32 Years Ago Today, Ronald Reagan Showed Us What a Difference a Debate Can Make

Bookmark and Share  Tonight the Republican presidential candidates will be gathering in New Hampshire for a presidential debate and in a matter of hours, they will be having another one on Sunday morning.

Both of the debates may not change the outcome of the New Hampshire primary being held on Tuesday, but they will have effect on it and the momentum that is established will play a role in the  South Carolina primary that follows New Hampshire’s contest.  How much af an effect is the big question.

My opinion is that of all the candidates still running, Newt Gingrich is the candidate skilled enough to maximize these two forums and use them to his advantage in ways that far exceed the others on the stage with him.

But the right opportunity could just prove to be pivotal to any of the participants.

Exactly 32 years ago today, Ronald Reagan literally established himself as a man  to reckon with in  politics when the moderator of another New Hampshire debate tried to silencehim.  When that man asked that his mic be turned off, Reagan turned to him and shouted, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green”.

From that point on, in the minds of voters, Ronald Reagan established himself as fighter who will stand up to anyone and say it like it like it is.  He also established himself as a determined man who will stand up for all that he believes in and who was not afraid to do so.

As seen in the video below, Reagan’s forcefulness received not only a rousing standing ovation of shouts, cheers, and applause, you might also note that the men he was running against, stood behind Reagan and were giving their own energetic round of applause to their opponent.

Such a moment may not come up tonight or tomorrow morning, but you can rest assured that each man on stage tonight will be looking for the just the opportunity to repeat history and follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps.

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Final Republican Presidential Debate Before Iowa Sees Many Homeruns and Few Strikes

Bookmark and Share    The final debate before the Iowa Republican Caucuses proved to be a mature, substantive exchange of views that allowed voters to get a good sense of each candidate’s political instincts.  Each one executed strong, solid performances, which validated their place on the stage and in this race.

Of course some performed stronger than others and from my vantage point, the strongest was Newt Gingrich, who at times found himself in the hot seat.

During the second twenty minute segment of the debate, Newt drew a great deal of criticism for his having made $1.6 million in consulting fees from FreddieMac.  On this issue, Rep. Michele Bachmann repeatedly condemned Gingrich’s business transaction with FreddieMac as an ultimate example of influence peddling.  To this Newt charged that Bachmann simply did not have her facts straight and reiterated the fact that he did not participate in any lobbying activities that could be construed as examples of improper influence and conduct.  While Gingrich’s need to defend his consulting for FreddieMac did account for his most uncomfortable moment, the rest of the night was his.

Newt’s finest moment came when he lambasted President Obama in an eloquent and stinging rebuff of the President’s opposition to the Keystone pipeline project.  On that issue Newt pulled off a successful triple play as he ingeniously tied Obama to a failed domestic energy, jobs , and national security policy.   Newt began his response to the Keystone XL oil pipeline project question in a most amusing , selfdeprecating manner while simultaneously mocking his closest rival in the nomination contest, Mitt Romney.

He began his answer by stating that since he has often been accused of  speaking too bluntly, he was “watching his words” and “editing” himself before answering that question.  He then added:

“I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany,”

The phrase refered to remarks made by Mitt Romney who had earlier in the week refered to Newt as “zany”.

From there, Newt proceeded to hit several home runs during the night with proposals designed to restrain extraneous power of the judiciary,  and continued with strong  calls to put an end to  immigration lawsuits against Alabama, Arizona, and South Carolina and  and a particularly rousing call to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities.

With a mix of Humility, humor, and history,  Newt produced what was probably his strongest performance yet and at the very least, helped stem any recent fall in the polls he has seen since last week.

Also pulling off a strong debate performance was Mitt Romney.

Mitt scored some high points with creative characterizations of Obama policies such as his “pretty please” foreign policy and references to Obama’s record job creation as something which suffers because the President has not lived in the real world and how “to create a job it helps to have created a job” .

