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The Elephant Wars

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As autumn leaves begin to curl and school is finally and fully underway, we all know what awaits every four years. Yes, it's once again time for the GOP debates. Recently broadcast on CNBC and MSNBC, the latest debate sparked many topics and interesting points between candidates. Required to watch it for AP Government, I found it to be interesting, informative and sometimes, just plain amusing.

I don’t know if it’s just the writer in me looking for more characters to add to this endless fiction, but I found myself mostly drawn to the aesthetics of the candidates. I tried to focus beyond their stage presence, yet found myself drawn to the faces of both Mitt Romney and Huckabee. Unlike Ron Paul and other candidates, their faces were lit by their passions and their interest in what they spoke about, whereas Paul, McCain and Brownback were dead and focused on the question as if they had it written word for word on tablet paper before them.

When it comes to the candidate who seemed the Most Presidential, that award would go hands-down to Mitt Romney. Not only did he present himself as a secure and dedicated candidate, but also a humble example of a considerate debate partner. While he and Giuliani had their heart-to-heart choke fest over taxes and tax cuts, he referred to his potential political agenda as being “the President’s job” not “My job”. He was prepared with his answers, maintaining humility while still giving himself credit where credit was due. There was no presumption that he would win the race, just a mild-mannered interest in the affairs of the United States and his colleague’s responses. While I like him as a candidate, he has an attitude about him that is washed over by his humble outer shell. I can't really place just exactly what made me uneasy about him, but I still believe that he has his act together. Perhaps one of the reasons is because of his flip-flopping John Kerry nature. Three years ago, he supported such liberal issues as Pro-Choice causes. Now that he's a candidate, his loyalties have swung right again. And of course, we mustn't forget his support of the line item veto (deemed unconstitutional)… 844 TIMES!

I was torn between McCain and Thompson as the second place Most Presidential winners. Thompson sometimes fumbled over his words at the beginning, unsure of exactly his goals, but he did have some excellent points (like the war and global terrorist policy). He reminded me of the “old” presidents, like Ford or Ike, simply by his presence. Let's be honest, you have to applaud Thompson. Many celebrities (no denying it, before the political race began, he was just that) decide that the spotlight is how they will spend their time, no matter what other obligations may call them. Thompson was first and foremost a genius for spending the first debate on Jay Leno. How much did we see of the debate versus his appearance on the talk show and his late decision to run? He took over the news! But now, even though he could continue to splinter away from the Republican pack, he is merging in as he should. I give Mr. Thompson a standing ovation just for that.

When it comes to McCain, I wasn't that impressed. While he has the experience as a renowned leader in the Navy, he also is too easily driven by only personal conviction. He made most of his effort in noting what the current President should have done… He focused too much on the past and past actions rather than commenting on them and then focusing on the issue of the future and what he would change.  He had this cold attitude and seemed somewhat snobbish in his overall presentation. He doesn’t like to beat around the bush (no pun intended). To add to that, he is also half deaf, missing much of the questions. While once he may have made a decent candidate, he is past his prime.

And then, there's Ron Paul. I don't even want to get started on Ron Paul. We’d be here for hours. To begin, he didn't have much to say, or, at least nothing very new. When he does speak, it's not for long, it's more libertarian than conservative and it's only an assessment of what he thinks the country is coming to. What's his action plan? I have no clue, I couldn't tell from the debate. It's no wonder he's number seven in the ranks. "Dr. No" struck a capital N-O with me.

On the complete polar side of the party, I really, REALLY like Huckabee. I pity him because he lacks the forceful drive of Giuliani, but in a way, that would ruin his softer character. To his defense, what he lacks in punch he makes up for in purpose. He always has something to say, even if just a witty commentary in opening a question. He knows what must be done. In some ways, he is a non-dictatorial, non-Argentinean Juan Peron in his willingness to roll up his sleeves for the American people.

