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)

    My Take ! Republican party is in trouble if we put Mcain and Hillary or Obama and Mc Cain. CNN has wagered on this. Mitt won this hands down. Mc Cain needs to realize that it takes much more than his previous military experience to run a country. All he keeps offering is his military service, and heroism. We need experience in leadership and leadership in all areas that are affecting the United States. Huckabee correctly sided with Mitt on their experience to govern. Senators and Congress men and ladies are out of touch with what is going on at the state level and in our country. We need someone like Mitt Romney who is going to Take some of those annual raises that congress approves for themselves and put that money to good use down in the places where its needed the most.

    January 31, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Mickey1

    Huckabee only won if you ignored Ron Paul. You pundits are so transparently funny. Let the people decide. Stop censoring the debates. YouTube is in the process of freeing the public from your propaganda. Promise.

    January 31, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Tom McGee

    McCain hurt himself, he came off to "mean-spirited". This man who claims he is a leader, is just another Washington insider. His answers about our economy, jobs, unfair trade policies, etc. always come back to Iraq? He will not build a wall, favors amnesty for illegals, welfare for illegals, all from OUR wallets, our tax dollars. Look who has announced support for McCain, ALL WASHINGTON INSIDERS who have failed their Republican base and need jobs!
    Romney and Huckabee need to unite and bring down McCain and his cronies who don't have the guts to represent us.. The American Tax payers!

    January 31, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Patty Atlanta GA

    Absolutely. Gov. Huckabee shown bright as a star leading us all to Jesus. He is smarter than any of his opponents and the only one with moral fiber. How can people be voting for McCain? Do people not know he was cheating on his wife?? That wasn't acceptable in Mr. Clinton's case and its NOT acceptable of a man even in his past.

    January 31, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. TimR

    Hard to say who won that but I would give it to Romney. Although in the Spin Room afterwards Lindsey Graham made a great case for McCain. He is a real leader who loves his country before his political career, something you can not say about Romney.

    Huckabee came across as somewhat angry about not getting time although I would agree with him, and Ron Paul made some good points as usual. I loved Huckabee's final comments about Reagan's optimism though. I hope he does well on Super Tuesday.

    January 31, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Michael Ullrich

    Mr. Schneider, no one cares what you think. Seriously if your going to declare a winner maybe you should of had a poll after the debate to back it up. Even though Ron Paul was not given a fair chance to speak I bet he would of won the vote after the debate if there would of been a poll. Even Rudy Guiliani said that Ron Paul won all the debates. Hmm why is this maybe its because he is the only one who speaks the truth and answers the questions. You can sit up there changing the subject talking about who did what and who didnt do anything you have to answer the questions and tell the people what you are going to do and how not what you have done in the past. I think it is becasue of that Ron Paul comes out of the debate as a clear winner every time.

    January 31, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. ne,pa

    Unfortunately, a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain.
    That's why Huck's still in..to help his pal McCain.
    Romney needs those Huck votes to beat McCain.

    January 31, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Mike Smyth, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Yes, I too believe that Ron Paul will emerge the nominee. His internet campaign and YouTube will free the electorate from the corporate media.

    I also wear tin foil over my head so people can't read my thoughts.

    January 31, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. Jo Ann

    I can’t say this was one of my favorite debates. The Reagan Library might be impressive in its own right, but it looked awkward and distracting as a debate arena.

    The questions and follow-ups could have been better. I realize that Anderson wanted to concentrate on the candidates who are considered to be “the real contenders” for the nomination, but I would have appreciated it if he would have allowed Ron Paul more time to speak. It seemed like a two candidate debate. Frankly, even with all of the bickering it was boring. In my opinion Ron Paul was the winner.

    If you think there was a lot of petty arguing in this debate wait until tonight's slugfest.

