Verrry loose recap, will likely update this tomorrow.
Big Winner: Mike Huckabee - played to the SoCon base quite well, some non-answers about his FairTax ideas (possibly to avoid scaring mainstream GOP’ers from conflating him with Ron Paul. As far as Iowa and possibly South Carolina are concerned, this has boosted him to top-tier candidate status.
Honourable Mentions: John McCain for making sure to tell us that he will keep the Ronaldus Magnus Reagan’s stylus close by to veto any and all pork. Also, after a few salvos traded with Dr. Ron Paul over pulling out the troops, I think McCain’s Glare of Doom™ was indicative of the MASSIVE well of self-control he was exercising to prevent himself from walking a couple-three steps over to Dr. Paul’s podium and slapping the living daylights out of him for uttering such foolish, isolationist pablum - effectively reducing our troops’ service to a meaningless sacrifice.
Downer Point: He did give some shifty answers when challenged about shamnesty.
Disappointing: CNN commentary dedicated toward painting Fred as irrelevant. That said, Fred REALLY needs to start picking apart the apparent frontrunners, especially Mitt for his flip-flopping and Clintonesque question evasion, and Mike Huckabee for his large-scale, high tax, nanny-statist do-gooder approach (i.e. fiscal liberalism). Fred’s performance wasn’t bad at all, although he seems to be learning the game: keep coming back to the focused, studied talking points (cut spending/borrowing from SSA, Medicaid and Medicare was a recurring point), as well as a few good elbow jabs to the other candidates. Special kudos for the ratcheting up of the hit-meter with the Huckananny Tax Hiker and Mitt-the-Fetus-Killer piece.
Still out in Looney-Land irrelevant: Dr. Ron Paul. While his unique talent to summon “money bombs” and flash mobs of nearly-crazed Truthers, conspiracy theorists, “Libertarians” bordering on anarchists, all adorned with cute stenciled “rEVOLution” signage is nice and all, $5.5M and about 60,000 die-hard supporters arranged around fringe positions that will never be accepted by the GOP mainstream do not bode well. Among this pack of GOP war dogs, Ron Paul is an annoying poodle that whines incessantly while being a nuisance underfoot. Fortunately, he seems not too be willing to run an independent campaign in the (almost certain) event he fails to get the GOP nomination. He would have *just* enough of a following to provide a nasty spoiler effect in a three-way general election.
No Traction/Sliding off into Irrelevance:
- Duncan Hunter (he has great ideas, but low fundraising power and zero traction)
- Tom Tancredo (nearly irrelevant; he is a one-issue candidate, continually carping about immigration.)
Loosers of the Day: Mitt and Rudy. Not that I object terribly to seeing these two get taken down a few notches… but these two are strange foils - Mitt attacking Rudy on immigration, and Rudy attacking back with equal fervor, as well as challenging Mitt on his not-bombproof crime reduction record.
As Iowa front runner, if Mitt knew what was good for him, he should focus more on tamping down Huckabee’s surging influence and start pointing out the Nanny behind Huckabee’s vision for America. I do notice that Huckabee and Rudy are playing quite nicely with each other, and has left me wondering if there just might be a gentleman’s agreement between the two to select the other for VP should the other get the POTUS nod from the GOPCON.
As for Fred, he would do well to consider a similar notion with one of the other top tier candidates. Not sure how that will parse though, as things can and will likely change, and the claws come out and the fangs bared in the next 40+ days until IA and SC.