06 September 2007

The Day After

Back at HQ here in Connecticut, its time for some waxing philosophical about the debate last night, and the overall impressions that one comes away with after sitting through such an exercise.

For the hosts, the Whittemore Center Arena looked great and the FOXNEWS/NHGOP folks were terrific. They could not have been better to the contingent of Connecticut Republicans who went to the debate. The process of entering the debate went smoothly and was fairly painless. The University of New Hampshire is a handsome New England university campus, evocative of UCONN in many ways. Durham is out in the middle of nowhere - lousy cell phone service, no signs marking the route from the highway to the campus (Live Free or Die, I guess), but pretty nonetheless. It'd be like putting UCONN in - well, Storrs, I suppose.

The debate was certainly a good one to see - plenty to watch and talk about the day after with friends and colleagues around the office. Each candidate handled barbs and dished out a few punches, most people suspect that "their man" won/suffered the most egregious punches, and the circus that surrounded the debate is worthy of note.

Governor Romney took it on the chin early and often in the debate, but stayed cool (as always) and kept jabbing at Rudy, over and over again. He knows who he needs to score points against and he does. The general impression you get from the Romney effort is that they are not unlike a top-rate football team, good enough to throw the ball down the field and score big when you need to, but achieving victory by grinding it out on the ground with superior organization and hard work.

Mayor Giuliani had a good showing last night - repeatedly coming back to his themes of experienced leadership and a dedication to the fight against jihad. He had a lot of fans in the room, and rightly so.

Senator McCain had a terrific debate, with all on stage having recently viewed McCain's very moving online video, Courageous. All were deferential and complimentary, and it seemed to put McCain as ease. He was jovial and direct - and people liked it.

Perhaps the most interesting encounter of the night was the first actual debate of these so-called 'debates' between Governor Mike Huckabee and Congressman Ron Paul. The issue of the Iraq War was raised and the two sparred back and forth with each other about the veracity of staying in Iraq. FOX actually let them debate - and it was refreshing. Ron Paul had a strong contingent in the audience, as did Huckabee, cheering and supporting their candidate - so to have the two face off was a sight to see. The best part though, at the commercial break, after the cameras were off, Huckabee went straight for Congressman Paul to shake his hand and he had a warm smile on his face. Huckabee is an honorable fellow.

So that was the debate. The Live Blog drew a good number of visitors - we were more than double our usual number of visitors for the day - so folks were watching. Many thanks to all the good Connecticut folks who made the trek up to UNH for the debate - it was a great opportunity that I am glad we took.