General Wesley Clark, a liberal advocate who eventually endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, praised the Republican candidates for an "excellent debate" in an appearance on MSNBC this morning:
“From the perspective of the democracy,” General Clark says, “I thought this was an excellent debate. I thought people around the world who would have see this would have looked at this and said, boy, those Americans, they know what they're doing.”
Spartanburg, South Carolina After a series of debates in which foreign policy and national security issues received little attention, Republicans spent Saturday evening here debating everything from the Arab Spring and Pakistan to foreign aid and China currency manipulation.
Another Republican presidential debate, another forceful performance by Mitt Romney. The subject was the economy, jobs, and finance—Romney’s strong suits—and he made the most of it, having more to say on those subjects and saying it more cogently than the other seven candidates.
In the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove previews tonight’s debate, saying that it “presents opportunities and dangers for each candidate.” Rove writes that Rick Perry “has had two okay-to-mediocre debate performances,” which “is dangerous.” He says that Perry needs to convey that he would be a good steward of Social Security, while also advancing his plans for reforming it and putting it on more solid fiscal ground. “More importantly,” Rove writes, “Mr. Perry needs to change the dynamic of the debates, in which he’s been (in his words) the piñata,” and “put Mr. Romney on defense over health care.”
If Monday night's GOP presidential debate is any indication, Romneycare may not be the liability it once was for Mitt Romney. The former Bay State governor took fewer punches on the issue than before and seemed to have absorbed most of the blows.
If a debate more than four months before the first vote is cast can influence the outcome of a presidential nomination race, the debate last night among eight Republicans should aid Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Seldom has there been as clear a winner.
Campaign events tend not to be the first place to look for nuanced constitutional debate; the Lincoln-Douglas encounters are the exception that proves the rule. So what are the odds that a thoughtful debate would occur not just between candidates of rival parties, or even rival wings of the same party, but within the Tea Party itself?