Des Moines Register GOP Debate Flops

Posted: Dec 12, 2007 4:14 PM
Des Moines Register GOP Debate Flops

The last Republican presidential debate before the January 3 Iowa caucus, hosted by the Des Moines Register, failed to generate any sparks between the candidates, frustrating event watchers.

Complaints about the debate that ranged from the selection of questions to the decision to allow long-shot presidential candidate Alan Keyes participate to its low-budget appearance.

Townhall editor Jonathan Garthwaite wrote, “Best moment of the debate: 3:17 when the debate ended.

Moderator Carolyn Washburn, editor of the Des Moines Register, opened the debate by telling the candidates she would not ask questions about Iraq or immigration because it they were not issues Iowans needed to know more about.

“We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq or immigration,” she said. “They’re important issues, no doubt, but Iowans say they know where the candidates are coming from on those.”

Instead of generating fiery exchanges between the candidates, Washburn got herself into a tangle with Fred Thompson. At one point, Washburn asked for a “show of hands” on whether or not the candidates believed “global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity.”

“I’m not doing handshows,” Thompson said.

She replied back “does that mean yes or no?”

“Are you going to give me a minute to answer that?” Thompson asked.

“No, I’m not,” Washburn said.

“Well, I’m not going to answer” Thompson said to scattered applause.

The debate lacked frills, as seen in the CNN/YouTube debate that featured user-generated questions submitted in videos or any high-profile media personalities like Anderson Cooper, and cast the candidates against a sparse black background. Some gritty interview footage was used to break up questions that the New York Times blogged “makes the candidates look like they are prisoners under interrogation.”

The debate will air again on CSPAN-3 Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. and the Des Moines Register will host a similar debate for Democratic presidential candidates tomorrow.

It is also accessible on