Reagan Library Debate Roundup And Reactionby Doug Mataconis
Before I get into the analysis of what happened in Simi Valley tonight, I’ve just got to say —- best debate backdrop ever.
I mean, seriously, how can a stage somewhere in Florida, New Hampshire, or Podunk, Iowa compete with a stage that looks out on the plane that served as Air Force One for nearly two decades and a beautiful California sky ? Quite literally, it seemed as if Ronald Reagan himself would come down the stairs, walk into the hall and tell all four of these losers to go home and let a real man lead the country.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re stuck with the candidates we’ve got, so let’s take a look at what we have.
So what the heck do we have ? In one sentence, we have the coronation of John McCain as the Republican nominee even if nobody wants to admit it yet.
John McCain: Less than an hour after an endorsement that pretty much guaranteed he would score huge victories in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut on Tuesday, McCain pretty much did what he needed to, which is not make a mistake. He did reveal his relative economic ignorance in the first question, but, quite honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed or that it will make that big of a difference. At this point, it’s all about winning primaries and getting delegates and McCain is set to score big on Tuesday.
Mitt Romney: Given the fact that he’s got guys like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin egging him to take McCain on, one would’ve thought that Romney would have been far more combative tonight than he was. Yea, he challenged McCain on tax cuts and got into an argument with him over a negative ad that McCain ran in Florida (which got so confusing that I honestly lost interest), but he didn’t really do much of anything to distinguish himself from McCain in a way that would make a difference to the people that will be voting next Tuesday. Romney will be in the race for awhile if only because he can afford to be, but he’s not going to be able to stop McCain.
Mike Huckabee: Apparently, not only does Mike Huckabee want to spend billions of dollars on a make work project to add two lanes to I-95 on the East Coast, but he’s open to spending billions more to do the same thing to highways all over the country. That, pretty much, was the only thing that Huckabee said that differentiated him from the other candidates. When I listen to him, I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s interviewing for the position of John McCain’s running mate, and judging from the reaction shots of McCain that I saw when he was speaking, he seems to be making some progress in that regard.
Ron Paul: What can you say ? He scored some points when he talked about the economy, but this debate made even clear than others that Ron Paul just isn’t an effective communicator of the philosophy of freedom in a political context. That, more than the newsletter story or anything else, is probably the main reason that conservative/libertarian voters who might otherwise agree with him haven’t voted for him and aren’t likely to anytime soon.
At this point, I don’t think that anything that happened in this debate is going to change the nature of the race. It’s more important the McCain has received endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and, reportedly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of which will go a long way toward making Super Tuesday a big day for the Senator from Arizona.