You can see my notes on the 30 January Republican debate as I took them while watching the debate, if you like. They’re organized so that a quick note about the question asked heads each small section, followed by an indented list of the names of the candidate asked to respond in the order they responded, and for each candidates there is sometimes a note about how the response went.
Here’s the quick run-down on my impressions, though:
Mitt Romney and John McCain made asses of themselves bickering over who did or didn’t say what. They spent more than half the two hour debate alternating between sniping at each other like passive-aggressive faddish Britney Spears fans and bickering like rabid chickens. Any time Ron Paul spoke, they appeared to compete with one another over who could adopt the most derisive, smug expression, as if they just wanted to demonstrate that they knew it didn’t matter that Dr. Paul was right — because he wouldn’t get enough face time to actually get the point out.
Ron Paul probably got about six minutes’ talking time, total. He was ignored and marginalized. He also managed to make more statements that elicited applause than anyone else, and actually got voluble cheers twice in one short segment. He was the only candidate who actually got cut off entirely in mid-sentence and had the focus forcefully dragged away from him, and it happened more than once. In one case, that happened after about fifteen seconds when other candidates had been to ramble on about the same question effectively until they ran out of breath if they wanted to.
Huckabee got ignored quite a lot, too — but probably got three times as much face time as Ron Paul. He was obviously and unabashedly frustrated with this, and chastised Anderson Cooper and the other moderators for ignoring him and Paul, and for effectively lying about the face time they would give him.
In terms of making good, eloquent points, coming off well, and politely poking other candidates (McCain and Romney, specifically) where it hurts, Huckabee was the clear winner of this debate. Ron Paul might have given him a run for his money if the moderators had allowed him to have more than (literally) one or two opportunities to actually say something substantive.
The more I see of Huckabee in debates, the more I respect the man. He’s obviously intelligent, appears to be a straight shooter, and carries himself well on-screen. I think he’s probably about 60-70% right about the issues. I found myself feeling almost like cheering him a couple of times. Unfortunately, the 30-40% of his bad policy positions are shooting offenses — so Ron Paul’s in no danger of losing my support.
On the subject of the attitude other candidates take toward Ron Paul, you should check an audio clip from a radio show wherein Mitt Romney chuckles derisively at mention of Dr. Paul and the radio host loses his shit. This radio show host is my new hero. Man, he was pissed.