August 6, 2007

Romney Excels in GOP Debate

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ABC’s Republican debate may have not received the massive advertising and promotion of the YouTube debate, but it worked surprisingly well, with a mix of some video and email questions from average people with statements and videos of the candidates themselves as well as traditional journalistic questions. Moderator George Stephanopoulos did a superb job of including all the candidates into the debate, and generating some debate between candidates and keeping them on track. The only major criticism I have is that the debate did not cover immigration at all, but at least there were no questions from a snowman. With that said, I’ll give my top three performers: first Mitt Romney, then Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul

1. Romney
Romney displayed a stellar performance in this debate. Not only did he show a strong understanding of the issues, citing a variety of sources from Tony Blair to the Brookings Institution, seamlessly explaining the nuances of complicated issues, but he also maintained an incredible level of decorum and civility in the debate, both speaking and acting like the next President. Romney traditionally has excelled in debates, but this time he additionally expanded on many of his views from prior debates.

From the start, Romney, who did not always hold the staunch pro-life view he has now, faced a rocky challenge against Brownback, who accused him of supporting abortion as late as 2005. After bringing in many examples disproving this accusation, including a 2004 op-ed piece and an award he recently received for his pro-life views, Romney proceeded to expose Brownback’s ruthlessly negative strategy. Romney firmly declared his pro-life stance, calling out Brownback for misrepresenting his views rather than letting him explain his own views. He then blasted Brownback for acting “holier-than-thou” because he has been pro-life longer. And then to cap it off, given a chance to rip into Giuliani for being supposedly pro-gay and pro-choice, he stuck by his word and said he would let Giuliani explain himself rather than attacking Giuliani like Brownback attacked him. Romney also positively portrayed his conversion to the pro-life side. Although he previously supported the law of the land, which took a pro-choice stance, Romney explained he realized his mistake the first time a substantial bill on life issues came to his desk as governor, not the first time it seemed politically viable to make a switch.

Furthermore, he constructed a great philosophy on foreign policy. After first taking out Obama for pledging to meet with enemies like Chavez and Ahmadinejad while threatening to unilaterally bomb a U.S. ally like Musharraf in Pakistan, Romney then developed a much more coherent view. While he pledged to keep the military strong and keep all options on the table with Pakistan (while not advertising the more extreme ones like Obama does), Romney also focused on spreading positive values around the world, reaching out to moderate Muslims and moderate governments such as Pakistan and Lebanon, empowering them to defeat the terrorists. This provided a good contrast not only to Obama’s version of foreign policy but also to Tancredo’s ludicrous suggestion that we threaten to bomb Mecca to deter future terrorist attacks.

Romney also displayed some intriguing philosophies. On the issue of taxes, he explained how a strong economy motivated by low taxes can provide more revenue than high taxes on a stagnant economy. On healthcare, he used his universal healthcare plan passed in Massachusetts to demonstrate how the free market and personal responsibility can work instead of more taxes and big government. And of course, he ended the debate with his famous three-legged stool (I hear he actually has one now which he uses as a prop in stump speeches) of a strong military, strong economy, and a strong family. In addition to displaying depth and knowledge on narrow, specific issues, Romney also promotes broad and abstract philosophies, which fit all of his specific views together into the big picture.

2. Giuliani
Coming in at a close second, Giuliani performed strongly on terrorism but also dealt well with issues that did not relate to 9/11. Starting with terrorism and Iraq, he had a good jab at Democrats for not saying the words “Islamic terrorists” in 4 debates and furthermore pointed to an op-ed piece in the New York Times saying that we might win in Iraq (followed by a clever joke on how he double-checked to make sure it was the New York Times). This really amplified his already strong position as the 9/11 candidate.

Giuliani has always run into some trouble on the issue of abortion, but this was the first time he did a good job of explaining his sometimes-confusing views of abortion. Giuliani ultimately stated that he personally opposed abortion and would work to reduce abortions and increase adoptions. At the same time, he portrayed his refusal to stop abortion not as a flip-flop, but as part of a broader critique of the government overstepping its bounds whether it was on taxes, socialized healthcare, or abortion.

Also, Giuliani gave a phenomenal answer on a question of higher taxes. Faced with the prospect of a higher gasoline tax to fund infrastructure improvements on items like bridges, Giuliani turned the question on its head, arguing against the liberal premise of generating money with more taxes. He explained how lowering taxes as the mayor of New York City actually brought in more revenue, and then he furthermore cited how the last increase in the capital gains tax actually cost America $45 billion. He also had a good criticism of how the Democrats’ proposed extension of children’s health insurance would go beyond insuring the uninsured, forcing people off of private healthcare into a big government system. In addition to his natural strength on terrorism, Giuliani has started to develop a strong philosophy against taxes and big government while mitigating his disadvantage on social issues, making him a formidable candidate.

