’s a win for their shrinking throngs of supporters — and a big Zero for each nutty candidate.

I thought that Giuliani did better than Mr. Green did, but probably not good enough to change the race. Indeed, he was remarkably mild against McCain and Romney, suggesting to me that he may be playing for VEEP -- anybody's VEEP, frankly. I also agree that McCain looked strong, and since I like him more than Cocktail Steve does I am in good shape. Romney was all over the place, generally strong on the answers, but unappealing on the vibes. His answer on the financing of his campaign was terribly unattractive, making him look like a real Wall Streeter for whom money is a proxy for points on a scoreboard. Not a good message for the average voter.

All in, though, it remains the case that I can live with any of the Mitt, John, or Rudy, and would happily vote for any of them.

21 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 24, 10:08:00 PM:

Rudy is a lot smarter than I remembered him being.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 24, 10:31:00 PM:

Russert tries to set up Romney with the "You are a big fan of Ronald Reagan...Will you do for social security what Ronald Reagan did in 1983?" It sounded like he left the question purposely blank to see if Romney understood what Reagan actually did.

In the brief moments that passed between Russert's question and Romney's response, you can hear someone whisper "he raised taxes"

It almost sounded like it came from Mitt's microphone. Is it possible someone's feeding him answers?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 24, 10:40:00 PM:

You and I must have watched a different debate. Your debate only had Rudy there, the one I saw had
more than just one person.
And Rudy didn't come off anywhere near as good as you saw it.
What is this about the MSM being biased?  

By Anonymous Dawnfire82, at Thu Jan 24, 10:58:00 PM:

"And Rudy didn't come off anywhere near as good as you saw it."

You know, it's perfectly ok for other people to have opinions different from your own. Really.

Aside, there's been speculation that Rudy has been preparing an ambush in Florida; holding off campaigning in the other states and betting that none of the others would come out clearly on top while simultaneously beating one another, allowing him to study and prepare for a Florida coup and ride the momentum onto Super Tuesday.

If his performance was as good as implied here (I didn't know there was a debate at all today and haven't watched) maybe he could pull it off.  

By Blogger PocketTens, at Thu Jan 24, 10:59:00 PM:

The press has been trying so hard to ignore Rudy but he could not be ignored tonight. I don't know if the man can win the nomination but I know our country would be better off if he were president. He is the man.  

By Anonymous 2-D, at Thu Jan 24, 11:10:00 PM:

Romney was asked the Elmira New York question, to which he responded by quoting the constitution - quite effectively I thought for a businessman - but Mormons still don't deserve to be President.

I don't see how McCain doesn't seal it at this point. Even if Romney wins in Florida (i.e., "jeezer country") because he's the poor man's non-baptist "jeezer", he's about to get trounced in the West and up North (save in Utah). And, as you point out, he looks like a large throbbing penis.

It's just not in the cards for the sex symbol.  

By Anonymous Zimbabwe, at Thu Jan 24, 11:12:00 PM:

Stephen Green is a pretend drunk asshole who could sit down and drink with a real man. Don't let his bogus shit snow you.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 24, 11:25:00 PM:

pockettens: I don't know if the man can win the nomination but I know our country would be better off if he were president.

I agree. If he can't get it done this time he would be positioned quite well to be McCain's VP and try again next time. His age wouldn't be an issue and broader exposure at the national level could only help.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Fri Jan 25, 12:39:00 AM:

Re Point #1 - is there at least a touch of irony that Rudy, who made his bones going after Wall Street insider traders (including having U.S. Marshalls cuff Goldman partner Bob Freeman and marching him on a perp walk), now vents against Sarbanes-Oxley? He was, though, quite right in going after Boesky, Levine, et al, and is right about needed modification in SOx.  

By Anonymous Tigerhawk Teenager, at Fri Jan 25, 09:32:00 AM:

Heheheh. Great post. Tell me to write my essay, as I'm sending this comment from English class. Fortunately, I have a few days to do it.

Anyway, did the Tigerhawk Daughter say which friend blew chunks on video chat?  

By Blogger Cargosquid, at Fri Jan 25, 10:01:00 AM:

All I can say,....

Fred!Fred! Come back Fred!!
Damn.

We are SO screwed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 25, 10:32:00 AM:

I thought America's mayor blew the Climate Change question, concerning Florida's 1200 miles of coastline. He might have responded by pointing out that Florida has the largest cattle population east of the Mississippi. Should those farmers be summarily put out of business? What financial package should we offer them? Is America ready to turn vegan to reduce greenhouse gases?

I absolutely hate McCain's answer on cap-and-trade. Does he really not understand that this is merely a tax on America, which will funnel money to tinpot dictators all over the world while simultaneously not reducing greenhouse gas emissions? McCain is clueless on the economy. Just clueless.  

By Anonymous Dawnfire82, at Fri Jan 25, 11:48:00 AM:

But if you're going to blow a question in a Republican debate, climate change is the one to do it with. Most Rightists just don't care that much about it, and many believe it to be a crock of shit in the first place.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 25, 12:07:00 PM:

True, and I suppose that group pretty much includes me. Just saying though, since it's an issue the rest of the country cares about and isn't thinking through from an economic perspective.

Anyway, my take after the debate is that Giuliani has to win (and no second place), or else he's running for homeland security director or Attorney General. McCain has to finish in the top two, or he's done. For him, this is everything since it's a closed primary and he needs to prove he can draw GOP votes in sufficient numbers to form a centrist coalition and win. Romney looks to me to be in the best position, at least after last night. He was best able to command the camera time and that's my informal measure of who was winning, and he seems to be leading by a small margin in the Florida polls.