Romney had his own share of discomfort when Chris Wallace pressed him on his changing positions on abortion and gay marriage.  But Romney responded by admitting that while his position on abortion had evolved to that of a pro-life belief he argued that  he has alweays been a supporter of the sancticy of marriage to be that of a union between a man and a woman, and that as a Governor he has done nothing but work to preserve both the sanctity of marriage and life.

Beyond that brief exchange that had Mitt on the defensive, the rest of the night saw him deliver one of debate appearances of the season.

While Gingrich and Romney stood out, the rest of the field was strong but unspectacular and did not achieve the type of results they needed to catapult them in to any kind of game changing position.

Rick Santorum was smooth and professional but unremarkable.

Rick Perry overcame his image as an incompetent debater and had some scripted but well delivered funny and memorable lines including one comparing himself to Tim Tebow, the second year NFL quarterback who draws criticism for his strong Christian faith and praise for his strong come from behind string of victories on the field.

Jon Huntsman was again, just there.  While nothing he said was counterproductive,  he seems to remain stuck in neutral.

Michele Bachmann was on her game but she essentially came out of this debate as the negative candidate.  Her relentless attacks on Gingrich, particular when she tried to claim that Newt was an enemy of the unborn, seemed to at times be overboard, and a display of far fetched examples of political stretches of the truth.  While she held her own and demonstrated herself to be a consistent conservative, she probably hurt herself more by  coming across as overly aggressively in a contest where voters are beginning to believe that the most important thing is to beat Barack Obama, not necessarily another Republican.

Place goes to Ron Paul.

Paul had a consistent positive pitch when it came to his sincere faith in fiscal conservatism and purity.  However he lost the bulk of Republican primary voters when he was pressed on his dangerously ignorant foreign policy and national security views.  This was especially the case when Ron Paul basically denied the dangers of Iran and of their potential capacity for the utilization of nuclear weaponry.  It was here that  Rick Santorum, once again,  unleashed a powerful rebuttal to Paul’s incompetence in the area of the federal government’s primary constitutional responsibility.

Overall, the debate was probably more entertaining than informative but it did give voters a glimpse at the potential strengths and weaknesses of each candidate in these final few days leading up to the Iowa Caucus.

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A decent night’s debating, but tougher days lie ahead for the GOP field.

Bookmark and Share   The latest GOP/Republican Party debate took place last night in Dartmouth, New Hampshire and was sponsored by the Washington Post and Bloomberg News. Interestingly, I had to search my satellite channels to locate Bloomberg in the first place. Getting back to serious matters having managed to locate Bloomberg, I settled down to watch what I hoped would be a truly engaging and competitive performance by the candidates.

The major problem with the debate was the format and layout, while well intentioned having a sit around the table layout, I believe it failed to spark the debate into life like previous one’s. Some of the question’s were also less then specific in their content, and presented some hypothetical scenario’s, Mitt Romney being the most forceful at pointing this out during the course of the debate.

Romney was the clear winner and buoyed by the earlier endorsement from Governor Chris Christie delivered an assured performance. He yet again managed to appear presidential, answered the questions in a short, factual and concise manner and really did deliver a performance which displayed a great deal of knowledge and ability on how to turn around the economy. He came to life when attacked by Governor Rick Perry over his health care overhaul in Massachusetts during his time as Governor. Romney masterfully turned the tables replying, “We have less than 1% of our kids that are uninsured,” Romney said. “You have a million kids uninsured in Texas. A million kids. Under President Bush, the percentage uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it’s gone up.” Knock out blow! An all round very confident and presidential like performance by Romney.

The next winner on the night was Herman Cain who as expected, came under considerable attack with some cheap sots dropped by Jon Huntsman saying he thought his 9-9-9 plan was the price of a pizza and Rep. Michele Bachmann who said, “The Devil is in the detail.” To his credit, with Rick Santorum trying to rally the audience into the debate, Cain himself turned in a presidential performance. He managed to defend his plan well and again highlighted the fact that he is the only candidate talking about wholesale changes to the tax system. Cain did well and considering the intense scrutiny of his 9-9-9 plan, did very well to communicate its strengths to the American people. The simple fact is, he has a plan that American’s understand, while his fellow candidates either have plans which are too complicated to communicate, or don’t possess one at all.