3. Paul
Alright, so John McCain’s campaign has taken a nosedive recently, and his debate performance reflects that, allowing Ron Paul to take the third spot. Ron Paul’s speaking time focused mostly on foreign policy, an area where he displays a much stronger performance. He did an excellent job of putting Iraq in perspective compared to other wars such as Vietnam. He made an excellent comparison of McCain’s warning against the consequences of failure in Iraq to the now-disproven Domino Theory on how the fall of Vietnam would have spread communism around the globe. Building on this with another good analogy, Paul wondered how we avoided war with Russia with their nuclear arsenal but could not do the same with Iraq. Even if people disagree with the non-interventionism advocated by Paul, Paul does the best job of just about anybody explaining it.

Furthermore, he had some good principles he stood by. He had a good quote about how we should spread American values without force. He supplemented this with a promise for a more open and transparent government that forcefully advocates liberty and the Constitution. Even if Ron Paul won and became the worst President in the history of the United States, he still would leave the Oval Office with the high level of honor and dignity that he has always displayed.

Mike Wacker is a blogger and an Assistant Web Editor at The Sun. He can be contacted at mwacker@cornellsun.com.

  • Ben Pratt

    Interesting that you praise Romney for “calling out Brownback for misrepresenting his views”, and then in the very next paragraph you participate in that same strategy twice by misrepresenting Obama’s views.

    1. “threatening to unilaterally bomb a U.S. ally like Musharraf in Pakistan”
    Wow, not only do you direct the quote toward Pakistan, instead of the actual target of Al-Qaida, but you personify it by naming Musharraf directly. Really, so Obama advocates bombing Musharraf? Nice indirection. The truth is Obama advocated attacking Al-Qaida strongholds in the mountainous regions on the Pak/Afgan border, a region that neither Pakistan nor Afganistan has any control over, and is the stronghold of Al-Qaida. This same strategy is currently being revisited by the current administration, and should have been the focus of our military from the start.

    2. “pledging to meet with enemies like Chavez and Ahmadinejad”
    Again, a misrepresentation. Obama actually stated he would meet “without preconditions”. In the world of diplomacy, preconditions are actions required before a result. For example, ‘we’ll meet once you stop enriching uranium’. Of course, Obama’s foreign policy would use standard diplomatic methods. The distiction is that he does not advocate the restriction of dialog between countries as a means of ‘punishment’ or that by not having a dialog, it will somehow force our enemies into complience; as is the belief of this current administration.

  • Alex L Cameron

    Quote* “Moderator George Stephanopoulos did a superb job of including all the candidates into the debate”

    I really have to disagree with this. Here are the figures I found…

    DEBATE TALKING TIMES

    Romney 11:36 (18.64%)
    Ghouliani 9:52
    McCain 7:16
    T.Thompson 6:25
    Huckabee 6:18
    Hunter 6:06
    Brownback 5:44
    Tancredo 4:46
    Ron Paul 4:12 (252 seconds) (6.75 %)

    Dr. Paul was skipped on questions regarding immigration and healthcare. I realize he is low in the polls, but how is anyone gain any momentum when they are not given an opportunity to express views on these important subjects?

  • Thank you for what I consider to be a balanced article on the debate yesterday. I must add that it seemed like the Mitt Romney show from the beginning. The introductions started with a scorecard, introducing the candidates in the order of their current polling numbers.

    The debate opened with a chance for Romney to respond to the attacks made against his stand on abortion this past week in Iowa. I thought it very interesting that they left his microphone on as others commented, yet the other microphones were cut off when he was speaking. He was allowed to talk on microphone and camera as others, including Congressman Paul spoke, yet the same discourteous tactic was not afforded the others.

    I found it very curious that the most time given to candidates besides the former and current front-runners was to Tommy Thompson who had twice as many questions posed to him as Ron Paul for example, yet Tommy Thompson is at the bottom of the current polls.

    If McCain is now 4th to Ron Paul, why did he still receive three times as much time as Congressman Paul?

    I found it disturbing that the only physician running for President has never been given a chance to discuss healthcare in any debate. I also find it disturbing that the only candidate that has been ignored on Tax issues has been Ron Paul. He has a reputation as the most fiscally responsible to the tax-payers in Congress, yet he has yet to field a question on the subject.

    I’m glad you see him as at least 3rd place, but when the deck is not stacked against him in a debate format, he is truly gifted at honoring the commitment that he made to uphold the Constitution.

