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October, 9th 2007

Debate thoughts

– Liz Mair

I'm gearing up for today's debate here at home, and hope you'll be tuning in later on also.

Needless to say, this is going to be a big one, because Fred is participating. It's on economic issues, and Fred generally has a lot to say here. He's quite good at railing against extravagant spending, and big, bulky entitlements like Medicare Part D and Social Security. So, I think this could be good for him-- as long as he adjusts the monotone, and comes off as a wee bit more energetic than normal.

The real action I'm anticipating at the debate will be between Rudy and Romney. Romney, inexplicably, has decided to go after Rudy tons on economic issues in recent weeks. This is despite the fact that, in my estimation, Rudy's strongest card is his record on taxes and spending (not as his campaign seems to think, 9/11), and (as CATO's rating of him makes clear, as does what they've actually written in their assessment of him, at page 26, here) despite the fact that Romney has some serious weaknesses in this area. Remember: Bill Richardson, a Democrat with a Democratic legislature, did better than him with money, according to CATO.

Watch for Romney to attempt to kick the crap out of Giuliani and portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal (which he's not, and which Romney is much closer to being), Giuliani to probably focus on beating up Democrats (which will probably make Romney look desperate and pathetic, but might make Giuliani look unwilling to argue-- not a good thing, in my book), Romney to beat up some more, McCain to weigh is as Mr. Anti-Pork and chief Romney-taker-downer (I suspect mainly on his own behalf, but possibly also a little on Giuliani's, unwittingly, given their closeness), and then for Giuliani to really let Romney have it if he carries on (which I kind of hope he does-- just because it would be fun to watch).

Side point: Fred could get sidelined in all of this. So could Huckabee, but apart from being the lone economic populist (See: "Club for Greed" reference) on the stage, that's probably good for him. The guy carries an "F" rating on fiscal issues from CATO-- not something one would anticipate to play well with the CNBC crowd.

I seriously hope that this is the debate where Ron Paul just talks about the money and the bloat, all day long, and forces the others to get real about what they would cut, and why. This is Paul's sole purpose in debates going forward, so far as I am concerned. I hope he delivers.

I don't have any predictions as to what Brownback and Tancredo will do-- hopefully, not much, and increasingly less as time goes on. I am also baffled as to why MSNBC's debate ads all morning have been showing Alan Keyes, when so far as I am aware, he is not participating in today's debate (believe me, while I am no fan of Alan Keyes, the debate would be A LOT more entertaining with him in it).

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