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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Ames Debate

Before this weekend's straw poll in Ames, the Republican candidates debated on Fox last night. Some observations:

Mitt Romney showed coolness and gravitas. He deflected some questions, which frustrated reporters but denied ammo to opposition researchers. At one point, though, he lapsed into a small bit of economic demagoguery, referring to trading partners as "opponents."

Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann sniped at each other, leaving neither looking presidential.

Gingrich was fluent and passionate, but history was not his friend. He said that this weekend is the 30th anniversary of President Reagan's signing of the Kemp-Roth tax bill. Alas, how many voters know what Kemp-Roth was? In response to a question about divided government, he cited his experience in dealing with President Clinton -- but that experience was generally not a happy one.

Jon Huntsman still has work to do. (One small but important thing: he kept putting his head down, not a gesture of strength. Jaw out, governor!) Rich Galen writes:

Huntsman - PRE: Got off to a shaky start and hasn't altered the trajectory of his campaign since. This is the first "big" event since his announcement and he has to show potential donors and supporters he is up to this. His laid-back style might work, but being Perry Como on a stage with the Rolling Stones will present difficulties for him to show his stuff.

POST: Answered the questions easily, but without passion. Move over, Mr. Como.

As for gay issues, The Advocate reports:

Jon Huntsman stood by his support for civil unions and Rick Santorum expressed concern for gay rights in Iran, but for the most part, the Republican presidential debate unfolded as anticipated on Thursday as candidates opposed marriage equality.

"I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality,” said Huntsman, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, in response to Fox News Channel anchor Chris Wallace, who asked whether his more moderate stance puts him in the “wrong party.” Still, he said that he believes in “traditional marriage” and, when pressed on whether his support for civil unions in the states makes him “right” while the other candidates and majority of Republican Iowa caucus goers polled are “wrong,” the candidate, who is not competing in the straw poll or the Iowa caucus next year, said, “They are not wrong.


In perhaps the most surprising twist of the debate related to LGBT rights, Santorum, who pledged to fight against marriage equality at home, criticized Iran during the foreign policy portion because it “tramples the rights of gays.”