The New Hampshire Presidential Debates are underway. Finally, a format that will make some news. I doubt the national writers will rip on this one the way they complained on the format the Des Moines Register mandated for the last one. That said, my impressions...
John McCain--sat quietly for much of the beginning. Hesitant to make a mistake? Or content to watch while the others beat up on Romney? He did land a few zingers on Romney, one of which was that Romney could spend his whole fortune on negative ads and it wouldn't change the facts. Ouch.
Fred Thompson--seemed like he had his friend, McCain's back. Is Thompson about ready to bail out of this race yet? He seemed to give rather odd comments on his future behind the Caucuses ended, particularly one interview I saw with NBC's Tim Russert.
Ron Paul--felt the heat from nearly everyone on stage at one point or another, particularly on monetary and foreign policy matters. He compared himself to Obama on how he brings out young people to this race.
Mitt Romney--hope he has a soft chair on which to sit tonight, because the others sure seemed to try to kick his butt throughout. Are they trying to knock him out for good, hoping he'll drop out with a second or worse finish in New Hampshire Tuesday? He looked visibly uncomfortable when others came hard after him.
Mike Huckabee--definitely did not seem to have a target on his forehead as the front runner after his Iowa Caucus win. Perhaps, that's because he's way down in the polls in New Hampshire. Notice how he stuck up for change (and complemented Obama). Is Huckabee trying to be the Obama equivalent for his party? Does this show that more Republicans are down on the President than the Party wants to admit?
Rudy Giuliani--not nearly as active in the discussion as some others. Seems content to not do much in New Hampshire, as he did during the latter part of Iowa. Florida is a ways away. Good luck with that strategy, Mr. Mayor.
Pretty cool moment to have the candidates from both parties take the stage together between the Republican half of the debate and the Democratic half. It made for good tv. This is a good debate so far.
John Edwards--looks tired, at least at the beginning. Talked about being the change guy, along with Obama. Came after Clinton. Seems to be very friendly with Obama. Is he content with a second place finish in New Hampshire, as long as Clinton is third? Again.
Barack Obama--looks rested, albeit hoarse. Stumbled when Charlie Gibson tells him lobbyists can buy meals for members of Congress as long as they're standing up.
Bill Richardson--can a man be called "frumpy"? He always seems to be a bit askew. This time it's his tie. Urged the others to keep this positive. Talked about that when New Mexican service people die in war, he puts flags at "half mast". I'm assuming he means "half staff", unless he only drops the flags on boats.
Hillary Clinton--looks tired. I see Chelsea in the crowd. Why is Bill not there? Is this part of the new strategy to show "change"? No more shots on stage of Hillary with Bill and Madeleine Albright and others from the past. Looked genuinely hurt when the New Hampshire reporter told her that people like Edwards and Obama more. She seemed like it knocked her off her game for a bit. She looked mad a few times (I suppose her supporters would say "passionate").
Good show. And good night.