I enjoyed watching both, but I don't think that the debates have swayed me much in terms of who I think I am already going to be voting for.
On the Republican side, I think most would indeed, carry on the legacy of the Bush administration.I think this is especially true of Rudy Giuliani...who's entire arguments last night continued to bring mention of Ronald Reagan (a greater man than George W. Bush could ever hope to be). I think the same is true of John McCain. Although the man has some honorable stances, I don't think he will go on to win the Republican party's nomination, and if he did...I am not sure I could vote for him. I just can't abide the idea of maintaining the status quo in Washington. And...McCain's ideas regarding illegal immigration really DO smack of Amnesty no matter how one looks at it. If the illegals are not deported...even if they have to pay a fine or whatever...it's a slap on the wrist. It's not what's "Right."
I can't see Fred Thompson being anything more than the lackey of the oil industry. He is definitely the friend of big business, corporate greed...and yeah...he's the "Man", that so many want to damn. The same is true of Mitt Romney...although Romney is definitely more suave than Thompson.
Out of all the Republicans, I found myself drawn to Mike Huckabee and to Ron Paul. Huckabee was the most succinct and eloquent of all the Republican contenders last night. I thought his ideas held some very real merit.
Ron Paul has something just about everyone could like. The liberals would love his "Lets withdraw from Iraq immediately...lets get out of that war." Libertarians (Like myself), would love the idea of "Lets return the American central government to a rigid adherence to the Constitution...and lets end so many of these Welfare State programs that are going on.) After all, those things ought not to be the responsibility of the government.
Things like pregnancy counceling clinics, soup kitchens, community job searches...all these things ought to be the responsibility of faith based communities. You want something good for your community? Get out there and live your faith and see what sort of changes can be made! That's YOUR responsibility...not that of the central government.
Republicans can like the fact that Ron Paul is fiscally conservative and fights governmental waste and overspending.
See? Something to like for everyone.
I'm leaning toward Ron Paul.
On the Democratic side...
Wow. Bill Richardson should have stayed off the stage. His was just a lot of NOT answering Charlie Gibson's questions, but rambling on about "It's Kids! It's being kind to your neighbor! It's Reducing carbon dioxide emmissions!" Yikes...no plan given whatsoever. To be fair, he was right when he mentioned that he was the only one on the platform among the Democratic candidates who had balanced a budget....
John Edwards was right. Hillary would be nothing more than a repeat of her husband's presidency. She is the Democratic status quo...the Democratic dinosaur. Of course, I personally think she is screamingly to the left of Bill.
To be fair to her as well though, she had some valid points, and hers was the only somewhat sensible take I heard when it came to foreign policy. Sadly, I know how she stands on the issues of Israel. I seem to remember her kissing Yassir Arafat's wife..and bemoaning the plight of the poor "Palestinians".
Though a Democrat...she would certainly carry on Bush's plan of a Two State solution to the problems in the Middle East. (Hey! Two States in the Biblical heartland will cause PEACE to well up among the Sunnis and Shi'ites fighting in Iraq! Cause don't you know...the Jews are the reason they are fighting each other.)
Barack Obama looked completely incompetent when it came to foreign policy to me. He never clearly answered Charlie Gibson's questions and when it comes down to it...if defending the country against Nuclear terrorism...the man would do just like Bush has done....if Musharraf didn't fit in or comply with American demands to help in the "War on Terror", the Obama would go in guns blazing. Of course, that's not until after he talked to Musharraff first...as if that's any different from what Bush has done in the past.
I liked John Edwards the best out of the Democratic candidates. But while I am sure he really "feels" for the American middle class, and it's super personal for him, (and to be fair here, I actually believe him), I didn't see any clear plan from him either.
Now, the debates are an aweful place to lay out detailed plans. So going to the candidates web sites and taking a look at how they stand on the issues is really, to me, the best way to figure out whether they line up with your own beliefs and stances.
If I were calling winners I would say:
Mike Huckabee wins Republican debate.
John Edwards comes on strong and wins Democratic debate.