Friday, November 16, 2007

Democrat Candidates - Las Vegas Debate

I finally got a chance to watch a full debate last night between the Democrat presidential candidates. With so much press about Hillary's recent slide and gains made by both Obama and Edwards, I was interested to see how the night would play out. Things certainly started out quite fierce, with real fireworks between Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. The interesting thing was the the crowd really influenced the debate by loudly booing both Edwards and Obama when they went into attack mode on Clinton's credibility. This pretty much cooled their jets and I was relieved to see the debate move into questions of policy and away from the personal attacks.

Hillary showed remarkable poise all night, and gave solid answers to the questions poised by Wolf Blitzer, she was clearly well prepared for the night. Edwards, on the other hand, came across as petulant in the debate and really lost steam IMHO. I supported Edwards in the 2004 democratic primary, mostly because of his focus on alleviating poverty. Based on recent events, including last nights debate, Edwards no longer holds my interest as a presidential candidate, although I do think he would make an excellent VP.

Barack Obama was a mixed bag in the debate. At times show fantastic poise and a presidential demeanor, he at other times appeared unsure and halting. I think his inexperience continues to show itself in this primary, as other candidates demonstrate a better grasp of the issues. He is very likeable though, and I think he would do well in a general election against the Republican candidate, but I think he will need to hone his message and show more internal strength if he is to win the nomination.

The two badasses of the night were Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Senator Joe Biden. Kucinich was spot on with a majority of his comments, often correcting the presuppositions in Wolf's questions. A genuine liberal, in contrast to the rest of the candidates, Kucinich would be my top pick if he had a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election. Unfortunately he is too far from the general populace to even win the primary, much less the presidency. Pragmatism steers me away from Kucinich, even if I find my views are closely aligned with his (he was my closest match on the candidate calculator).

Biden was calm and relaxed all night, showing significant knowledge about the issues and an ability to connect with the audience. He may be a dark horse in this race, given additional national exposure I wouldn't be surprised if he moves up in the polls.

Governor Bill Richardson (NM) and Senator Chris Dodd gave unimpressive performances and are not likely to see a lot of traction from this debate. I was very impressed by Richardson's sensitivity to the immigration issue, as well as his expertise on energy. I really like Richardson, but he comes across in a grandfatherly way, instead of as a presidential leader. Dodd, on the other hand, is the Democratic version of John McCain. Very straight spoken, a bit crunchy, and not able to connect with the audience. I expect both of these guys to fall out of the race early in the primaries.

For a brief overview of the Democratic candidates, see the wiki entry.


RevoLutheran said...

Oh crap. I tried the candidate calculator and Kucinich is also my closest match -- now my wife is going to disown me.

(Kucinich drove Cleveland into bankruptcy when we was mayor...and that's when the river kept catching fire due to pollution too. It's hard for folks from Cleveland to look past stuff like that. If he can't run a city, what's he going to do with the country?)

Ryan said...

Biden is in a bit of a bind, in that wider exposure may make him look more appealing as to what he says, but it will also bring out that he is the senator from MBNA, and would be bringing back debtor's prisons if his corporate masters said to do so. For his sponsorship of punitive bankruptcy laws makes him about as appealing as Rick Santorum, as far as I'm concerned.