    January 31, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Jody M

    Mike Huckabee, like a marathon runner who was kept from running sprinted far from behind to win the debate! He redeemed the little time he was given and did not ramble like the rest. His voice spoke volumes connecting with the people and issues. Huckabee-hands down he was the most articulate communicator and seemed to demand respect and admiration from those who listened. He appeared as the adult modeling humbleness, maturity, integrity, grace and vision. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul gained voter points as they patiently watched the other children bicker and fight like feuding siblings. Now who would you want to run the country, the parents or the children?????????????????

    January 31, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Erin

    I am extremely disappointed that I tuned in last night to listen to four candidates and only heard responses from two. I was particularliy annoyed when Cooper would cut off a candidate, mainly Ron Paul, allowing him only a sentence or two. I would rather listen to someone who is not focusing on personal tactics and is focusing on the issues that I want to hear. I don't care if McCain has Romney's best friend tagging along on the campaign trail with him. Stop bickering and let those who actually have something useful to say, say it.

    January 31, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. tomdavie

    I wonder if anyone has figured out yet that the media is privately owned. Do I need to say more? Go look at how the news is being reported on every major network. None of it is objective. Every network is trying to 'shape' the election to get bigger ratings and promote selected (cough Obama cough) candidates.

    January 31, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Jaynell Robidoux

    I am a registered Democrat but have voted the other party in the past. After last night's so-called debate, I am tempted again. - thanks to Mike Huckabee. He was the only one that came across as a true Statesman (knowledgeable, polite, alert, courteous) instead of a politician (someone who just wants to be President).
    I do have a questions for ALL candidates: Are you still drawing a salary from the people who elected you to your current office even though you have not been performing those duties for months but have been pursuing another job instead?
    I sincerely pray (even though the Justices don't agree with prayer) that the Republican party has not totally lost its mind and will select mike Huckabee to be its candidate. I will NOT vote for Obama or Clinton – Obama is too green and Clinton is too greedy.

    January 31, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. Brenda Landers

    Gov. Mike Huckabee can say so much in so few words. It is obvious that he has much wisdom and many years of experience. I believe that the people America are beginning to look past all the political speeches and see a true leader that just wants to serve the people of the United States.

    January 31, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  15. James

    Why the continued silencing of Ron Paul? As time goes on it becomes increasingly obvious that this network, as well as the rest of the mainstream meadia is hiding something... But, good will out, in the end. Shame on CNN, Fox et al for such a horrific display of bias and protection of the status quo... It will not be enough as the truth will always triumph over lies.

    January 31, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Amanda

    I would have to agree that I lost a lot of respect for McCain after watching the debate last night. He didn't speak clearly, and when asked why he was qualified to manage the economy his answer was:
    "I have the vision and the knowledge and the background to take on the transcendent issue of the 21st century, which is radical Islamic extremism."
    Which didn't address the question whatsoever. I understand that he has the military background necessary to help us in Iraq. But what is he going to do for our economy?

    And even though I don't agree with Ron Paul on 95% of the things he stands for, I was ashamed that CNN didn't give him more opportunities to talk.

    January 31, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. Ralph Kaupa

    I certainly agree with Mr. Schneider on the dabate last night. I think Huckabee should be given more attention and more chances to speak at these debates. Last night was a terrible display. The networks should try and be fair to all the participants and they were not fair to Huckabee. He makes the most sense to all of us and our family really support him. I hope he gets a chance to be heard by all the people and not allow people like Romney to buy the votes. Look at what Huckabee has done without the finances of the other participants. I hope the networks start pointing this out. Thanks to Mr. Schneider for his accurate comments.

    January 31, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Eric-Tyler, TX

    McCAIN: displayed the worst performance I have ever seen in a Presidential debate. His performance will cost him 4-6% everywhere but California.

    ROMNEY: took McCain's petty attacks too personally. His performance won't help or hurt him, but McCain's trainwreck will bump him 3-5%.

    HUCKABEE: showed some fight as opposed to canned one-liners. He will only benefit slightly-Romney will get most of the undecided conservatives as he is seen as the most likely candidate to beat McCain.

