Well, the debate is over, but the post game is just getting started. From what I say in the post-debate chat, Romney has come out on top, with McCain not doing so well. Romney is also leading in both my poll and the ROTR poll. I may be a bit biased, but I do believe that Romney did very well ,possibly well enough to make this a turning point in the polls.
The big question is, did the candidates do what they needed to? For this, I want to take a look back at my pre-debate rundown:
Giuliani will want to focus on all things defense. Terrorism, Security, Iran, all of these will play to Giuliani’s favor. He will want to avoid social issues or anything to do with his messy personal life. These issues will do him no favors and could hurt him among Evangelical Christians.
Giuliani did alright, but he could not avoid the social issues. He did himself no favors among the Conservative Evangelical Christians.
If McCain wants to play to Conservatives, my best advise to focus on spending. McCain is a strong anti-pork Republican. Like Giuliani, avoid personal issues. McCain also needs to dodge his past opposition to the Bush tax cuts and any thing related to his age. As for the war, McCain cannot avoid the issue, so the best advise I can give is: TREAD CAREFULLY. He needs to stick to a simple position, say he wants victory, and that Iraqis must do their part.
While he did do exactly what I said he needed to, I do not believe this debate is going to help his campaign. He lacked the energy and vigor he needed to prove he was up to the job.
Romney is an interesting case. Pretty much all of his current positions are Conservative, so his aim should be to cover all basis and display his Conservative positions. He also needs to combat any remaining scepticism regarding past changes in positions on social issues. Romney also should take time to tout his experience as a reformer and budget cutter. There is very little Romney should avoid, but I will say he should also say away from personal matter, particularly religion, and even his family. These are not so much liabilities as they are distractions – things that take time away from the discussions on issues.
As I said, Romney is an interesting case. While he did not focus enough on experience, I do believe he had a very good day. He tackled the Social Issues well, and managed to prove himself to be strong on defense.
Rudy Giuliani – Giuliani, as I have said before, needs to give people a reason to vote for him. The 9/11 factor will only carry him so far. He has to give people a reason to choose him over the more Conservative Romney and McCain. If he can’t do that, he is in trouble.
Sorry, he failed to do this. He brought up the economy of New York, but did not pursue it far enough or hard enough. Compared to the economic arguments made by other candidates, Giuliani seems to have limited experience in this area.
John McCain – McCain has to try to stop his bleeding support level. He needs to prove that he is a strong Conservative, and that his age will not effect a McCain Presidency.
Nope, his performance was not strong enough to really move people. He lack energy, which could cause people to bring up his age even further.
Mitt Romney– Mitt’s biggest challenge is going to be proving that he can play ball with the better known McCain and Giuliani. He also has to strike hard at criticism about his past positions. Other than that, just don’t do anything stupid. Romney has strong positions, and is comfortable in debates and in public. As long as he sticks to character, he can win.
Romney, I will say again, did well. He stuck to character, refused to run from his past changes on social issues, made no major mistakes. He seemed at home and relaxed.
As for the other candidates, Hunter did well, although he needs to face the camera more. Brownback did reasonably well, although he has staked his campaign to appealing to Evangelicals. Tancredo seemed nervous, and Paul is an isolationist, nothing more to be said.
Once again, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section. I will have more on debate #2 (And accompanying activity on my blog) sometime tomorrow.