Yet again, my top three is rounded off by former Speaker Gingrich. Gingrich doesn’t moan or resent the little time he is allotted during these debates, but consistently proves himself as the most brilliant thinker with a magnificent ability to discuss the complex issues and explain them to the American people, in very simple solution based ways. I appreciate that many people look to Gingrich’s past however, I have this feeling, if given a decent and fair amount of media coverage, Gingrich could be the person with the solutions to make America rise like a “Pheonix from the flames”. In my opinion, he is brilliant and has some truly unique ideas and solutions for the very real current and future challenges America faces.

The next candidate who performed well on the night is former Senator Rick Santorum. He put in another strong performance even tackling the moderator Charlie Rose over time allocation during the debate and he managed to deliver the strongest attack on Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. Santorum has performed well in the last two debates and I have to admit, he is starting to win me over in the belief that he has some qualities which, could make him a serious candidate for higher office. Another good night for Santorum.

The losers on the night were again Ron Paul, who although springing to life when Herman Cain called Alan Greenspan the best Fed Chairman in his mind, Paul delivering savage criticism on that suggestion. Paul seemed relatively quite and devoid of innovative ideas for the rest of the evening. In fairness, Paul didn’t seem to get much allotted time last night compared to previous debates.

Governor Rick Perry, My,My,My! what has happened to the strong Texan Governor with a record most candidates would jump at? He couldn’t offer any real suggestions except opening up the energy market as a way of creating jobs and aiding the economy. Romney blew him out of the water when he tried to check Romney on healthcare and for most of the debate, Perry seemed content to just sit there and smile. Another poor performance, and certainly well off the pace in terms of delivering a convincing debate performance after the disaster of the previous two. Perry needs to get back to talking about his own record and achievements as Governor of Texas and forget about challenging Romney for now. If he continues to be too focussed on Romney, his presidential challenge will be long and gone by Christmas.

Rep. Bachmann, now I like the congresswoman and her energy however, she’d absolutely nothing new to add to the debate last night. She was happy to attack Herman Cain with a low blow comment about his 9-9-9 plan. She was like a cheerleader looking to be included in Gingrich’s selling of all the candidates good points. Unfortunately, Rep. Bachmann’s biggest problem is she’s making the same repetitious points since her barn storming debut in the CNN debate. She desperately needs some new ideas and talking points to reinvigorate her campaign and challenge.

Jon Huntsman appeared to start well and for all his experience both foreign and domestic seemed to fade badly as the debate went along. Again, he seems to like trying humour to make his points, note for his campaign, it isn’t working! The frustrating thing about Huntsman is he actually has some seriously good policies. He needs to joke less and sell his ideas more.

I thought all in all, the candidates weren’t really tested to their limits especially on an issue as important as the economy. Still, they departed Dartmouth last night confident in the knowledge that tougher debates and questions lie ahead. A decent night’s work for the GOP field when all is considered.

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Video of the Entire Bloomberg TV-Washington Post GOP Presidential Debate

  Bookmark and Share   As I noted in a post yesterday , that due to the relatively low access of Bloomberg TV to viewers, Tuesday night’s Republican presidential, one of the greatest challenges would be trying to prevent those who did not see the debate, from simply basing their opinions on media spin.  For that reason, White House, 2012 is providing a Washington Post video of the entire debate.

You should take the opportunity to watch it.

It was a very interesting forum that will allow you to get at least of sense of the candidates.

For a few perspectives of the debate, I suggest you take a look at two White House 2012 posts on the topic; “Welcome to the top, Herman Cain” and “Mindless Media Madness vs. Reality“.

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Mindless Media Madness vs. Reality

Another Republican Presidential Debate is in the books and another mind-bogglingly clueless post-debate analysis from the media has followed. Let’s not even get into the utter uselessness of the so-called fact checking that can’t even grasp the simple concept of static vs. dynamic scoring. The fact is that so much of the media is so invested in their story that they won’t let the facts get in the way.

