Mitt Romney was the winner by a large margin in the GOP presidential debate tonight on MSNBC. Not only did he give the most coherent answers, his presentation was superior to other candidates. And, he probably is less familiar to voters than John McCain or Rudy Giuliani, so I'm sure some people were seeing him for the first time.
McCain was good at times, but started out overcompensating for his bland delivery by almost whipping himself into a seizure. Giuliani gave what I thought was best answer of the nightâ€”his defense of President Bush's war on terror and how history will judge it kindly. Overall, however, Rudy had to spend most of his time answering social questions, where he is on shakier ground with the base.
None of the lesser candidates emerged forcefully. Most of them ought to go home now.
Big loser of the evening was MSNBC. Host Chris Matthews and Politico.com reporters asked questions that mostly came from left wing talking points, or were inane, like the one about single mothers in prison. A few partisan questions are OK, but not 80 percent. It was clear the journalists wanted to steer them off ground they believed Republicans are strongâ€”war on terrorâ€”and onto social questions that divide the party.
This was a sharp contrast to last week's Democratic debate where MSNBC asked mostly questions aimed at bashing Bush. The analysis afterwards was hard to take seriously with a panel of absolute demogogues like Keith Olbermann trying to pretend they are objective. MSNBC is far more biased than Fox, yet Democrats won't appear on a Fox-sponsored debate. If Brit Hume and Chris Wallace were asking the questions tonight, we all would have learned a lot more.