I know the personal pain of watching my parents struggle over how they are going to get me into college. Huckabee spent more time addressing the actual effects of our economy and our taxes versus simply restating how our economy is holding up. He sees and understands the issues we are facing as citizens of this country and knows that they cannot be ignored. As well, he supports the true conservative values that the party has been built on. The problem has been with the shifting of the candidates to a more moderate stance. We as a party have lost sight of our values and altered them to fit the candidates. Huckabee is set to bring them back, and I back him all the way.

Overall, I found the debate to be entertaining and very interesting. It's a pit of lions, because even though they are your party, they are your worst enemy. You can forget thinking about the other party's candidates because it is your own that will haunt you when you begin to sleep with a knife under your pillow. You can tell how they all got defensive at times, knowing that like the Miranda rights, anything you say can and will be used (either for or) against you. It was a tough debate, but the rabbit has been let go and the chase is on. Now, pit the men against one another, for until we choose the one and only, they are only restless dogs. Or, in this case, the elephants at war.

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  • Louie

    Dr Paul’s “action plan” was spelled out during the debate: follow the Constitution of the United States of America. Perhaps you’ll get a chance to read it in AP Government and compare it with the candidates’ positions. You may discover he’s a lot closer to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in his political views than some of the other candidates.

  • Ray

    I disagree with you about Romney. Romney seems very fake to me. Huckabee isn’t fake, but he is wrong on the campaign of fear, and preemptive war. Ron Paul is the clear, Constitutional, conservative choice.

  • http://DonH Don Hannaford

    Perhaps Ron Paul had a lot to say even though he was given the least time.

  • http://BigMike Mike Lipka

    Candidate # of Words % of Candidate Total
    Mitt Romney 1357 22.8
    Rudy Giuliani 1091 18.3
    John McCain 781 13.1
    Fred Thompson 728 12.2
    Mike Huckabee
    445 7.5
    Duncan Hunter 431 7.2
    Tom Tancredo 401 6.7
    Sam Brownback 387 6.5
    Ron Paul 343 5.8

    The top tier candidates according to the latest national polls dominated the debate. Summing up the total number of words spoken by Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson, you would lead to 66.4% or about two-thirds of the debate.

    Each of those candidates fall in line with about where they stand in the polls and in fundraisinig. Well, except for Ron Paul. He spoke the least of all the candidates. Now, we are not going to go so far as to say he should get as much time as Romney or Giuliani — although it would be fair if all the candidates spoke the same amount of time.

    But we will claim it irresponsible of CNBC to censor Ron Paul to the point that he spoke the least of every candidate including Tancredo, Hunter, and Brownback.

    Here are the reason Ron Paul should have had more air time than Huckabee, Hunter, Tancredo, and Brownback.

    (Fundraising) Ron Paul raised $5 million dollars. This translates to REAL support and REAL people that want to hear his message. Ron Paul’s fundraising numbers were comparable to John McCain. Mike Huckabee was only able to garner about $1 million dollars.

    (Early States#1) Ron Paul is sitting at double digits among moderates in New Hampshire and and at 8% in Michigan (the state in which this debate took place). And the Republican party is doing a disservice if they try to silence the moderate voice. Read our article on “Ron Paul Surging in the Polls Among Moderates”.

    State Ron Paul
    % among Moderates
    New Hampshire 10%
    Michigan 8%
    Source:, via Link

    (Straw Polls) Ron Paul has won 15 straw polls ( nationwide, more than Huckabee, Hunter, Tancredo, Brownback combined! Heck we could even add John McCain to that list and Ron Paul would have beaten them all.

    Here is the list of straw polls that Ron Paul has won:

    Tulsa State Fair, Oklahoma
    Oregon Straw Poll- Portland, Oregon
    Gwinnett County GOP, Atlanta, Georgia
    CWA New Jersey GOP Straw Poll
    South Sound Ronald Reagan Republican Club
    Manchester, NH Straw Poll
    Maryland Straw Poll
    Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
    DeKalb County, Georgia Straw Poll
    West Alabama
    Ronald Reagan Club (Washington)
    Strafford County, NH
    Gaston County, NC
    FreedomWorks Straw Poll
    New Hampshire Taxpayers
    Fourteen of said straw polls won August or later! That suggest a surge in support.

