Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GOP Economic Debate Running Diary

So I am shamelessly stealing from Bill Simmons his "running diary" style of writing to cover an event. Basically I am going to watch the GOP debate and jot down notes as it moves along. They may be insightful, they may be humorous, they may be a complete waste of time... nobody knows! Also, at the end of this ginormous post is my short first impressions report card for the debate.

0:00 We are here in Michigan, chatting economics... I will make two predictions up front, before this is over every candidate will have promised me lower taxes, and will somehow make a reference to cars/auto-industry/etc.

0:01 Fred Thompson makes his first debate appearance! And he references the auto industry "here in michigan"... one down, 9 to go. So far he doesn't look horrible, but hardly "Presidential."

0:03 Mitt Romney makes his auto-industry reference... these guys are just knocking my prediction out of the park, so far 2 for 2 on their FIRST chance to talk throw it out there. Oh, and he offered me lower taxes as well (shocking). Mitt definitely speaks with more command and passion than Thompson, you would think he was an actor not Fred Thompson.

0:05 Guiliani is up... and the first thing he does is reference Hilary, not sure if that is a great tactical move of a guy trying to appear "more conservative." He offers me lower taxes as well (but so far no reference to the auto industry, instead he throws out a Yankee losing reference). "Joe Torre is the best manager in the history of the Yankees in the modern era"... glad that got said during a debate on economics.

0:08 Ron Paul make his first sighting. And he starts off talking about his "hidden tax" which is inflation and the deficit spending. He also throws out a foreign policy reference (his strong suit, we will see how he holds up on this economic debate). He gets some scattered applause, he is passionate.

0:09 McCain's first appearance. He throws out a reference to Michigan (Ron Paul and Guiliani so far are the only ones to miss this one). McCain appeals to fixing medicare and medicaid. Listen McCain, your 80 years old, you don't need to court the old vote... McCain's answer to the question "is the tax code fair" is "Yes it's fair, and we need to reform it tomorrow"... Wait??? That, uhm... wow. I think he is suffering from alzheimers.

0:11 Huckabee speaks. He wants to get rid of the IRS and go to a sales tax. I actually support this, drug dealers, pimps, and every other criminal doesn't pay income taxes, but you and I do. Go to a sales tax and wham, everyone pays taxes now.

0:16 Request for no applause... Thats gonna last maybe 10 minutes?

0:17 Senator Brownback, another guy wasting space on the stage. But in a shocking move, the first thing he says is "No new taxes." Shocking. And instead of aboloshing the IRS, he wants to add in an "optional flat tax." So basically the tax code is so messed up, lets keep that but then add in an optional flat tax, so those people that have more money to know how to manipulate the tax code can use that, but the poor suffer under a "simplified" tax code that they can't manipulate. Seriously, worst answer yet.

0:20 Every time Guiliani speaks I think of Doby the house Elf. Romney says "lets not just say we are going to cut taxes, lets cut spending" and absolute destroys Guiliani. Rudy is trying to paint himself as a hard line conservative, to his credit economics will help him there more than any social issues. Romney and Guiliani are now bantering back and forth about line item veto's, ultimately does anyone in America really care about this? I think the bigger picture here is Romney is challenging Rudy trying to turn this into a 2 horse race and just ignore Paul, McCain and Thompson and paint it as him vs Guiliani. Not a bad political move.

0:23 Applause (a reference to "beating a Clinton")... wow we lasted a whole 7 minutes. Why do they even bother asking, it never works.

0:25 Fred Thompson wants to give tax breaks to corporations... so wait we want to hand out MORE Corporate Welfare. Not sure thats a popular stance to take.

0:29 Mitt Romney is painting himself as a "regular" guy by stating everyone who is on stage is a politician except himself, he is a businessman. Granted he is a rich privledged boy, but in the first 30 minutes so far, he has come across as the most presidential and really has done the best so far.

0:31 Doby the house elf is continuing to rail on the "democrats" with just random nonsense about how evil the "democrats" are. I think he is just trying to convince everyone he is really a hard line conservative. I know thats his biggest issue but so far he is just sounding "angry" not "conservatice."