Again and again, we have seen the media name the winners of the debates only to be proven wrong by the people who watched them. The media called Romney the winner of the last debate, but I called it for Cain. I was not alone in my thoughts as Cain followed that debate with a straw poll victory and a rise in the polls. The media was blindsided, both the left-leaning and right-leaning media outlets. Tonight I am calling the debate for Gingrich. The mind-numbingly obtuse media analysis equated Gingrich’s success tonight with occasional applause for the JV soccer team. They will be proven wrong once again.

They also focused on the ‘heat’ of the exchanges. They revel on the candidates attacking each other. To them, this is all political theater where issues don’t matter as much as soundbites and personalities. The dumbing down of America begins with the dolts in the main stream media. Their lack of any real knowledge on issues leaves them parroting mindless slogans and focusing on hair cuts. I wouldn’t trust most of them to cover a Snuggie fashion show, let alone serious fiscal, foreign affairs and political issues. So while they report the winners as whoever they think are the hottest names, the reality is quite different. Motivated voters, particularly motivated conservatives, are trendsetters not followers. Chanting “Yes We Can” doesn’t send thrills up their legs. They want substance and leadership. So here is a run-down of the reality beyond the mindless media madness.

Gingrich Wins New Hampshire DebateGingrich has been following a fairly safe strategy to date of remaining aloof from the infighting while basically mocking all the current Obama policies as not even worth discussing because they are so bad. Tonight he was more aggressive and didn’t let the media moderators get away with giving him no time. He insisted he be allowed to speak and he connected on issue after issue. While some may criticize him for not knocking out other candidates, I believe he made the biggest tactical move of the race so far when he picked the best one or two things from every other candidate during one of his answers. That showed that he can pick the best solutions from multiple sources and be a true consensus leader. Maybe that is how he would govern and maybe it isn’t, but the appearance of true leadership combined with the subtle lumping of all the other candidates as either one trick ponies or only party right was a major victory in how Gingrich will be perceived by voters.

Perry, on the other hand, has only weakened himself further. Each debate comes with Rick Perry having remembered to talk about one thing and one thing only. This time it was a less catchy version of drill, baby, drill. I was reminded of the Bush-Kerry town hall debate in which Bush stumbled through an entire series of questions repeating one variation or another of “it’s hard work”. While a President cannot be down into every detail, he also can’t just be big picture. Successful Presidents have advisers they can trust but know enough detail to provide both the necessary oversight and the public face to often complicated policy matters. Perry just doesn’t seem to have that ability. I rate him as ‘all hat, no cattle’ and while I think he’ll stick around for quite awhile, his chances of victory are very slim. Of course there could be another backroom deal like the one between Huckabee and McCain in the last election that resulted in the disastrous nomination of media McCain, so Perry can’t be counted out entirely.

Cain has managed to avoid becoming the next Bachmann and will not be a quick flash in the pan candidate. However, I would wager that the majority of voters share my concern about adding a new taxing authority to the feds. Santorum hit the issue squarely on the head and all the explanations in the world won’t fix the underlying problem with the 9 9 9 plan: the people don’t trust the government. When trust in the government is so low, it will be nearly impossible for Cain to convince people that they can trust the government not to abuse the new taxing power in the future. I do believe Cain’s campaign will begin to fizzle as the 9 9 9 plan just can’t be trusted because it relies too much on government being responsible. When his campaign does begin to falter, keep an eye out for those black ‘leaders’ who attacked Cain for not being ‘black enough’ to blame his decline on the GOP being too racist to elect the black candidate (who suddenly will be ‘black enough’ for them then).

Romney needs no lengthy summary. He is staying on track and made mincemeat out of Huntsman and Perry. There still is no enthusiasm for Romney like there was at CPAC in 2008, but he could get it back especially if the pack thins out and his opposition’s weaknesses can be packaged as unconservative – such as Perry’s anmesty-like policies were in the previous debate.

