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Archive for October 9th, 2007

The Republicans Debate Economics in Michigan

Posted by Ryan on October 9, 2007

Chrissy Matthews and MSDNC market info-babe Maria Bartiromo teamed up with CNBC and the Wall Street Journal to handle the latest Republican Presidential debate over economics in Dearborn, Michigan.  I actually liked that they generally stayed focused on one issue: economics in this case. 

The debate was spirited, but not much news was made other than the debut of Fred Thompson to the pageant.  Ron Paul was out of touch with Republicans, the poll leaders were drawing distinctions, the “also-rans” were spirited, keeping the leaders honest and on the conservative side of things.  Lots of specifics were thrown around and was actually very informative.  As usual, I’ll give you my opinion of how each of the candidates performed:

Fred Thompson:  Mr. Law & Order did pretty well.  Lots of “ums” and an early awkward pause, but he definitely had a strong presence, answered everything in concert with the party’s principles (free markets, tax reform, open international markets), and stood up to numerous jabs by Duncan Hunter on China and trade policy.  I haven’t made the swing to Thompson by this performance, but he is a strong conservative presence, and tackled Social Security with a few numbers, wanting to index SS payments to inflation, not wages.  Not bad.  I’m always willing to listen to SS reform.  Romney zinged him towards the end, but Fred hit back in good spirit which livened things up well.

Romney v. Giuliani:  While using tax policy in Massachusetts versus New York City as the latest “see whose is bigger” moment of this debate, this pair was egged on by Chrissy in regards to the line-item veto.  Romney loves it and used it in Massachusetts, Rudy fought for it to be struck down by the Supreme Court.  Romney lashed back that it’s good and should be used by the President for spending bills if it passes constitutional muster.  Giuliani then reiterated his initial point, then said that it would have to be constitutional… just like what Romney was saying!  I gave that round to Mitt. 

Huckabee:  He belongs on this stage.  Even next to Romney and Thompson, Huckabee looks very palatable with another strong performance mixing his love for the Fair Tax with funny lines while articulating conservative principles without blushing.  Keep him there– I want more!

McCain:  When I watch McCain, I see an independent-minded cheerleader.  He’s positive, clear on the issues, but the order in which he spoke put him in a position to just hooray one point and poo-poo another, like watching a cheerleader’s reactions during the ebbs and flows of the game.  He’s also wrong on illegals and has done damage to himself with his “maverick” voting record.  His point about rallying the American people after 9/11 beyond “go shopping” was a good one, but he did not a distinguishing performance.  I think Thompson usurps a good chunk of McCain’s gravitas, which didn’t help when McCain asked Maria to repeat two questions.

Brownback, Tancredo, Hunter:  Solid folks on life, immigration, and the military, respectively, but it’s late in the game and they aren’t generating mass support, just also-ran, asterisk chatter.  Hunter’s still my Veep pick at this point.

Ron Paul:   I love Ron Paul for entertainment purposes only– he’s a great libertarian and should run for that party.  Today, it was like getting a lesson in late 1920s Federal Reserve economic jargon about the gold standard and currency reform.  He also pulled out some good ol’ lines like: “military industrial complex”, “America’s already in a recession”, Iran’s not an imminent threat or could ever be, the war for oil argument is “mercantilistic neocolonialism” (even McCain gave him props for Paul’s Adam Smith prowess), and our current policies in the War on Terror are a “violation of civil liberties.”

In the end I think Thompson met, not surpassed, expectations, Huckabee looked great again and is hanging around, Romney and Giuliani are still strong and seem like the candidates to beat.  While it’s tough to pick a winner amongst friends, I think Giuliani’s attacks on She Who Must Not Be Named really catered to the folks who want to see a fight and gives others the impression that he should move on to the next round since it seems he’s already looking ahead.  But in the end, I really miss Newt Gingrich.

CNBC-TV picture from the above link.

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