0:35 Question: Should a Dubai company be able to own 20% of Nasdaq?
Paul: If there is no conflict with national security, yes.

Huckabee: It's a free trade issue, we need to have more regulation on trade! (He doesn't really answer the question, just rails against China some more, that seems to be his move tonight, just attack Chinese free trade deals and monetary manipulation).

McCain: Yes of course, pass required security checks of course but yes. Then goes on to say that seperatist/isolationist attitude towards free trade is dangerous. But he doesn't do a very good job of explaining his point.

Romney: Of course we allow them. But he wants more regulation on free trade as well, he only makes free trade deals that are profitable for America.

Thompson: Yes, the answer is yes. It all depends on national security issues.

Hunter: No, because I don't trust em. (He is trying to position himself as strong on national security).

Brownback: Yes, of the people on the stage I am the only one that has worked in the trade business.

Tancredo: No, if they wanted to buy Wal*Mart I might think about it, but not NASDAQ. (Personal comment here, but that just shows the disconnect between politician and every man, they want to protect the corporate structure of NASDAQ, or "big money" but could care less about what a foreign interest controlling the largest retail chain in the US might mean, TERRIBLE ANSWER by Tancredo in my opinion).

0:40 Thompson has a strong answer on not confusing the wealth of government with the wealth of nations. The only problem I have is he likes to talk with his hands. He looks like he is trying to direct a plane landing or something with the amount of waving going on.

0:42 Thompson supports the war in Iraq, and wants to stay in and stabilize the place. Yeek, more nation building rah rah stuff. I was just starting to like Thompson's answer, and now he wants to continue foreign nation building. Boo-hiss.

0:44 McCain claims 4 years ago he was against this failed foreign policy and was criticized by his party. Then he goes off to speak about how he thinks Iran is positioning itself to fill a vacuum of terror left by Iraq. So wait you were against the war on Iraq, but are for a pre-emptive strike on Iran? Seriously, McCain has lost his marbles.

0:45 Ron Paul is about to speak, I think this should get interesting because apparently McCain's alzheimers is kicking in again, did he completely miss the last debate where Ron Paul spoke out against Iraq for the entire debate and was voted the front runner for it. Fun times ahead!

0:46 Senator Brownback continues to spout his belief this was a war on terror, not a war for oil. "We haven't found the weapons of mass destruction, but that doesn't mean we leave!" He then talks more about more nation building and splitting Iraq up into 3 states.

0:48 Hahahaha, Thompson being grilled on his statements about WMD's. He is backtracking and saying he was just stating what was obvious that Saddam had had WMD's in the past. SPIN ALERT. Thompson realized he stuck his foot in his mouth a few days ago and is now trying to spin it, instead of saying "I misspoke." Have you ever noticed politicians never make a mistake?

0:51 GREAT QUESTION being asked here for each candidate to answer. "Do you believe the President needs congressional approval for a strategic attack?"

Hunter: It depends. If the target is fleeing no, so if you have a narrow window of attack then he doesn't (yeah, that won't be abused hugely). He also thinks our attack in Iraq was a "strategic strike"... good thing we haven't been there for 4 years and it isn't a war... oh wait.

Paul: Absolutely. (simple and straight, and blows up Hunter's answer as "war propaganda" - calls it a road to disaster - HUGE applause).

Huckabee: a president has to do whatever a president has to do to protect the American people. Pressed on if he would do it without going to congress "if the situation needed it"... Yeeks bad answer from a candidate I like. Wow, his answer even gets worse, when asked "What if congress says no" he says "you do whatever is best for the American people and suffer the consequences." Just a HORRIBLE answer for someone like me who is a constitutionalist. I really liked Mike Huckabee but that was possibly the worst answer he could have given with respects to my political views.

McCain: if it requires immediate action then yes. If it is a long serious of buildups you go to congress. He says it depends on the scenario, but he says at minimum he would consult with congress. Not great answer, but not horrible.

Thompson: He agrees in step with McCain. Discusses the "war powers act" and the conflict between the president and congress, but says you should err on the side of caution and go to congress. Strong answer by Thompson, he gives the right answer (go to congress) but for the wrong reason, not because the constitution says we should but because you need the people's support for a conflict which congress will help you with (which I do agree with).