Paul has no one to blame but himself for tonight’s poor performance. When given the chance to ask any question of any candidate, he indulged his Fed fetish and attacked Cain without even having the sources he was using in the attack at his fingertips. The moderators rarely give him a chance to speak and when they do it is invariably only on the Fed or foreign wars. His failure to use the opportunity to expand his campaign to a broader message was a huge mistake. His biggest win of the night was the bit of praise and agreement he gained from Gingrich. His core followers aren’t going anywhere, so neither is he. But, those numbers will not grow if he helps the media package him as basically a one-issue candidate with a sour attitude and with no positive vision to offer.

Bachmann improved her performance this time and will steal back some of the support she lost to Perry. What many think was a softball question to her from Romney, I view differently. I think Romney was trying to make her look like a shallow, one-issue candidate as a way to push out the attack from the right and ultimately leave him looking more conservative with Bachmann out of the race. I think she successfully turned that back on him and his plan to make her look unelectable failed. Although, honestly, I don’t think she stands a chance.

Santorum, I must admit, is a candidate for whom I have no love. As a Pennsylvania conservative, I supported him when he ran for the Senate and then opposed him when he ran for re-election. I was not alone along conservatives who left his side, which is why he lost. He may appeal to the Huckabee crowd on social issues, but he voted for big spending over and over. Now, when he is running for office, he says he made a mistake and wouldn’t do what he did if he had it to do over again. I don’t believe him. I feel his credibility is even weaker than Romney’s. He may pick up some more endorsements after his fairly good performance tonight, but those endorsements are as much a ball and chain on his campaign as they are a boost. They tie him to neo-conservatives at a time when most Republicans are headed in the opposite direction. Social issues are of less importance and fiscal conservatism is of more importance. That’s the opposite of Santorum’s record in the Senate and that is a hard hurdle to overcome.

Huntsman should just back it up now and take a vacation. His attempts to attack Romney backfired miserably. His attempt to parlay his experience as Ambassador to China on the currency devaluation issue also failed miserably. His attempts to be funny were only marginally more humorous than Al Gore. In the post-debate questioning, he said that government should put caps on how large banks should be allowed to get and put the cap at somewhere around the size Goldman-Sachs was in 1995-98. He’ll be doing damage control for weeks. Pack it up sir, you’re done.

The end result: Romney, Cain and Gingrich will be the new top 3. Perry will fall. Bachmann will rally slightly. Huntsman will seriously weigh leaving the race. Paul and Santorum will continue to only play to their existing bases of support. As a final note, Romney’s campaign blundered enormously by having Christie endorse him today. It didn’t help the debate (which wasn’t even really watchable by most voters) and was generally wasted by coming at this moment. Saving that media fascination with Christie until his endorsement would have potentially separated Romney from a smaller pack a month or two from now would have been smarter. It will be lost in the debate spin and leaves Romney with nothing to counter a Palin endorsement later of someone else.

The Real Challenge in Tonight’s Washington Post/ Bloomberg TV Presidential

Bookmark and Share   This evening, 8 Republicans will participate in the seventh official presidential debate of the year.   Hosted by the Washington Post and Bloomberg TV, it will take place in New Hampshire at 8:00 PM (EST) and will be moderated by Charlie Rose who will ask questions of the candidates along with Washington Post’s  Karen Tumulty  and Bloomberg TV’s Julianna Goldman.  The entire debate will be dedicated to the economy and unlike previous debates, this one will feature a round table format with the candidates  seated next to each other.

The debate will stream live on PostPolitics.com,  and be broadcast live on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg.com and WBIN-TV in New Hampshire.

Following the event, the candidates and their advisers will speak to reporters in the political “Spin Room” which you can follow LIVE on C‑SPAN.org at 10:00 PM.

The debate comes at a critical juncture in the nomination contest.  With last week’s announcements by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Alaska Governor  Sarah Palin declaring that they will not be running for President in 2012, this will, be the first debate of the election which forces voters to focus on comparing those who are running to one another and not with any hoped, for but undeclared, potential candidates.  It also comes at a time when shifts in public approval of some candidates are swinging wildly.  Such is the case with Herman Cain and Rick Perry.  While Cain has emerged from the back of the field to take position in the top half of the field, the opposite has happened with Rick Perry.