    PAUL: actually makes sense on every issue except becoming a reycluse nation. It is unfortunate he looks and sounds bitter. There is enough of that coming from Hillary. The result from the debate for him is +/- 0%. He just does not get enough attention and sounds unreasonable regarding Iraq-the same way Huckabee sounds on taxes.

    The winner on content: Paul.
    The winner in the polls: Romney.

    January 31, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Great analysis of Ron Paul's eloquent contirbutions, particulary his heartfelt plea to return politics to actual discussions of policy and the constitution.

    Oh wait, you NEVER mention Dr. Ron Paul. I guess you are part of the machine also. I'm sure reporters everywhere are so proud.

    January 31, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. Harold

    I am appalled at the conduct of the debate last night, specifically the conduct of moderator Anderson Cooper (AC). He spent all his time trying to provoke an all-out argument between Gov. Romney & Sen. McCain, while almost completely ignoring Rep. Paul & Gov. Huckabee.

    To AC – this is a democracy. Because a particular candidate has received fewer votes to date than his rivals does not make his viewpoints invalid or less important. This was never more blatant that when AC asked about Pres. Reagan's appointment of Justice O'Connor and cut off Rep. Paul in mid-answer so Romney & McCain could have more time to argue over the same topic of who-said-what about the possibility of withdrawal from Iraq.

    One begins to think that CNN does indeed stand for "Communist News Network."

    It is however very approproate that the debate was held at the Reagan Library right after a State of the Union address. I remember a State of the Union address from President Reagan circa 1985 when he exclaimed, "the Federal Government is too big and it spends far too much."

    Of which of the four Republican candidates does that remind you?

    PS – to Anderson Cooper – do you understand fair time?, how about the Gold Standard?

    Also – hats off to Mike Huckabee for recognizing and citing the 10th Amendment – with he and Dr. Paul probably the only two on the centre-stage who know what it says.

    January 31, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Fernando

    It's impressive to watch a man (Huckabee) rise in the polls to become tied for second in the "Real Clear Politics" national poll listings, and he did it on a shoestring. I'm glad America had an opportunity, albeit brief, to see why he continues to rise above the rest. I hope he'll have enough time and money to educate voters before this primary process draws to an end.

    January 31, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. spencer

    Yes, Romney's money is the only thing keeping him in the election, right? Are you implying that the American people are so stupid that as soon as they see an ad on television, they run to the polls to check that box? The real problem is that you media people are so horrible that the real issues and positions are never disseminated. But thanks for CNN's constant flow of "expert" bs opinions. I hope the ghost of Pullitzer never allows you to sleep.

    January 31, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Michael

    Why does my comment always seem to be "awaiting moderation"? It's innocuous. I suppose no one else can see it when that tag line is above it. With some of the bilge you post, I'm just wondering. This is for you, CNN censors.

    January 31, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |

    I could care less who Mr. Schneider "thinks" won the Republican debate. He and Anderson Cooper showed their colors last night. I was struck by the content free questions. I was amazed on how they lost control of the "Bickertons".

    Most of all I saw how CNN wanted entertainment over a real debate. The "Bickertons" were entertainment. The amount of questions asked of them were because CNN wants to keep them running and have the other two drop out. They feel this will be more controlable and fun. No news and information should get in the way.

    Will anyone shut Wolf up? He babbles on and on and on and on with nothing really to say. If anyone actually says something interesting he talks over them. Is Wolf afraid of his job??

    I guess I will just stop watching. Too much talk and little news or content.

    Thank you!

    January 31, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. tony

    Come on everyone, don't you know its the MEDIA that controls who gets into office. Whoever wines and dines them will get the nod. Huckabee being broke could not offer the media anything so he doesn't get the time. Its really a shame that Americans vote not by there concious or convictions, but rather by the political spins put on by the media!
    And we wonder why we are in so much trouble. Lord help us all.

    Dont let CNN or Fox news or your local tv station or your neighbor influence your vote. Seek it out for yourself on the issues.

    January 31, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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