And the Winner Is . . .

David Ferguson, Human Events, May 4, 2007

Here is how I scored the debate with my objective analysis:

Romney: B+; Unfortunately, Romney was too lofty. He had a real opportunity to address the tangibles of a pending Presidency, but failed to do so. He preemptively acknowledged his “flip-flops,” although his excuse was very poor. {snip}

Brownback: C+ to B-; He is an intelligent, nice, likable man who simply had no business on that stage. He had the opportunity to point out differences in opinion, set himself apart, and indirectly attack other candidates with his forte, social issues, but did not. {snip}

Gilmore: A ; Same yesterday, same today, and same tomorrow. Outstanding delivery by the former Governor from V’ginia. Despite obvious bias from Chris Matthews, producers, and cameramen he was still able to give knowledgeable, well-thought, how-to, point by point responses for the given questions and scenarios. {snip}

Hunter: A; A great performance from the California Congressman. He is the member of Congress who has the greatest chance of winning the election. Hunter has a friendly demeanor and carries himself with a curious appeal. With direct answers and informed responses, he impressed on my mind Presidential demeanor. {snip}

Huckabee: B; Carried himself very well. He was not given as much time as maybe the other governors, but I liked what he had to say and how he said it, for the most part. {snip}

[Tommy] Thompson: C-; Governor Thompson had no real business being on the stage. He is obviously an intelligent diplomat who would be great for the United States in a role that deals with domestic policy. {snip}

McCain: A-; Honest, direct, commanding and forceful. I could tell John McCain was in the race to win. This stage presence overcame his aged exterior. He again seemed as if he were a maverick. But, he was overly gregarious when he spoke of siding with the Democrats. {snip}

Paul: A; Presented himself as a champion of freedom. He felt no obligation to prove himself, and therefore did not invoke the memory of Reagan. He had his own ideas, and used his proven record to validate those ideas. {snip}

Giuliani: B-; This candidate had the most to prove, and just did not do it. The Mayor has apparently been taking dancing lessons, rather than debating lessons. I was disappointed because I hoped to see a man who could command the stage and tell America that he is again rising to the occasion of service to his country. {snip}

Tancredo: D; I probably agree with Congressman Tancredo on the overwhelming majority of the issues, but he had no business being on the stage last night. He is a champion of immigration reform, and I really had great expectations from this typically lively debater. He was the dark horse who could have made a difference and a run for the Presidency, unlike former Senator Gravel of the Democratic Party. Congressman Tancredo was uncomfortably nervous and he stammered and stuttered through the debate giving unintelligible answers. He did not appear to understand the format or the premise of the event until the majority of the debate had passed. I do not know if that is his fault, or the fault of those who attempted to prepare him. I do not expect to see Congressman Tancredo in the next debate

In my personal opinion, despite the media bias, time constraints, rigorous debate format and presentation, I declare Governor Jim Gilmore the winner of the first Republican Primary Presidential Debate.


{snip}

Giuliani: “OK” doesn’t sum up his performance—it was his response to Chris Matthews’ question if it would be a good day if Roe v. Wade were overturned. {snip}

McCain: {snip} He was confident on the issue of the war, but he also didn’t allow himself to look shaky on some social issues that he hasn’t enjoyed talking about in the past. Overall, McCain showed that experience with debate formats like last night’s was an advantage.

Romney: The guy looks great on TV, doesn’t he? He was articulate, and gave a good defense of his pro-life conversion (pointing out that plenty of other famous Republicans had a change of heart as well). {snip}

Brownback: His performance didn’t surprise us a bit: He was the strongest social conservative in the room. But what kind of general-election candidate is he? And if the goal was to separate himself from the rest of the second-tier candidates, he wasn’t successful. If anything, one could argue a few other second-tiers did a better job of sticking out than Brownback.

Huckabee: He was the calm, cool, and disarming guy we’ve seen for the past couple of years. Which raises the question: Why didn’t he try harder—a year or two ago—to build an infrastructure to try to win the nomination?

Gilmore: Much like Dodd a week ago, he didn’t really own a moment. But he also showed that he won’t be a shrinking violet in these group sessions.

Hunter: Anyone else surprised by Hunter’s stronger-than-expected performance? He seemed to match McCain on answering the Iraq/Iran questions with authority. And, perhaps more importantly for his campaign, he stood out immigration more so than the candidate who was supposed to be the anti-immigration candidate: Tom Tancredo.

[Tommy] Thompson: No candidate looked more uncomfortable last night than Thompson, although he certainly got the point across about how many vetoes he issued as governor of Wisconsin. {snip}

Tancredo: Perhaps the biggest sign of how cordial last night’s debate was Tancredo’s tone on immigration. Don’t get us wrong, he’s still against it—but he didn’t raise his voice or really engage his rivals. When re-watching the debate, Tancredo’s folks better figure out how to not let Duncan Hunter steal his immigration thunder.

Paul: He was no Gravel (thankfully). Some of his responses—especially on Iraq—demonstrated why the GOP is no longer a party of libertarians.

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