    (Internet) Here is the traffic statistics to It is brought to you by He has more monthly visitors to his campaign website than any of the other candidates — including the top tier. The graph is going up, yet more signs of a surge.

    (Scientific Polls) There are now 8 states in which Ron Paul is averaging 3% or better over the past two months. Those states are New Hampshire (8%), Michigan (5.7%), Texas (5.0%), Arizona (5.0%), Pennsylvania (4.0%), Iowa (3.7%), South Carolina (3.0%), and Wisconsin (3.0%). Let’s see about the other candidates. Duncan Hunter – only 1. Tom Tancredo – 3. Sam Brownback – 3. If you were to sum up the lower tiered candidates of Hunter, Tancredo, and Brownback you would get 7 — it was not enough to outnumber Ron Paul was it?

    (Early States #2) In summary , Ron Paul is the only candidate of these “lower tiered candidates” to average more than 3.0% in the Top 3 states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. And his fundraising numbers were good enough to launch him into top tier status. So why does such a candidate get the least amount of speaking time?

    Romney spoke almost 4 times as much as Ron Paul.

    The biggest evidence of such blatant censorship of Ron Paul came when Rudy Giuliani challenged Ron Paul by name saying “Where was he on 9/11?”. Ron Paul would have wanted to rebut that to say that no country had attacked us. When a candidate is addressed by name it is only common courtesy to give him time for a rebuttal. Nope, they did not even give him the courtesy of standing amongst the candidates — always at the edge and having the least amount of speaking time.

    Help Me Donate to Ron Paul

  • Fluffy

    Look, it’s OK that you have a mancrush on Romney, but we really should pick the President based on more than your desire to fellate Mr. Handsome.

    That’s all you neocon scum have left – a pathetic attempt at scrounging up a candidate like it’s a casting call. Well, it doesn’t matter. The Romneybot isn’t going to be President, that doddering old fool McCain threw away his chance to be President when he threw away a lifetime of honor to carry water for the Bush administration, and Thompson has nothing to say and truly exists solely as an image from a television rerun.

  • Paul

    It’s not Ron Paul’s fault that he is given the least amount of time to speak at these “Rudy McRompson” shows.

  • Glen

    If Ron Paul lacks passion than I don’t know what debate you were watching. Maybe Romney’s lawyers advised him to look passionate.

  • Garrett

    I won’t comment on the fact that you are a high school student except to say that it’s admirable that you’ve taken an interest in political issues and are reasonably literate in your reporting. That said, it is my assertion that your conclusions are shallow and ill-informed.

    Some of it, of course, is a matter of opinion.

    “Unlike Ron Paul and other candidates, their faces were lit by their passions”

    That’s humorous, as Ron Paul had the most passion I’ve seen of anyone on that stage. Maybe Mike Huckabee scores for “compassion”. As Bill Maher said regarding the debate, “…Ron Paul gets up and it’s like a Twilight Zone episode. There’s one sane man left in the world.” Paul was the only candidate on stage to stand up for the supreme document of the land… The U.S. Constitution. Clearly that legal masterpiece should be a covered topic in an AP Government class. Paul is an expert on Constitutional government and monetary policy.

    If you complain that Ron Paul did not inform you as to much of his policy, you can credit that to CNBC, which as is typical gave him less question and response time than any other candidate. His views are quite clear and easy to research. As one in high school with a long future to think about, I would think you might find the incentive to dig deeper politically than who acts “Most Presidential”.

    Perhaps you might want to research what such candidates would do to actually address concerns of the voting public, such as our involvement in unending preemptive foreign conflicts, the ballooning national debt and its effect on our economic solvency, the rapid erosion of civil liberties and of course, there’s the Real ID act and the North American Union to worry about as well.

    I think that given some deeper perspective into what the candidates’ actual stances beyond rhetoric and a look at their voting record might change your idea of who is the best candidate for the highest office in the land.