I had thought super Tuesday would settle the GOP nomination, but now I think Florida probably does the job  

By Anonymous Ricangal, at Fri Jan 25, 03:39:00 PM:

Tigerhawk, you are a jacka--. Intentionally leaving Dr. Paul out of your third rate "notes", except to say he wore the worst suit of clothes and to call him nutty, says a heck of a lot more about you than about him. Now I will research him further. He wants to work to make life easier for EVERYBODY, you waste of vitual space.  

By Anonymous Dave, at Fri Jan 25, 08:36:00 PM:

Our military is broke right now. Can we blow people up. Yes. Is the military in good shape. No.

Romney's thoughts about expanding the 1.6 million armed forces by 100,000 additional members was silly. Adding that few members will not fix the inside problems.

McCain has to shout for the military.

When one candidate gets approximately 1/3 of the time allotted for the debate and another gets only a small portion, the debate is not a well run debate.

BTW, Bill got votes from women just because he looked good -- not because they thought he could really do anything for our country.

I do support Paul because he has a long history of doing what he says he would do. Ron Paul sounds strange to most Americans today because they don't have a clue about our Constitution.

Do you remeber reading the Federalist Papers in high school? Why didn't we read the Anti-Federalist Papers also. If we had read both sides of the Constitutional process, we would not think Ron Paul strange at all.

Thanks for your thoughts Tiger.  

By Anonymous Dawnfire82, at Fri Jan 25, 10:23:00 PM:

"Our military is broke right now."

"BTW, Bill got votes from women just because he looked good -- not because they thought he could really do anything for our country."

"Ron Paul sounds strange to most Americans today because they don't have a clue about our Constitution."

You're right, TH. You do have high quality readers. These folks know *everything.*  

By Anonymous Dave, at Fri Jan 25, 10:58:00 PM:

Tiger, sorry for my comments here.

Dawnfire82, I just met a Marine's wife at LAX. Her husband has been in for 6 years and has been in Iraq for 3 of those years. That is not a normal rotation cycle for any military service in any country.

Did 6 ALCM missiles get improperly transported from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB because we have a top notch military? No, it was because the commanders can't and won't do their jobs. Those commanders were aided by men at all levels who didn't do their jobs. This was not just a simple mistake. It was gross poor negligence.

I still contract for the military and see lots of things that the talking heads won't tell you. Our military is still better than anyone else. But it is broke.

Please post some reasonable debate rather than just making fun of posts. Poll after poll showed that American women voted for Bill only because of his looks.

Most Americans don't realize that our Federal government has overstepped its bounds and can not distinguish between those rights and powers granted by the Constitution and those abused by the Federal government.

For the record, ricangal was crude and rude, but at least went to the point rather than just making noise.  

By Anonymous Dawnfire82, at Sat Jan 26, 04:14:00 PM:

I 'just made noise' because I get tired of repeating myself on these topics. Let's get one thing out of the way.

I am a soldier in the Army. Military Intelligence, my entire career. Your intimations of higher knowledge that the talking heads won't tell me may seem mysterious and cool to civilians, but not to me.

"That is not a normal rotation cycle for any military service in any country."

First of all, you can't convince me that you're familiar with every nation's military practices. Because if you were, you'd know that in some parts of the world (Sudan, for instance, and Russia for much of its history) conscription of a soldier is regarded by the family as a death sentence, because chances are high that they'll never see the young man again. Some people actually hold wakes.

Secondly, I think you should read a little more history. Say, on the World Wars, or the Civil War, or the Napoleonics. Soldiers serve as necessity requires, sometimes for many years at a stretch. And ours are all volunteers; no conscriptions.

Thirdly, that's actually a lighter deployment schedule than most Army brigades, who spend about 18 months abroad for 12 at home. The Marines need to toughen up.

Additionally, re-enlistments are at all time highs. The fourth brigade of the 25th ID just reported a 37% re-enlistment rate. Hardly a sign of a broken military.

I've been listening to this mantra for years now of people whining about how our military is so degraded and sad and broken and sort of just limping along. Sometimes we have to make do with old equipment, but that was a much bigger problem in 03 than it is now. Some high priority units actually have overabundances of stuff, now.

As for the evil government overstepping its boundaries, we have not even begun to approach the levels of control over the civilian populace that were exercised during the World Wars and the Civil War. All of which went away after the end of hostilities.

But if you're so convinced that certain practices and policies are illegal, you are perfectly welcome to serve up court papers and challenge them. (so could Ron Paul, for that matter) And if you win, you'll apparently be a hero. Get crackin'.

BTW, I did a search looking for polls indicating that women voted for Bill because they thought he was cute; no dice. Link, perhaps?

And finally, Ron Paul sounds strange to most American because he just *sounds strange.* For instance:

"In recent decades our policies have been driven by neo-conservative empire radicalism, profiteering in the military industrial complex, misplaced do-good internationalism, mercantilistic notions regarding the need to control natural resources, and blind loyalty to various governments in the Middle East." - Ron Paul, Feb 15, 2007

So evil, greedy conspirators working on behalf of foreign powers have been running the country for the last several decades. Right. That sounds like a conspiracy theorist who passed Government 301. No amount of re-reading the Constitution is going to make me take him seriously. And blaming my rejection of him as a candidate on my ignorance is so much poppycock.

So, was this a better contribution to debate?  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Jan 26, 05:55:00 PM:

"Now I will research him further."

Do you expect anyone to take this seriously? Obviously you are already a committed Paul supporter.

"He wants to work to make life easier for EVERYBODY"

What, exactly, is the plan that makes life easier for "EVERYBODY" that conforms to libertarian principles???  

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