    We need Ron Paul to be our next President. He is the only one I have seen who truly represents the American Ideal and the American Citizens.

  • JD

    “I would call pol pot and one million dead cambodians a pretty damn big domino.”

    SO you feel we should have stayed in Viet Nam?

    There are folks killed all over the world today, should we be policemen of the world? Who will decide which countries we help and which ones we don’t?

    “I don’t recall the domino theory advocates predicting world-wide spread of communism through defeat in Viet Nam”

    As a Viet Nam Vet, I sure do.

    “I believe we’re still paying the price for our defeat in Viet Nam, and we will for many years to come.”

    SO once again, should we have fought the Viet Nam War?

    Ron Paul is right about Viet Nam and he has been rightr and consistent on Iraq and the war on terror.

    Those that don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.

    Ron Paul in 08!

  • I am going to vote for Ron Paul – whether or not he is on the republican ticket – i will write it in if need be.

    http://www.ronpaul2008.com

    He can save America – He speaks the truth – He has integrity

  • fromTexas

    Ever notice how most of the anti-Romney comments consist of petty name-calling (idiot, liar, neo-con poster boy, the new Slick Willie)? To me, such comments say more about the commenter than about Romney, who has a long and proven track record attesting to his intelligence, demeanor and high moral values.

    In Romney, it is also refreshing to see a candidate with a broad knowledge and grasp of international affairs who also has the business background to streamline the big business of the federal government. The only trouble, of course, is getting Congress to actually be productive and help with the streamlining process. Here’s where I like Ron Paul — we need 300 more like him in the house and senate.

  • Your analysis is somewhat accurate. In good conscience, I can only vote for a conservative. So Romney and Giuliani are out of the question. I thought Tancredo and Huckabee were fairly strong on domestic issues. But I’m supporting Ron Paul.

  • tom davis

    Yo, its the Constitution, stupid.
    With Rudy and Romney, you will get EXACTLY THE SAME government that you have had for the past 50 years:
    OVERSPENDING
    OVER-REACHING
    OVERBEARING

    How about a simple return to Constitutional, limited government.
    Hanity says he wants it, but smears Paul and supports a pro-death, pro-gay, pro-gungrabbing pol like Guliani.
    Rush says he wants it but smears Paul day in-day out.
    Beck says he wants it but smears Paul as well.

    Yo, its the Constitution, stupid, and only Ron Paul gets it.

  • Anonymous

    Uh Oh, Looks like Mike has rung the bell and Ron Paul’s dogs are salivating.

  • Alexia

    to share the Conservative stage. Nobody else noticed that he talked about Pakistan building a democracy?

    Uh Mitt, they’re a military dictatorship.

  • 20cc0

    From What I can tell, Congressman Paul is the strongest politician of the bunch. I cant understand how Romney could even be called a front-runner…
    Look at all the time he spends trying to defend his reversals of position.

    Ron Paul has integrity. He votes from his understanding of the Constition, not from a religious point of view, and not from what is most popular according to the polls.

    I won’t even mention Giuliani, he’s a Joke.

    Ron Paul has the internet support. He has grassroots supporters on the ground. The people who care about him care enough to ACT!!!

    And one thing you can bet on is to see more Ron Paul supporters in your town.

    This campaign is only getting started.

    Ron Paul will be elected in ’08.

  • Anonymous

    The editor did a fantastic and accurate job. Great job at not looking to the pundits to write your reviews for you.

  • Skipper1946

    How about Mao and the 40-60 million dead Chinese? Since China is our lender of last resort all of those continuing casualties of communism don’t seem to matter that much–certainly to Geo. HW Bush and the rest of his spawn.

    With your approach to repressed peoples around the world, we could saddle up 3-4 million troops (when you employ tactical nukes you don’t need that many dog faces) and really save some Communists. But of course we’d have to find an investor to take down the billions in sub-prime mortgages the Chinese have swallowed.

    Oh well, we need look only for those 3rd world countries where we can kick butt in the name of democracy. That’s the plan. To hell with dominos, I’d rather have a lay-up.

  • Anonymous

    WITH ALL DUE RESPECT FOR MR. WACKER (WACKED OUT)WHO EVIDENTLY WAS WATCHING ANOTHER DEBATE, RON PAUL WAS THE TRUE WINNER. MR. ROMNEY RAN A CLOSE SECONED AS THE ULTIMATE FLIP-FLOPER. IF THE FIRST PRIMARY WAS HELD IN MASSACHUSETTS, MR. ROMNEY WITH COME OUT DEAD LAST BEHIND A SPATULA. THIS MAN SPENT MORE TIME RUNNING AROUND THE COUNNTRY IN QUEST OF NATIONAL AMBITIONS THAN HE DID SPENDING TIME IN MASSACHUSETTS, AS GOVERNOR DURING HIS ONE TERM IN OFFICE. HE KNEW FULL WELL THE DEMOCRATS RAN THE SHOW, AND DID ABLULUTLY NOTHING TO RING DOWN THE CURTAIN.

