January 8, 2008

Post New Hampshire

Ok, so the comeback kids won New Hampshire, and the point is? The first primary has been known to give life to otherwise floundering campaigns, but can the Live Free or Die State really have a lasting impact on the remaining primary battles? The primary did make this race an open one, on both sides. Clearly, the Dems are down to two candidates; the GOP though still has at least four viable options.

If Clinton doesn't get the democrat nod. The potential for a Hillary-less general election fight changes the entire landscape. The main motive for my early rooting interest in Rudy was his contrast against Clinton. The comparison between Obama and Rudy isn't as appealing.

Against Obama, if Barack is indeed the new front-runner for the donkeys, Rudy looks old and frail. Against the charm and charisma of Obama you need a confident and informed candidate. And with that potential battle on the horizon, Romney is starting to look like quite an interesting alternative to the shaky Giuliani.

Romney put the issue of immigration (top conservative issue after the war) out of the park on Fox's Sunday night debate; amnesty in any form is not acceptable. Second, Mitt was on target regarding changing the culture in Washington (another conservative sticking point). At last, Romney appears to be finding his voice regarding the difference between Pennsylvania avenue and the rest of us.

McCain seemed more measured Sunday night than in recent debates. Trying to appear stoic and carefully avoiding anything which would jeopardize his recent rise in the polls. However, the fake smile always reminds me of campaign finance reform, and because of that image, he could walk on water and I'd never notice. Independents however, still like the "maverick" and clearly turned to him rather than getting sucked into the Obama wave.

I never bought into the Huckster's rise, having seen many Iowa winners fade quickly once the more-liberal New Hampshire voters had their say. Once I peeled back some layers on Huckabee, it wasn't hard to find some major flaws in his campaign. Primarily, the evangelical wing of the conservative movement that Mike represents, is too single-issue-focused for my taste.

I have to admit, I underestimated Mitt's talent and focus. His broad business knowledge, his record in turning around the Olympics, and his ability to think on his feet, maintaining big-picture thinking during the heat of a debate (something Bush never possessed), all are making me reconsider his candidacy. His reference to China as a competitor to the US, shows he's tuned into the global marketplace (whether we like globalization or not) and its changing influence in our economy.

For now I remain undecided, not impressed by McCain's New Hampshire win. Hillary seems to have new life, though the crying moment seemed pathetic and weak. Romney needs to win one of the next few primaries, before Rudy's game plan starts to take hold. Obama hasn't fully captured the moment, yet. His inability to capture the independents tonight could be a sign he doesn't have broad appeal. (note: Why didn't NH independents turn his way? I thought they were moderate libs...hmmm) Huck, Fred and Edwards are afterthoughts.

The picture is starting to take shape, yet remains amazingly vague.

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