I recorded and re-watched the Republican Presidential Debate tonight from the Reagan library in California.
I was taking notes - but it got late, so let me just give a few general impressions broken into categories -
Brownback - Wow - I would never have expected it, but I thought he came off really, really well. Much better than I expected. I thought he seemed composed, rational, and direct. Easily the best of the second tier.
Romney - Incredibly smooth and positive; almost too smooth in that it almost seems contrived, but he was impressive.
Giuliani - This was an incredibly difficult situation for him because he is the most moderate of the Republicans, yet he stood his ground, and was strong - and yet got his points across clearly. He managed a difficult situation well as the front-runner.
McCain - Shockingly bad; he warmed up a little bit as things went along, but frankly, he didn't look remotely like a President, and I think he won't make it to the primaries.
Tancredo - Simply looked out of his league; he was so choppy and utterly unable to get his point across; I thought his campaign was about taking extreme conservative stands, but I simply have no idea what he was trying to do tonight
Who? - I'm going to divide this into two sections - First, those who gave it a valient effort, and then those who were just invisible...
Gilmore - when he was actually asked a question, I thought he did fairly well, even though I've never even heard of him before; he always seemed poised, strong, and have ideas...but he was rarely given much of a chance
Huckabee - He was what he always is - full of character and leadership - yet he simply was not given a chance to really expand on anything - it was always in brief questions that were not in his wheelhouse
Hunter - simply did not stand out, he looked like a Congressperson, not much more
Paul - diligently advocated the Libertarian position - which was different, but that was the only thing that made him stand out
Thompson - disappointing; he was just barely there, there was simply nothing whatsoever impressive about him
Who looked Presidential?
Romney - won the debate, solidifies position, will take supporters from those who didn't do great
Brownback - stood about among the 2d tier
Guliani - as long has he can do this - fight against the right-wing effectively - he will be nominee
McCain - Ugh...he won't make it to the primaries
Thompson/Huckabee (because he made no splash) --- these two guys I thought could be dark horses, and they didn't stand out - it's over for them
Similar to the Democratic debate of last week - this just goes too fast to give any of these guys a chance to really come off well...so the key is not to come off poorly. Romney and Guliani accomplished that - McCain simply did not.