Personal Observation on GOP Debate
I titled this commentary as “personal observation” because that is what it is. It is not an objective analysis of the debate in terms of the political rivalries and the political impact on the fortunes of the respective candidates. Some of my views will run contrary to the responses of many Republican voters. I will do the more professional political analysis in an upcoming commentary.
For me, the big winner was former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. I think she moved up from an “also running” to a first rank contender. She was as good a debater as any – and I believe she could handle President Trump in a face-to-face confrontation.
It was not only her platform ability, but the debate brought forth her experience and knowledge of “presidential issues” – domestic and foreign. If the election were today, she may have earned my vote. But it is not today, and I am open to other possibilities.
Haley was the only one to address Republican culpability in excessive spending, adding to the National Debt and acting like Washington establishmentarians. I have often written that I would not vote for Trump in the GOP primary. He is off my list of possibilities. And so is Vivek Ramaswamy. And he fell off because of the debate. He has a great stage presence and looks great on the tube. However, he reminds me of a glib salesman – rattling off his sales pitch in machine gun fashion. He sounds good – but fast-talking salesmen always do. Behind the platitude, however, I do not see a person ready to take on arguably the most important job in the world.
It is not just inexperience that has dropped Ramaswamy off my list of possibilities. I find his hardline opposition to world leadership a deal breaker. His commitment to withdraw American and western support from Ukraine is political Neanderthal-ism. He supports surrendering part of Ukraine’s territory to achieve a Neville Chamberlain-style peace. I take a hardline against Putin and his ambitions to rebuild the Soviet Union. And I is see America’s security linked to defeating Putin. I do believe in an America First policy, but that also means first as a world leader in peace and against evil aggression.
Ramaswamy compared himself to President Reagan at one point. I would remind him that Reagan brought down the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War. Reagan would not be inclined to allow the Mad Man of Moscow to rebuild it. I knew Ronald Reagan, and Ramaswamy is no Ronald Reagan.
Ramaswamy did very well in the debate – and came out of it more popular than going in. Many pundits believe he won the debate. He may have, but it cost him my vote.
Florida Govern Ron DeSantis was my original pick. I slipped off team DeSantis in the early phase of his campaign. I was one of those who caused the drop in his polling number. I was a little rattled by his avoidable fumbles – at least avoidable if he had been taking my advice.
DeSantis opened with an impossible strategy – to defeat Trump without offending him or his rock-solid supporters. How can one run against and not offend a guy who takes offense to anyone who does not kow tow to him? I also thought some of the fights DeSantis picked were not the wisest choices. While he tries not to be definitive on the subject of Ukraine, it appears he would not provide the existential support for invaded ally. The pushes me away from him.
On the other hand, I thought DeSantis gave a very strong performance in the debate. Certainly, no gaffes. He is a better communicator than the left-wing media – and some Republicans – claim. With a little fine tuning in his messaging, he could still be the non-Trump candidate to beat. He is one of the three who I believed helped themselves in the debate. The others being Haley and Ramaswamy – although he did not gain my future consideration. In the first event in the political Olympics, I awarded the gold to Haley, Silver to Ramaswamy and Bronze to DeSantis. I will deal with the others in an upcoming commentary.
So, there ‘tis.