Palpable Hostility at Wednesday Night’s Republican Debate

(Post by LB)

The Republicans, specifically Romney and McCain, got right back to attack mode in tonight’s Reagan-fest debate after playing civil in the last debate. After receiving the support of Rudy Guiliani, and with Super Tuesday looming, McCain saw the opportunity to deliver to Romney the lethal blow. Romney needed to stop McCain’s surge before Super Tuesday. They both saw advantages in attacking the other, and the resulting exchanges were some of most openly acrimonious to date.

As in the last debate, the moderators asked questions that they hoped would ignite the candidates. Romney was happy to draw first blood, jumping on a question on whether he had warned voters that McCain would lead America down a liberal path. McCain was decidedly unpleasant and arrogantly snide, and was unrelenting in his assault. Romney noted that the New York Times had endorsed McCain, to which McCain replied by pretending to chuckle with Romney for a second too long, then saying that the two Boston newspapers, who know Romney best, had endorsed McCain as well. He said “You’d better believe, my friend” that the Arizona newspaper would support him as well,  in a tone that was dripping with sarcasm. Romney had no response.

Romney, an excellent debater, was smoother and more presidential, and had the support of the crowd. He had the first applause line, after asserting that anyone who attacks America will suffer the consequences. He mentioned Hizbullah in the same sentence as  Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He repeatedly tried to portray himself as the outsider, coming into Washington to fix a broken system. Romney focused on the economy and on his experience as a successful CEO and governor.

McCain touted his foreign policy experience and conservative credentials. But he spoke slowly and deliberately, and was unfocused at times. He tried to say ‘sub-prime mortgage housing crisis’, and, after stumbling over the words, went with ‘housing problem’, and yawned after being introduced. For anyone who thinks McCain is too old to be president, his tired performance did not help.

The harshest exchange came over McCain’s accusation that Romney supported timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. Romney vociferously denied the charge, and tried to portray McCain’s attacks as typical Washington dishonest smear tactics in an attempt to take the ‘straight-talk maverick’ mantle away from McCain. McCain said that the darkest days of the war in Iraq was the time for unequivocal support for the mission, not the ambiguous statements that he accused Romney of. McCain repeated that he did not believe that Romney had the experience to be lead the military.

Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee grew visibly angry over being left out of the discussion. Paul glared at moderator Anderson Cooper after having his answer cut off before a commercial break. Huckabee twice admonished the panel for not including him in the debate, and he and Paul would discuss their frustration on the side while Romney and McCain went after each other.

McCain’s performance was not great, but Romney is unlikely to stop his momentum. Gov. Schwarzenegger is slated to endorse McCain as well, leaving Romney with conspicuously few prominent endorsements.

2 Responses to Palpable Hostility at Wednesday Night’s Republican Debate

  1. [...] Augean Stables wrote an interesting post today on Palpable Hostility at Wednesday Nightâs Republican DebateHere’s a quick excerpt (Post by LB) The Republicans, specifically Romney and McCain, got right back to attack mode in tonight’s Reagan-fest debate after playing civil in the last debate. After receiving the support of Rudy Guiliani, and with Super Tuesday looming, McCain saw the opportunity to deliver to Romney the lethal blow. Romney needed to stop McCain’s surge before Super Tuesday. They both saw advantages in attacking the other, and the resulting exchanges were some of most openly acrimonious to date. As in th [...]

  2. Michael says:

    What would be a good name for our American equivalent to pollywood? I suppose MSM will suffice for now. As it stands as usual MSM will work it’s magic to get one of it’s candidates elected. After misunderstanding the values of educated white guys so much the less educated media puppets and puppet masters have had almost 8 years to manufacture this election to go their way. The NYT and CNN and the rest of the media that just parrots them has to be giddy with excitement. Our media now can control American politics almost completely. The only problem is Romney is smarter than all of them and may just surprise us all if he gets to debate an actual card carrying Dem not our own in disguise…

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