Guiliani: It depends on the circumstance. He starts attacking Ron Paul, and surprise surprise, continues to say 9/11 and September 11th over and over and over again. Then starts bashing on Hilary some more. Guiliani seems all defense and no offense, just reacting to his criticisms. Ron Paul looks pissed. Now he wants to go attack Iran before they become nuclear.

0:57 Now Rudy is double speaking, saying the war was really over oil and that the war with Iraq MIGHT not have happened if we weren't so dependent on foreign oil. Oh, and he mentioned that putting a man on the moon was an issue of national security??? He doesn't want to draw the line anywhere on Nuclear Plants or Oil drilling, but he doesn't want to harm the environment.

0:59 Brownback supports the raping and pillaging of oil anywhere and everywhere we can get it (summary of what he said). But he doesn't understand the difference between a hybrid and flex fuel car, calls the flex fuel Chevy Malibu an electric car... ???

1:01 Tancredo supports drilling anywhere and everywhere as well to get off the dependence of foreign fuels. I actually don't totally disagree with this stance but they don't really speak eloquently with respects to the position.

1:06 Huckabee and Thompson both support government funding for alternative fuels, not letting the free market decide but propping it up with subsides. Romney throws his hat in with them as well.

1:10 Ron Paul speaks against the subsides. His big problem is he is coming off as "angry and loud" while Huckabee, Romney and Thompson are sounding more "Presidential" with their tone and presentation. Candidates shouldn't underestimate the impact of their tone and presentation not just the words coming out of their mouth, you can speak the truth but if you don't sound good doing it the message is lost.

1:13 Guiliani continues to not answer actually any questions, just attacks Hilrod some more. Hey Rudy, win your party vote before trying to win the presidential vote.

1:18 Tancredo seems to be a one trick pony. All he does is talk about immigration. Trade, oil, social security, literally every issue he has turned around to talk about immigration. (Turning social security around to talk about immigration was impressive, sad, but impressive).

1:21 Paul supports unions (but obviously no legislation giving them special benefits), Huckabee supports unions, McCain and Romney are both middle ground. Thompson points out he is in a union (SAG) so of course he supports them. Rudy's grandmother apparently was in a union, and starts talking about the UAW (in Michigan, shocking). Brownback follows Rudy's lead and starts talking about his mother who was in a union. Tancredo starts bashing unions (and Sen Brownback's mother) and in a SHOCKING move, he brings up illegal immigrants. Seriously, wow.

1:27 McCain is asked a question and just stares blankly for 10 seconds before realizing they are talking to him. I think his hearing aid battery just failed (or he forgot where he was).

1:30 Guiliani is against taxing the internet, but wants to "police the internet." Wants to establish a task force to deal with it (yeah, those work... SO WELL). Wants to establish an FCC style agency to govern the internet. I can literally here hundreds of thousands of internet users jumping off his bandwagon. Doby the house elf is a moron.

Huckabee: ignores his question, rambles on for over 2 minutes (he is given 30 seconds)... blah blah blah but says nothing.
Romney: stays within his time limit and looks more presidential.
Thompson: is asked about the dollar and I think he wishes he only had 5 seconds as he isn't sure how to answer. Ends up ending with 10 seconds left.
Guiliani: starts attacking the democrats and how pessimistic they are.
Brownback: Uhm, Uhm, yeah, Uhm... ANSWER THE QUESTION!
McCain: He can't hear AGAIN! Get a new miracle ear Mr McCain.
Paul: Repeats his "End the War!" chant. He won't support the Republican candidate unless that candidate changes his views.
Tancredo: He won't support the candidate either.
Brownback: He will support whoever.
Hunter: He will support whoever as well.
Guiliani: Calls the United States the "last best hope for humanity"... hrm perhaps he isn't Doby the House-Elf, perhaps he is an alien from Babylon 5.
1:40 Romney: will support the nominee (and then hints that it will be himself) And then makes the best joke of the year: "The Republican debate is a lot like Law and Order, it has a huge cast, it goes on and on forever, and Fred Thompson shows up at the end" - Even Thompson has a good chuckle at that one and Romney continues to do well.

1:47 Debates over, Thompson says the debate was boring without him.