    Any candidate who is a member of the CFR, for example, is not likely to be honest with the public. That includes every candidate on stage except for Dr. Paul. He’s called “Dr. No,” by the way, because he never votes for any legislation which is not expressly permitted by the Constitution. You know, like the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, tax increases, pretty much everything the neoconservatives (i.e. every other candidate on the stage) have pushed for. He is the most conservative member of Congress and the only true conservative on the stage. He is also the only candidate to have real grassroots support from real small-government conservatives.

    Do the research and stop judging the primary contest like American Idol. Google and YouTube are marvels of modern technology, particularly when it comes to pulling the wool off your eyes.

  • Dave Nalle

    Hannah, don’t let the PaulBots discourage you. Everyone has to deal with them when they write on the election or the debates.

    The fact is that aside from in the minds of those who are his followers, Paul isn’t terribly engaging when speaking. He’s shrill and seems bitter and angry and it doesn’t come off well. On paper he’s a lot better and he does have a very important message, but he really doesn’t hold up well in the debates.

    It’s not because he has less time. That has more to do with his style than some sort of conspiracy. In other debates he’s had a lot more time, and he always gets his share of opportunities – he just doesn’t use them as well.

    I agree that Huckabee comes off very, very well. He’s extremely personable and articulate. If he wasn’t a complete religious nutjob I think he’d be a viable candidate.


  • Craig

    If you want a better impression of Ron Paul than the few minutes he is given in the debates, watch some of his speeches on YouTube. The audience reaction is amazing.

    Mitt Romney most presidential? I thought he comes across as the most phony.

  • Garrett

    “The fact is that aside from in the minds of those who are his followers, Paul isn’t terribly engaging when speaking. He’s shrill and seems bitter and angry and it doesn’t come off well.”

    I’d be bitter too if I saw the country I loved being taken over by world government fascists and communists. Tell me you’ve actually researched what these candidates really stand for. Didn’t think so.

    “On paper he’s a lot better and he does have a very important message”

    Hold that thought. That’s wonderful. We’ll just stop there and let people investigate the years of his essays, books and speech transcripts so they get the important message that NO ONE ELSE is saying.

    “It’s not because he has less time. That has more to do with his style than some sort of conspiracy. In other debates he’s had a lot more time, and he always gets his share of opportunities – he just doesn’t use them as well.”

    That’s just not true. Have you checked the facts? He’s had less time than most other candidates at ALL of the Republican debates. In this one, he was allowed the least speaking time of all of them. Note that he speaks quickly because he knows the moderators are always trying to cut him off quickly. The one man on the stage who makes real points and not empty “I feel your pain” rhetoric and he doesn’t get to speak long enough to express his views. The one doctor on the stage and no one asks him health care questions. The only expert on economics on the stage and he never gets real economics questions. No, it’s obviously his lack of communication skills. Right.

    “I agree that Huckabee comes off very, very well. He’s extremely personable and articulate. If he wasn’t a complete religious nutjob…”

    ..and a CFR member… and if his talking points weren’t just more feel good nonsense that sounds straight out of his weekly congregation. The facts of his record as governor prove he’s full of hot air. He has a consistent record… of raising taxes, increasing the size of government and supporting managed trade plans like NAFTA. He’s as conservative as previous Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.

    Remember, choosing the lesser of two evils… is still choosing evil!

  • Dave Nalle

    Garrett. You are a walking example of one of the main things holding back the Paul campaign. If you keep spouting the uninformed conspiracist bullshit about the CFR people are going to start discounting your opinion and that of Dr. Paul by association.

    Yes, there’s a real problem with international progressives trying to degrade US sovereignty, but NAFTA and the CFR are NOT the source of the problem, and the CFR is hardly the conspiratorial organization you think it is. There’s no reason at all why a CFR member can’t be a perfectly reasonable presidential candidate. The group does not set some requirement that you be a tranzi in order to join. Its membership is diverse and it has no real agenda even if some of its members do.

