January 31st, 2008
07:34 AM ET
10 years ago

Schneider: The night's big winner: Huckabee

 Huckabee performed well, Schneider says.

Huckabee performed well, Schneider says.

Huckabee, I think, stood out in this debate as the one who made sense, talked as ordinary people do, and rose above politics. They may have scored. He connected. And that’s a problem for Romney, who would like to become the alternative to John McCain among conservatives who oppose the Arizona senator. But he has very tough competition from Huckabee, who’s forcing people to re-think his run at a time when he was supposed to be out of the game.

But this has always been the way he’s worked: Romney uses money to stay competitive. Huckabee has debates.

I don’t think McCain made many gains – and I think he may have caused people to re-think the race. I don’t think this was his strongest night, not because he was under attack. But because he wasn’t a straight talker. He talked very much like a politician. He was making a lot of charges at Romney – some of which, like the timetable charge, seemed very questionable.

A couple of Romney’s answers were quite good, particularly on the Iraq timetables issue. I don’t think he did himself any harm. But I think the one who really helped himself was Huckabee.

All in all: Huckabee gained ground, McCain probably lost ground, and Romney didn’t help or hurt himself – although he did effectively defend himself. McCain sounded petty – and that’s not the McCain voters know and like.

But to the extent that Huckabee may have made any gains from his performance, Romney’s got bigger worries out of tonight than the Arizona senator.

- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

Filed under: Bill Schneider
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. chad

    WHATS THE DIFFERENCE....they all favor tax breaks for the rich, promise everthing and deliver nothing. republicans are bankrupting our nation. at least democrats tax the rich, gop always does the "debt and spend" approach.

    January 31, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  2. billy10


    I appreciate your honesty in this article. I think Huckabee did stand out in this debate. It's to bad that A.C. and CNN wasn't fair in their allocation of time. Huckabee got about 1 minute to each 5 minutes Romney and McCain got.

    Why is CNN always so biased in these debates. Than again you don't claim to be the FAIR AND BALANCED NETWORK do you. It shows.

    January 31, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  3. Kate

    I agree 100%! Gov. Huckabee sounded like an adult speaking to other adults. He was calm and stuck to the points. Both Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney sounded like two children fighting in the sandbox! And I am seriously concerned about who to vote for – we don't need a two year old in the White House.

    January 31, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  4. Eve

    I agree that Huckabee did a good job last night, but I think it was TOTALLY DEPLORABLE and unacceptable and BIASED on how the moderators treated Huckabee annd Ron Paul. The blatant EXCLUSION of these two intelligent FINE men was disgusting and Anderson Cooper should LOSE HIS JOB. Anderson was downright RUDE cutting Ron Paul off and promising him more time to speak, then not allowing him to do so. I was a total Huckabee fan, but Anderson Cooper has MADE me go and research Ron Paul. I felt there had to be some reason he was being IGNORED. I LOVE what I am reading and will now vote For Ron Paul. He is BRILLIANT and is TELLING THE TRUTH, not just tooting his own horn like Romney and McCain. THEY ACTED LIKE TWO SPOILED CHILDREN LAST NIGHT>>>IT WAS DIGUSTING

    January 31, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Paul Thompson

    He is a proven leader with a Great Vision....but he actually believes that God isn't just a vending machine...that we just sit in the corner until we want something. And all the candidates believe in God...so please no anti-Christian bigitry.

    Our spoiled nation might not be able to accept that.

    January 31, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. Roy4Huck

    Republicans have a candidate who can win in November. Mike Huckabee is not an "alternative" candidate to McCain or Romney. He is the real leader who you can vote with conviction as the best man to be President. Study his platform and listen to his speeches available on his website and YouTube. You'll scratch your head wondering why the Republicans have not embraced him as their standard bearer from the beginning. If America is thirsty for another Reagan, Mike Huckabee is the man. He's principled, optimistic, and speaks eloquently from his heart of the greatness that the future holds for our great land. Super Tuesday voters listen up. Vote for Mike Huckabee!

    January 31, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. garon king

    Shame. In such a bias, debacle there can be no clear choice. The disgusting bias shown by CNN and Anderson Cooper dealt a serious blow to the delicate nature of Democracy and free society in America. Shame.

    January 31, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  8. Sue, Michigan

    I'm a Democrat, and I like Mike Huckabee, while I feel McCain is too embeded in the war, and I'm not sure I trust the too-smooth Romney. If it came down to it, I could vote for Huckabee.

    January 31, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  9. Jerry

    McCains straight talking express had a big accident. He didn't tell the truth.

    January 31, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  10. Why Bother

    Hey Schneider, you can have any opinion you want about how the candidates did at the debate last night, but have the decency to report on all of them. Not one word about Ron Paul in this entire piece. It's easier to ignore a candidate when there are ten of them onstage, all fighting for the spotlight. There are only four candidates left on the GOP side now, so how about some responsible reporting?

    January 31, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  11. Gary

    Cooper presided over the Mitt & John (dog and pony show). I refuse to watch any segment that cooper is involved in after this. There were 4 candidates at the debate but we saw very little of two of them. This was unfair to all voters. We need the views of all the candidates to make an informed decision on who we will have lead this country. Who do we want with their finger on the weapons button.