At the same time Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to establish themselves as the alternative choice to the frontrunners.  Currently, all four of them are having to fight the “why” factor.  That’s  “why” as in why keep running?

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry is probably under the most pressure tonight.

While the this evening’s debate may not be a deal breaker for him, it is most definitely going to be his opportunity to gain ground that he has lost since he began plummeting in the polls after his las debate performance.  He could either get back on track or concede ground to Romney, Cain, or any one of the other second tier candidates, including Ron Paul.  And with about twelve weeks left before the first nomination ballots are cast, Perry really can’t afford to lose any more ground .  For him, tonight will mean the difference between voters continuing to consider his candidacy or writing it off as a dud.

For Herman Cain, this seventh debate provides him with the opposite version of the Perry situation.

Herman Cain must find a way to give voters who began to take his candidacy seriously after winning the Florida Straw Poll, reason to say, “Yeah.  He really is good“.  A good showing tonight will solidify Cain as the seriously strong, viable, anti-establishment alternative to the establishmentarian candidacy of frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney will also be under a great deal of pressure.  He will be the man in the hottest seat of all.  All the darts will be thrown at him.

Rick Perry believes the media driven perception that the Republican presidential election is a two man race between him and Romney.  So he will largely leave the other candidates alone and simply try to take Romney down.   Herman Cain understands that while Perry has been dropping in the polls, he has be rising and is in striking distance of overtaking Romney.  So he will try to to give voters every reason to do so by taking his own shots at Romney.  All the other candidates would like to make a name for themselves and know that one of the best ways to do so would be by landing a well publicized knockout punch to the current king of the hill.  For Romney, he needs to avoid making any gaffes and to somehow convince the Republican base that he is as as conervative as any of the other candidates sitting with him.  Pulling that off will be difficult but if he walks away gaffe free and standing, he will have achieved all he really needs to tonight.

Lost in each of those individual mini dramas will be another challenge that all the candidates will face in tonight’s debate.  It is a challenge that will come from the media.

Previous debates were televised live on relatively popular and mainstream cable news stations.  Bloomberg TV, has not yet established itself to be a  comparable, mainstream, news source. Due to the fact that Bloomberg does not release figures about the size of its audience and does not have a contract with the ratings company Nielsen, it is hard to say what percentage of the American viewing audience Bloomberg shares, but it is safe to say that its share of the viewing public is somewhat small.    Bloomberg TV’s audience does however have the highest median household income and the highest median net worth among cable news networks in the U.S..  Its viewer’s median income is $156,290.  But that does not translate in to more viewers.  Furthermore, Bloomberg TV is focussed on the New York City Tri-state are which includes New York City, Northern New Jersey, and Connecticut, and for the past two years the station has concentrated on building its 6 AM to 12 PM viewing audience, not its 8 to 10 PM audience.

This means that this evening’s audience will be far more limited than previous debates.  As a result, most people will be hearing about the debate through the filter of the liberal mainstream media.  In other words, the media will have far more control over the spin  of this debate than they have had in the past.  Most voters will be establishing their opinions of the candidates debate performances through whatever headline and spin that talking heads and journalists want us to believe.

That means that the greatest challenge facing the debate participants tonight will not come from one another, it will come from their ability to prevent the media from coopting their messages.

Mr. Fellows attributed the company’s absence on Nielsen to a combination of factors, including cost and Nielsen’s inability to measure the core audience sought by Bloomberg.

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Who Won Thursday’s Fox News/Google Debate in Florida and Why?

Bookmark and Share  With nine candidates and many questions asked by American citizens through Youtube, who if anyone do you think won Thursday’s Fox News/Google Debate in Florida?

Click here to take the poll

Then leave your comments explaining what made candidates winners and losers in this most recent debate. Or join the debate about the debate on White House 2012’s Facebook discussion page.

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