The Dearborn Identity
Yesterday’s Republican presidential debate in Dearborn, Michigan, provided an informative glimpse into the future economic identity of the Republican Party. One could argue that it sounds a lot like the current economic identity of the Republican Party, as leading candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson all touched on familiar Republican themes of lower taxes, fiscal restraint, entitlement reform, and a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned optimism.
There was a fascinating subtext to this economic discourse, however, as several other candidates including, Mike Huckabee (sounding a lot like John Edwards), Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter provided sharp populist and protectionist counterpoints to those themes, perspectives which, if reflected by sufficient numbers of voters in November, could spell real trouble for the party. John McCain underscored this tension within the party, with his familiar riffs on fiscal irresponsibility, ethics, and voter mistrust.
Thompson’s debut, while not a stellar performance, was certainly solid enough to make him a legitimate contender for the nomination. As I suggested in an earlier post, Thompson spoke largely in generalities, noting the need to “do some things differently,” and to look at “the bigger picture.” With a bit more seasoning on the campaign trail, Thompson could potentially use this rhetorical style to lay claim to “the vision thing,” but he is not there yet.
As I also noted in my earlier post, Giuliani and Romney did indeed escalate their skirmish over the tax pledge, line item veto, and respective fiscal records. Although Giuliani seemed to get in the last word this time around, the exchange largely ended in the sort of “he said, he said” standoff that often results when candidates come to a debate armed with canned statistics designed to cast their records in the most favorable light.  Both candidates were very comfortable at the podium, fine-tuned from months on the campaign trail, although my guess is that Romney would likely rescind his “lawyers” comment on Iran, if given the chance.


Posted On: 10-10-2007 13:43:08 by JK from NY
Do you really think that Thompson can be a "legitimate contender for the nomination"? He generally seemed uninspired and outclassed last night, despite exceeding the very low expectations set for him. I have a hard time believing that he can seriously challenge Giuliani or Romney.

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