    January 31, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  12. Jennifer Merica

    Great write-up...however, I am shocked to say the least! Shame on CNN for already selecting their final 2. That is certainly how it appeared last night. I cannot begin to tell you what a disappointment last night's debate was. Worst one to date! I have never seen anything so two-sided in my life. I know you all are as far left as it gets, but come on, I felt like I was watching a Democratic debate last night. Hate to bust your bubble CNN,but the Republican race is still wide open. So as an American, I beg of you to please do the right thing...show all sides and allow the American people to see,that there are BETTER options out there...not just the crummy ones that CNN presents to you. Honestly, you all should have to reimburse Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul for even being there. Oh and next time you host a debate(let us only hope that never happens), maybe you should have a moderator that can actually control the situation. It was rather sad watching your boy, Cooper Anderson, lose control numerous times during his own debate! Fine job CNN-you should be ashamed! Kudos to Governor Huckabee for showing us all what true grace really is!

    January 31, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  13. Jonathan, Florida


    If anyone has watched the debates and LISTENED to what the candidates are saying rather than :30 second commercials and soundbites. Gov. Huckabee is the people's best choice!

    To Senator McCain. I am all for working together in Washington. But NOT on crushing my 1st Amendment rights (McCain-Feingold) or allowing amnesty (McCain-Kennedy) or continuing to allow filibustering of justices (the 'gang' of 14) and not in voting against the Pres. Bush tax cuts (twice) and not to mention the death tax.

    And Gov. Romney? Why did you not run for reelection? At least the folks for Huckabee and McCain kept sending them back to office!

    Come on Super Tuesday states! Deliver the boost Huckabee needs!

    January 31, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  14. C. Marie

    Why McCain is sticking to this Romney-timetable crap is beyond me. He is obviouly trying to twist something and after I listened to the whole statement, it made McCain look very typical politician. I had thought McCain showed some promise in '00 but this time he comes across as a warmonger and an angry old man and a shmuck And as I posted before, it is telling when a man who calls himself a leader is taking his lead from another candidate as far as the tone of his campaign. Sounds like a follower.

    January 31, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  15. Mark

    Mike Huckabee won this debate clearly! He is going to shock the pundits on Super Tuesday!!

    January 31, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  16. Robert

    Stop being biased Schneider! Romney clearly won.

    January 31, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  17. Bill B - Columbia MD

    What planet is Mr. Schneider on? Mr. Huckabee is a nice guy, very articulate. However, his candidacy is irrelevant. He's going nowhere. All Mr. McCain had to do was adequately defend himself and not mess up. He did both things well. Geesh, "the best political team on television"? Give me a break!!

    January 31, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  18. Florence

    I agree with your article and i would very much like to hear more from Mike Huckabee. The debate did not help me make a decision.

    January 31, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. Jen

    Huckabee is a joke in this race!

    January 31, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  20. demos

    Mcain seeing the nomonation close is compromising his principles just to get elected and it sounds petty. I would be affraid to have one like him as a president.

    January 31, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  21. Happy Joe

    I disagree. I think Mitt Romney is easily the strongest candidate.

    Go Mitt!

    January 31, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  22. Paul

    I am a huge McCain supporter and I agree that Huckabee looked liked the strongest candidate following this debate. The primary issue is whether or not he is too far behind to make a big push. I am definitely rethinking my choice following this debate.

    January 31, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  23. len

    Hey fellows.... there were four guys there last night and CNN showed how inept they are at hosting a real debate between folks of some what differing views. I didn't give much attention to Ron Paul until he started telling the truth last night. That's probably why AC didn't allow him to speak a lot. You guys really dropped the ball. Don't insult us American people who want to hear from all the candidates... not just those who you have annointed ....Take one minute an dlisten to Paul and then decide

    January 31, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. Anthony Onorato

    I think the debate last night revealed that Mike Huckabee should be taken seriously as a front runner in this Presidential race. He is sensible, patient, and a great communicator. His record in Arkansas makes the case for someone who truly knows how to run a government and has proven results of being one who can get things accomplished.
    John McCain's slogan is "straight talk", but I don't think the Senator always talks straight. Mit Romney is a great business man, but I think he will always be a victim of his changing of positions. I think the way he has spent money during his campaign when compared with the results that spending has achieved proves that he may not be as good of a fiscal steward of the peoples money as one might think.
    Huckabee should be taken seriously as one who has done very well in these debates even though he is not given near the time to speak as the other front runners. Message over money. His response at the closing regarding Reagan's endorsement was by far the most humble, yet revealed his solid understanding of President Reagan's legacy and his guiding principles that made him arguably the greatest President in modern history. I think I saw tears in Nancy Reagans eyes as Mike spoke. Huckabee is the overlooked true Reagan conservative in this race.
    The GOP base will make a huge mistake if they overlook Governor Huckabee.
    P.S.- He is the only one running who has run against the Clinton machine more than once and won!

    January 31, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. Brian Romasky

    What about the ever ignored Ron Paul? He was there, too, you know. I would like to hear opinions on all of the candidates, not just the "front runners". As stated by the CNN poll on the front page, 35% of voters are still undecided. Undecided voters who chose at the last moment are more likely to pick a name they hear often. What names do I hear often? (In order of frequency) Romney, Huckabee, McCain, Giuliani, Paul. It would be ignorant to suggest that the overwhelming coverage of the first three candidates does not swing undecided votes in their favor. So, please, consider a more balanced representation. I understand that this is a debate recap, and Bill Schneider is simply summarizing the "highlights". However, if you are willing to comment on the downfalls of one candidate's performance, then there is plenty of reason to acknowledge the successes of another.

    January 31, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10