  • Anonymous

    While I’d give credit for Romney’s speaking ability and presence, no one who believes 9/11 as a just rationale for the war in Iraq deserves to be ranked number one in anything.

    It was easy to miss but when Paul spoke about his position on ending the Iraq War, Romney actually interrupted him and suggested that 9/11 was reason enough to invade Iraq! It was a real shame that Mitt didn’t have to explain that position. I’d love to hear Romney prove his point given the facts that there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq and that Hussein had no links with Al Qaeda.

  • Tiffany Sherwood

    FROM ABC’s WEBSITE:
    ____________________________________

    Now that the debate’s over, it’s time to consider the winners and losers.

    Who do you think won the Republican debate?

    Ron Paul 34,599
    Mitt Romney 4,294
    Nobody won. I’m voting Democratic. 3,223
    Rudy Giuliani 3,118
    Nobody. I’m waiting for Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich to enter the race. 2,805
    Mike Huckabee 2,587
    Sam Brownback 1,037
    Tommy Thompson 751
    Tom Tancredo 732
    John McCain 710
    Duncan Hunter 410
    Total Vote: 54,266

  • Anonymous

    Not sure if anyone else caught that but I had to actually step away from the debate.

    Basically Rudy McRomney all agreed that if you are not going to vote for who they want you to vote for than you really shouldn’t be allowed to vote. And they had the nerve to call it Democracy? Does that mean we shouldn’t get to vote?

    God help us!!

    We’re gonna get the 1-2 punch of Bush’s war to pay for then the liberals are going to take control and strap us with a bunch of entitlements for illegals and indigents. Oh..and we passed 9 trillion dollars in debt!!! NEW RECORD!

    There is truly a war on the middle class.

  • Bobby Hayward

    How about cutting taxes stay out of personal bussiness and get back to work for american workers and stop this nonsence on this illegal immergrants rights to health benifits & start working for our rights as taxpaying american.you politician want to push this then you should pick up the bill! oh & one more thing americans are tired of this do nothing about the borders! Pull you heads out of your ?@#$%. Do something for americans. This goes for all politicians whether you right or left. We feel the burden of all you idiotic laws.

  • An East Coast elitist is gathering a lot of media attention in his bid for the Republican nomination. Gov. Romney is also leading the pack of moderate Republican contenders along with the elitist. And then they are soundly booed off the stage before small government and anti-war champion Barry Goldwater kicks their butt and gets the nomination. There’s a little historical comparison piece you journalists can work on when Dr. Paul starts winning primaries.

    p.s. Imagine how many Americans would be alive today if the pubic was’t suckered by LBJ’s nuke campaign. I know many Amvets posts would be named differently because their namesakes wouldn’t have been killed in the late sixties and early seventies. I support the Paul/Goldwater Jr. ticket.

  • Anonymous

    The troops support Ron Paul, the vets support Ron Paul, only the talking head, armchair generals, who are more transfixed on idealogy than reality, don’t. Please support Ron Paul.

  • DC Wornock

    Mike Wacker is either too stupid to see how the debate was rigged to favor Romney with the questions, the disapportionment amount of time given Romney, and leaving his mic on all the time while the mics of others were turned off, or else he is in on the conspiracy. Even so, honest people, taking in consideration the amount time given the candidates would declare Ron Paul the winner.

    In a fair debate, Romney would be demolished by Ron Paul.

  • Deanna

    Yes, anonymous, I noticed. Romney, Giuliani, and McCain all displayed a profound lack of political understanding.

    I hope what they meant to say was that the vote is not the foundation of liberty. Liberty must exist before elections can have much meaning. For instance, if people are afraid to exercise free speech, the exchange of political ideas will not take place. If people are being shot for voicing their opinion, they are probably not going to speak freely. So the rule of law is very important to freedom of speech, and freedom of speech is important to a free election.

    BUT they claimed the vote is not essential to democracy. The vote IS democracy. All three candidates displayed a profound lack of political knowledge–and they want to be President. Oh my.

    It does raise the question, if they don’t believe the vote is necessary to democracy, how committed are they to honor OUR right to vote?

  • Mark D

    To those of you who keep repeating that Ron Paul won this and Ron Paul won that…YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE! No one in their right minds believes for a second that he has won anything by any other means than his supporters spamming online polls. Grow up, will ya?!