Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Natural State Wins Two Debates

From my vantage point, it looked like Arkansas was the big winner in the two presidential primary debates at Saint Anselm College this week.

Among the Democrats, Senator Clinton took control of much of the affair--refusing to answer inane questions is very presidential, particularly when all of your rivals fall in line behind you. As well, every time she asserted that the group was in agreement, she made it tougher for the others to gain ground on her. Very shrewd, very ... Clintonian.

Among the Republicans, it was harder to sort out who won and who lost. My libertarian leanings make me predisposed to like Congressman Paul, but he didn't come across as composed as he did in the prior debate and he suffered from a very bizarre side camera angle at times. My conservative leanings make me predisposed to like someone other than Rudy McRomney, who all fail the ideological test for various reasons. It's pretty clear that person is Governor Huckabee. It doesn't hurt that his book, From Hope to Higher Ground,is very well written, and that he actually has a solid record of achievement as the governor of Arkansas. (For more on this idea, see this earlier post.) He visited the Rockefeller Center on Sunday evening, and he absolutely charmed the 75 or so people who attended the event.

And the Governor did very well in the debate. If you don't believe me, take a look at these real-time evaluations by a focus group of debate-watchers over at MessageJury.


seansmith said...

I also attended the Huckabee event at Rocky and was very impressed, as were my friends who attended. He was very well-spoken and talked about trying to restore true conservative values to the government. However, I have problems with his record as a governor, as he increased government spending and taxes. For this reason, Cato rated him an F in 2006. Ron Paul may be the only one who can honestly say he will reduce the size of the government.

Andrew Samwick said...

In the full report (page 18), here's the rationale for the grade:

Thanks to a final term grade of F, Huckabee earns an overall grade of D for his entire governorship. Like many Republicans, his grades
dropped the longer he stayed in office. In his first few years, he fought hard for a sweeping $70 million tax cut package that was the first broad-based tax cut in the state in more than 20 years. He even signed a bill to cut the state’s 6 percent capital gains tax—a significant progrowth accomplishment. But nine days after
being reelected in 2002, he proposed a sales tax increase to cover a budget deficit caused partly by large spending increases that he proposed and approved, including an expansion in Medicare eligibility that Huckabee made a centerpiece of his 1997 agenda. He agreed to a 3 percent income tax “surcharge” and a 25-cent cigarette tax increase. In response to a court order to increase spending on education,
Huckabee proposed another sales tax increase. Huckabee wants to run for the GOP presidential
nomination next year. He’s already been hailed as a viable big-government conservative candidate by some. That seems about right:
Huckabee’s leadership has left taxpayers in Arkansas much worse off.

ona sabbatical said...

Are you bothered that Governor Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution? More broadly, in an era when the appropriate policy response to concerns about climate change is a central political issue, what role do you think candidates' views about science should play in the election?

Andrew Samwick said...

He was pretty clear in the last debate about what he believes. He believes in a Creator. As he says in the clip, he does not affirm the literal Creation story as presented in Genesis.

If he said that he did not acknowledge the validity of the theory of natural selection or the evidence that the Earth is billions of years old, then I'd be very bothered about his views.