    As for my knowledge of Paul and the other candidates and other debates, read some of my articles on the subject. I think I’ve got a handle on these issues – and a far more realistic take on Paul than you have.


  • Garrett

    NAFTA is an example of the negative effect of managed trade that will become much worse with the Security and Prosperity Partnership…

    It’s not conspiratorial when the goals of those involved with said organization are quite clear and easily researchable. If you don’t want to blame the organization, fine. Association with such an organization, however, will lead reasonable persons to wonder how much a candidate may be biased in a certain direction. Funny that all of the candidates who are CFR members have an almost universal world view, including Democrats yet those who are not members (Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel) do not. Accepting the lobby of organizations like AIPAC would be a similar conflict of interest.

    You didn’t defend against my points on Huckabee. In fact, all of the candidates on the stage except Ron Paul are neoconservatives and would, to varying degrees, merely continue the steadily destructive path this country has followed, which President George W. Bush has given a ride on the express train. That designation includes Hillary Clinton. Claiming to have a “realistic take” on Ron Paul would necessitate understanding this fact.

  • Lumpy

    Garrett is yet another of those who throws ‘neoconservative’ at anyone he doesn’t like with no idea what it actually means.

  • Edward Keithly

    It’s no wonder he’s number seven in the ranks.

    National Journal would appear to disagree with you, ranking Dr. Paul at 5.

    And I should take your ranking of him over theirs, because…???

  • Clavos

    7 or 5; still not a top tier contender….

  • bliffle

    I saw Paul on Newshour and thought he was flat and dull. No ideas and little initiative.

  • Emily

    What happened to decency? Morality?

    Shame on some of you, especially poster #5, the vulgarity is bad enough, but directing it at a high school girl?!

    She’s obviously intelligent, a political neophyte, and as is the want of many young women, she writes in a stream of consciousness style about a political debate that is sweetly endearing. To lambast this girl shows a terrible lack of judgment and common decency.

  • Baronius

    Hannah, I didn’t see the debate, but this is a solid review. If you’re a new writer on Blogcritics, I wish you joy among the loud and the snobby.

  • sea

    People shouldnt get worked up on a blog with an opinion from a High School Student. Everyone is entitled to thier opinion its what makes us unique as individuals. Ron Paul might sound dull to some and flat to others. Its not Ron Paul you should be looking at rather the message he talks about. He is a true believer in individual liberty which means he wants to see all of us protected under the rule of law ie Following the U.S. constitution. That protects you to your right to your opinion without persecution whatever it may be.

  • Lumpy

    So often in the presidential election the presentation trumps the message and with Paul that makes him a second tier candidate no matter how good his ideas and principles are. All the good ideas in the world mean nothing if u can’t get elected.

    So back Fred and get at least some of what Paul supports and a foreign policy too.

  • Lumpy

    So often in the presidential election the presentation trumps the message and with Paul that makes him a second tier candidate no matter how good his ideas and principles are. All the good ideas in the world mean nothing if u can’t get elected.

    So back Fred and get at least some of what Paul supports and a foreign policy too.

  • RJ

    Boy, those Ron Paul supporters sure are quick to find an article about their candidate and comment on it! I have literally never seen anything like it, the kind of fervor they bring to the political table. Makes the Howard Dean of 2003-2004 look like a nonentity, in comparison.

  • RJ

    “I saw Paul on Newshour and thought he was flat and dull. No ideas and little initiative.”

    “Dull” or bereft of ideas are not things I would say about Dr. Paul. “Unelectable” however, might be a more reasonable conclusion…

  • RJ

    “but directing it at a high school girl?!”

    If you can’t take the heat, and all that…

    Actually though, this was a pretty good article, when one considers that a 17-year old (I’m guessing) wrote it. Also, I’m glad to see that a young person can appreciate Mike Huckabee, who I believe is being highly underestimated by the MSM, and will be the GOP VP candidate in 2008…

  • Clavos

    Except for the lack of exposure it entails, being underestimated by the MSM is a good thing; it means you’re too smart for them, you speak in more than just sound bites.