Wednesday, November 28, 2007

GOP Candidates Trade Barbs during CNN/You Tube Debate

The Republican Presidential candidates squared off tonight in Florida debating typical conservative issues such as illegal immigration, taxes, gun control, and gays in the military. However, with the unique You Tube format, candidates were grilled by ordinary Americans. One of the things that struck me was when a guy from Dallas, held up a copy of the Bible and asked, “All of you should be judge on one question only, do you believe every WORD in this book?” Giuliani answered first saying that many of the stories act as metaphors, however, Romney answered that he believes the Bible is the word of God, implying that he believes in the literal sense of the book.

Another question that stuck out was when a user asked what the Confederate Flag means to the candidates. Surprisingly, an issue I thought that could be pivotal for voters in the South was very answered decisively. Romney immediately argued that a symbol that divides the country so much should not be tolerated, even attacking John Edwards in the process. “Every time I hear Edwards talk about two Americas, I want to throw something at the TV. We are one country and should be united.” Knowing that South Carolina is a key primary state for him, it was sort of reassuring that a man who changes his mind quite a bit came out so strong. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson also spoke out against the flag, in a mush softer manner, saying that it should not be flown individually in public places.

The candidates were asked to create a 30 sec You Tube ad for their campaigns, but Thompson’s clearly stood out being the first and only attack ad. Many insiders afterwards sense this was a sign of desperation for his campaign.

Another interesting thing about the debate was that the name Bush was only mentioned twice. Virtually all the candidates, aside from Ron Paul, agree with Bush on the vast majority of things such as Iraq, taxes, gun control, religion in public life. It’s funny that though he still has over a year in the White House the candidates pretend he doesn’t exist (no credit to him). Given Bush’s popular rating, I think not differentiating themselves can come back to haunt the Republican candidates in the general election.

Finally, the winners of the debate were declared by CNN’s panel. Conservative commentators said that Romney came out the strongest, but all analysts voted Mike Huckabee (and I agree) the winner. Huckabee came out ready to answer challenging questions with thought provoking explanations, all in a funny/witty manner. In terms of losers, internet darling Ron Paul was extraordinarily weak today and there was a sigh of disappointed when he said he would not run as an independent (perhaps a sigh of relief as well.)

Stay tune for some video postings of the debate that we’ll post on the blog.

Anay Shah

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