The Iowa Debates: The Republicans

by Ryan on December 12, 2007

in Election 2008,Politics

This latest debate from Iowa (sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television) focused on the issues that Iowan caucus goers want to know more about: meaning there was little Iraq and immigration in this debate, and the phrase “cut federal spending” was somehow worked into nearly every answer.

Oddly, the debate started at 2pm EST so I was able to watch the first ten minutes of the debate with my last period class!  We watched the first question being answered (something the debt as a national threat) and I wanted to elicit responses from the students on what they thought about each candidate without them knowing much to begin with.  I teach in a pretty liberal town so this would be interesting. 

The consensus was:  Giuliani spoke too much and made them uncomfortable because “he wasn’t letting the other people speak”;  Fred Thompson was on Law and Order, which was the extent of their analysis on him;  Mike Huckabee had big ears and bad teeth (did I mention how intellectual this class is?); they thought Mitt Romney both sounded great, but didn’t say anything; Tom Tancredo unfortunately spoke during announcements so they didn’t get a chance to analyze him; Duncan Hunter was very articulate and “presidential”; Ron Paul seemed edgy, nervous and kind of whiny;  John McCain looked tired but someone remembered that he has a noble story so the class acquiesced in their appreciation of him; and Alan Keyes (he’s in too?) was very well-spoken and full of energy.  

The class voted and Romney and Keyes tied for first!  We caucused like the Dems do in Iowa and Giuliani won on the second ballot, getting all the votes from the also-rans!  Of course, these students are 90% Democrat and very disinterested in anything political despite my best efforts to assign current events articles, hold discussions, and so forth.  Ultimately it came down to name recognition– NYC is 35 miles away.  What’s neat is that we’ll do the same exact thing tomorrow with the Dems at 2pm EST!  I like balance and think my students deserve it.

But onto a voting adult’s perspective of the debate.  I only saw a little bit, but I’ve been reading a lot about what I missed.  The buzz is that it was generally a dud (read the Malkin live-blogging in the link).  Fred Thompson had the zing of the day:  when Fred refused a global warming “hands show” and requested a minute to explain his position, his request was denied and the audience loved Fred’s gumption!  I guess he’s sick of this format too.  Alan Keyes… alas, great to watch, just not electable.  Then there was the same ol’ stuff:  Mitt’s style, Giuliani’s national security credentials, Huckabee’s quips (“I can’t part the Red Sea, but I believe I can part the red tape!”), etc. same ol’ same ol’.  I guess you can just watch the news tonight, pick up the two minutes that they think you should see, go online to get the real stuff you missed, and take it or leave it.  I’m glad this is the last debate before real votes get cast. 

PBS photo. 

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