So my scorecard for the event:

I think Mitt Romney probably came off looking and sounding the best, this was definitely his strongest showing yet.

Next was probably Fred Thompson. He looked shaky at times and you could tell he is still learning this game, but for a first time showing he spoke well, didn't stumble on much, and didn't make any huge mistakes.

Guiliani probably came off next strongest. His repeated attacks against Hilrod and the Dem's are laying the groundwork for him to be more "conservative" viewed. If he can stick to economics he will do fine in the GOP, it's the moral issues that get him into trouble.

Huckabee despite the issue that I STRONGLY disagree with, had a lot of face time, kept his name in the mix, and sounded presidential. After the top 3 main candidates he probably faired the best of the next tier of candidates.

Ron Paul didn't come off great, he has a lot of good economic ideas, unfortunately unlike other candidates when reduced to 30 second sound bites they come off sounding horrible. As long as he keeps harping on the war he will stay in it, as it is obvious the American people are opposed to the war, but like Guiliani when he strays into moral issues he starts to fall out of step with the GOP.

McCain just came off as old and forgetful. His biggest issue is people view him as too old to run and part of the established party that got us into this mess, instead of changing his image he just reinforced it. Not a good debate for him.

Sam Brownback did okay, he is still young and this may just be foundation building for a future run at an office. He knows he isn't a serious contender but none of his economic stances were out of step with the party, so he could make a run in the future.

Tom Tancredo was just... annoying. All he wanted to do was harp on immigration, and unlike the Iraq war, no one cares "passionately" about that issue. Sure we care about immigration, but we care a whole heck of a lot more about troops dying over seas. Tancredo is just flushing money down the toilet by staying in this race.

Duncan Hunter was even worse than Tancredo. At least I knew Tancredo was at the debate, Hunter did nothing to establish or distinguish himself... Even though Tancredo was annoying, at least you knew he was there, Hunter was just vanilla bland. Not what you want when you are on the bottom of the pile.


james d said...

I started your blog not anticipating I would actually have the attention span to finish but I did. Nice post! I missed the debate, I was watching MCCS crush St Michaels 42-24, so I appreciate the play by play.

I am glad that even fringe candidates like Paul, Tancredo, and Brownback are in the debate. I know you like Paul but he is not even close to being a contender. Right now is the time for the Republican Party to make their voices heard on issues like Iraq, gay marriage, taxes and abortion. Once a candidate is chosen it will all be about beating Hilrod.

I know you like Paul's ideas but do you really, as you watch him on tv, want him to lead the free world?

Ryan and Shalisa said...

That is the issue with Ron Paul... he doesn't look or sound like a president.

I don't think he is nearly as bad as you think he is, especially if you watch him give a speech or talk at a rally he comes off much more polished, but for some reason at the debates he falls into angry red faced Texan mode... which hurts his cause.

I would be absolutely fine with Ron Paul leading the free world, I think he would do a VERY good job at it. The more I read and the more I research, the more I am convinced that Ron Paul is the candidate for me. Do I think he will win with GOP nomination, I highly doubt it.

But his latest 3rd quarter earnings report was positive. He has more cash on hand than Mitt Romney now, only Thompson and Guiliani have more cash... and really when you get down to the brass tax that will be what determines these races. If he hits his Q4 goal of 12 million in the next quarter alone, then yes I think he has a realistic chance of winning the bid. But he HAS to keep that money rolling in for him to have any kind of shot when Iowa and New Hampshire roll around. If he doesn't place third or fourth in one or the other, then I think he is sunk (unless it is a close 20/20/20/20/15 split or something like that).

I still think he only has an outside shot, but as long as he keeps running I will keep touting him.

I figure the worst case scenario is he doesn't win, but he at leasts awakens the GOP big wigs to realize that we want out of Iraq, we want smaller government, and we start a movement away from the neocons.

Matt & Steph said...

Hey, thanks for this post. I also couldn't catch this debate but enjoyed reading your play-by-play. I know everyone is talking up "dobby" but I'm pulling for Huckabee.

Koralmae said...

Dang! I thought my Kissinger entry would be long. I can't come close to that, dude. I'm ADD, ya know.