You can view last night's debate here. Also, I caught the debate on Foxnews tonight...my reflections....
I like the format...the staged high school popularity contests "moderated" by self-important liberals were farcical imitations of serious discussions. In these last two debates, we were actually able to hear the candidates talk ideas, though I do wish there were more of them.
When asked about principles last night, here's what they said:
McCain - military service, the transcendent nature of our war with radical Islam, cites Declaration
Romney -- family, principles of an "eternal nature", importance of strengthening families, economy and military. Strong in all areas. I, for one, don't want the federal government attempting to "strengthen" my family.
Giuliani -- Safety. Cited Reagan.
Huckabee -- Not policies, principles. Cited Declaration, humans created equal. Rights come from God, not government.
Thompson -- First principles based upon Constitution. Goes on with a very important explanation of the Constitutional principles. Something that no other candidate does.
Paul -- Peace and Prosperity
My take on the candidates:
Huckabee -- he says good things (strong military, secure the border, etc.). You can see Newt's influence here and there (large monetary incentives for energy inventions). He cited the Declaration when asked about principles. However, he's having a hard time coalescing his record with his current rhetoric. He was nailed on the immigration issue when he tried to explain that he wasn't punishing the children with his now-tougher stance on illegal immigration. When asked if he could honestly say he is ready to lead given his lack of foreign policy experience, he gave answers that shows that he indeed, has no foreign policy experience. When talking about health care, he went on about prevention and said the system is upside-down. Ok, so what's the plan? Nothing.
Romney -- The Foxnews focus group was all about Romney. They saw him as very convincing. Much talk about change and leadership from all the candidates, but especially Romney. He emphasized his executive experience, saying that we don't need experts, but leaders. He played the change card from outside Washington.
McCain -- says that he is an agent of change within the government and has been for twenty years. He said that Americans want "leadership" not "management." He actually mentioned McCain-Feingold at this debate...that's one piece of history that he probably should not have brought up. He talked about his leadership in the military and his breadth of experience in foreign policy. He repeated how he was ahead of the curve on the Iraq surge. I think that he and Thompson are the most knowledgeable candidates on foreign policy.
Thompson -- I think obviously the most knowledgeable and committed to Constitutional principles. The others never even bring it up. He explained well-thought out plans to address social security, health care, tax policy, illegal immigration and homeland security. He was like a professor explaining to Huck about the habeas corpus rights that enemy combatants would receive if they were detained at Leavenworth, rather than Guantanamo (which Huck said should be closed down).
Giuliani -- I don't have much time for him. I respect him for what he did in New York and would vote for him if he was the nominee, but he seems to me to be a hedonist whose highest principle is safety.
They talked about the Fair Tax -- Thompson made the point that it's not a bad idea, but that it would require a Constitutional Amendment to ensure that the income tax never comes back. Instead, he proposes an option for the taxpayer that is flatter and much more easily workable.
So, which candidate meets The King's Academy's standard of leadership? The standards of
- knowledge - a firm grasp of founding principles, current issues facing the nation and engaging ideas.
- wisdom -- willingness to apply founding principles, able to predict consequences of decisions and demonstrated ability to act toward results in line with principles.
- and godly character (I'm not guessing at spiritual condition, but a publicly demonstrated quality of integrity).
After this debate, I still stick to my original analysis that any of these guys will be acceptable as President. They are not all leaders, but they would manage well.
For two good analyses, see Michelle Malkin and the guys at Powerline.