this afternoon the final GOP debate in Iowa before the January 3rd Caucus was held. The debate was hosted by Iowa Public Television and the Des Moines Register. I have several thoughts.
1. The format was different in comparison to the other debates thus far. Each of the candidates were given equal questions and had equal time to speak to the voters. The moderator of the debate was really strict. She tried her very best to keep the candidates to their alloted time and no more. There was an audience but they were very quiet. the focus was on the candidates and there was no crowd reaction to measure.
2. While the candidates wanted more time to interact with each other the rules of the debate did not allow for this. Thus it was a rather boring debate. There was not a whole lot of new things that voters had not heard before in their stump speeches on the campaign trial.
3. Alan Keyes was the exception today. This was his third debate and he was just as obnoxious and loud as ever. However the “A Word” (Abortion) did not cross his lips in the 90-minute debate so I must give him brownie points. He was highly animated and talked louder and tried to talk longer than anyone. The moderator had much difficulty to get Keyes to shut up. While this made him look like a raving lunatic to me I go several good chuckles out of the encounters and they were great comic relief in what was an absolute snore-fest.
So who won? Unlike other debates the spinning is mixed. I am sort of surprised. This was Fred Thompson’s best debate so far but unfortunately for him this was not a debate that most people will see because of the afternoon start-time. Mit and Rudy did well too. They were more positive than usual. John McCain challenged us to be Energy independent in five years (I’m for that!).
So what about Mike? I guess you could say he won by default? Mike is the new frontrunner in Iowa. I expected a lot of attacking of him and his record this afternoon and that was just not the case. This was not his best debate but you can understand why. He’s been dodging attacks for the last week and a half and I think even he was shocked that he was not facing more this afternoon. He gave great answers on a few topics. He was very presidential and humble. he was deflated from the uproar caused by an upcoming new York Times interview which takes a question Mike asked about the Mormon religion out of context. He even apologized to Romney despite the fact that he meant no harm. He noted this in spin-room interviews and alluded to it on stage. Mike was definitely remorseful about the damage that had been done.
that’s 90 minutes I won’t ever have back and my thoughts about them.