Pre-Game for the Debate

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 03, 2007 6:58 PM

Hugh's broadcasting.

N.Z. Bear is at the Reagan Library, and taking a bunch of great pictures.

Katie and I are gonna have a little debate par-tay at my house (It's like the first kick-off of football season for political nerds!) There will be gossiping, there will be political talk, there will be nachos, and much of it will be on video, so I'll try to have that up quickly, as well as some written commentary.

Katie will be judging the contestants on their social conservative responses. I will be appearing very convincingly in the role the economic conservative base voter. And, both of us are interested in security, so some of that as well.

Oddly enough, if I were to read the statements from each of the three candidates' press secretaries on the message they want to communicate tonight without knowing to whom they belonged, I'd have been a McCain girl. That was a weird feeling. Here are the statements, in no particular order:

No. 1

They’ll be able to compare and contrast both his experience and his record with a lot of the other folks onstage. It will be clear that he is a very idea-based candidate. It willbecome clear that [his] record and life experiences arelargely a result of having been outside of Washington... they’ve all been outside Washington and he’s had arecord of success. It is a record that is not dependent on a lot of thestatus quo that people see in Washington.
No. 2:

What we’re hoping for is the opportunity to continue to talk aboutthe themes that [he] has been discussing over the last month,which are cutting wasteful government spending, reducing the dependenceon foreign sources of energy, talking broadly about how to stop orcombat Islamic extremists, and for him to talk about his vision and whyhe’s uniquely qualified to be president."He has the experience to do big things, and is ready to lead on Day One.
No. 3:

[He] will continue to talk about his vision for the future. Voterswill continue to see someone who is a very optimistic person, who is astrong leader with a very clear view of where he wants to take theUnited States.

He’s looking forward to the debate, and thinks it’ll be part of anongoing dialogue with Republican primary voters about why he believeshe is the best fit to be the next President.

Can you guess who's who? Answers and analysis after the jump![# More #]

No. 1: Romney
No. 2: McCain
No. 3: Rudy
No. 1 leaves me thinking, "idea-based, huh? Why didn't you throw any into this here statement?" but overall it's not bad. The outsider message is a good one these days, but Romney's not the only outsider. In fact, there's a more charismatic outsider on the stage with him.

No. 2, surprisingly, hits most of the things I most care about without sounding vapid or turning me off. Now, the fact that it's John McCain's camp that said those things means he'll have to go a long way toward making up for McCain-Feingold and the opposition to the tax cuts to win me over, but not a bad start. Judging by statements alone, he'd have been my guy.

No. 3 is too shallow, and it uses the word "dialogue" in such a way that, while, not the most grating way it can be used, is fairly grating. "Dialogue" and "conversation" are so Clintonesque these days. She claimed them. They're tainted. Rudy has a clear view, the statement says, but I don't see anything really clear in the statement.

But the candidates will soon speak for themselves, and we shall see what substance comes out of it. Sadly, probably less than we would hope, since each candidate will get about 9 minutes of talk time.

Any bets on whether Chris Matthews will ask a Rosie O'Donnell question?