January 31st, 2008
07:34 AM ET
7 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. Linda

    I hope Mccain loses. He cant be the nominee. Hes rude, arrogant, over confident ( from the 2 victories) , and thinks since he was a army guy hes the best to be our president.

    He is showing signs of ego just as Bush and look how we are fighting to save our lifes now.

    LOSE LOSE LOSE MCCAIN!!!!!!!!!

    January 31, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. i.t.

    i watched the republican debate for the first time last night... and wondering why Ron Paul isn't more popular. He made sense when he said the US spent way too much money on the war and the US should focus on foreign policy. And at that point I was also wondering why McCain is so popular... he one war loving devil.

    January 31, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Betty

    Bush fired the economic advisor who estimated the Iraq war could cost 200 billion. Now we spent over 1 trillion. Bush said oil revenue would pay for Iraq reconstruction. We were lied to about that. Bush said we would be welcomed as liberators. Another lie. Bush said mission accomplished. Another lie. Bush told us we had to invade Iraq because of WMD. Another lie. No candidate except Ron Paul has described a real plan to reduce the national debt and strengthen our economy.

    January 31, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Mike S., Nawlins

    You know you're not a very good Republican when Rush Limabaugh and Ann Coulter come out against you.

    But it is nice to see the neocon movement coming to an end.

    January 31, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Jay

    Kristi K. Arkansas wrote:
    "I just hope Huckabee (nice guy) gets out soon for our Republican party. He will be taking votes away."

    I am writing:
    I just hope Romney (Rich guy) gets out soon for our Republican party. He will be taking votes away from Huckabee.

    January 31, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. mr.smith

    I agree that Huckabee was "the Man" last night. He has been for most of these debates. The only way that Huckabee has a chance, is that Romney backers have to realize that a vote for Romney is a vote for John McCain. There are some Christian conservatives (myself included) that will not back Romney. This is splitting the conservative vote. Why else would Rush and all his buddies candidate not be the conservative candidate? Romney cannot win, but Huckabee can! He can solidify the conservative vote. If you don't want McCain, then you need to wake people up to this now. There's not much time left.

    January 31, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. Todd

    Why is my last comment still awaiting moderation? I feel like Ron Paul at a CNN debate.

    Hmmmmmm

    January 31, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Conservatives Unite!

    Let us think strategically for a moment about this election. The longer Huckabee stays in the race the better the chance that McCain will win the election. If you want McCain to win, vote Huckabee. If you want McCain to win, talk up Huckabee–say he won the debate if you want.

    January 31, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Dean

    All you Huckabee supporters-

    Can you please explain to me how you think that Huckabee is a conservative?

    Clearly he gets high marks as a social conservative for his strong stance against abortion and same-sex marriage. But his support for scholarships for children of illegals isn’t really a conservative position. Nor is his ducking of the question in the debate last night about children of illegals being citizens. Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled on that, but guess what, they also ruled on Roe vs. Wade and that hasn’t stopped him. Poor excuse. And frankly, his comments on religion

    He gets very low marks as a fiscal conservative. He raised taxes- a lot. His plan to stimulate the economy? Build roads??? That sounds way too much like FDR and the New Deal. Doesn’t he realize that the private sector is far better at creating jobs than the government? His constant animosity towards Romney because of his wealth shows he clearly does not understand how a free market economy works and the conservative ideal of work hard and get paid for it.

    It is hard to judge how Huckabee rates as a security conservative. His original plan for illegals was not conservative. He has the right idea on Iraq- but because he is tied so closely to McCain he doesn’t get the same attacks on lack of military and foreign affairs experience as Romney. It is easy to say “I’ll meet you at the gates of hell”, it is something else to know how to deal with foreign leaders.

    So, in terms of the three legs of Reagan conservatism, Huckabee gets at best a 1.75. He is a great debater, but so was Bill Clinton. The ability to speak well does not translate to having good, consistent policies.

    January 31, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Nathan M. Dyersburg, Tn

    Quite clear the cream will come to the top. Mike Huckabee definately won this debate and Ron Paul was outstanding even thou Anderson Cooper was partial to the other two candidates.This is now a two man show. Mike and Paul. Hopefully they both can get on the ticket and win . A winning combo that America could live and respect . Shame on CNN for being biased . No more Cooper for me.

    January 31, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Zaac

    This was atrocious. I certainly hope this is not an example of the type of journalism CNN does. If they only wanted a 2 person debate, then they should have told Huckabee and Ron Paul to stay home.

    John McCain is dull and lacks the energy to enthuse the Republican electorate. He kept going back to his military service and the Iraq troop surge. Is that all he's got?

    Romney I just don't trust. He comes across as a scheister and last night did nothing to allay those thoughts.

    Ron Paul is very interesting and says, at times exactly what needs to be said .

    By far the most polished and presidentila person on the stage was Mike Huckabee. He spoke to the people and came across as being ardent without the pushyness.

    I hope he catches fire in the polls and the other two supposed front runners drop to the wayside.

    January 31, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. MS

    The headline should be, "McCain Bombs in Debate." Even Schneider admits it when he says, "I don’t think McCain made many gains – and I think he may have caused people to re-think the race." That IS a big story. The front runner may have caused people to re-think the race based on his debate performance last night.

    January 31, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Cindy, PA

    It's simple:

    John McCain: Stuck in the 70's post Vietnam. War is his ONLY issue.

    Mitt Romney: Stuck in the 80's–the "Me" Generation. BMW's and "Preps"

    Ron Paul: Stuck in the 30's–(Sorry to all Ron Paul fans.) I really like Ron A LOT, but "Times–they are a'changing."

    Mike Huckabee: The only candidate who really gets it. He has a clear vision of the future.

    January 31, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. spectator

    I agree with Bill. John McCain lost ground yesterday – he came forth as a guy who thinks Iraq is the most important issue on people's minds right now – he didnt come across as a guy who is in touch with today's reality that people are seriously worried about the recession. they want to hear about the solutions for economy as much as IRAQ if not more. Romney did himself good – he was suave and did not loose his cool. But my favourite right now is Huckabee. He is the people's man. He talks sensibly – his ideas are radical – but they are a breah of fresh air in the current show of upmanship and bickering in both the parties.
    Go Huck!

    January 31, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Deb

    Anderson Cooper should be fired for what he did last night! After spending all the money to create an atmosphere that was wonderful, he ruined it completely with his VERY, VERY ,VERY, RUDE BEHAVIOR! We stuck it out to the end but three times we where so disgusted with his antics that the Remote was used, there was nothing else on that interested us so we came to the Train Wreck Anderson caused!

    We wanted very much to hear what Mike Huckabee had to say!

    January 31, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. MS

    Why won't you publish this comment?

    The headline should be, "McCain Bombs in Debate." Even Schneider admits it when he says, "I don’t think McCain made many gains – and I think he may have caused people to re-think the race." That IS a big story. The front runner may have caused people to re-think the race based on his debate performance last night.

    January 31, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Judy Watts

    Every time I listen to Governor Huckabee I am inspired. I have read all the comments and I see the diversity of America reflected here. There is one thing that Americans are known for and that is an excitement for life and fair play. CNN was shamefully negligent on the last. If you invite someone to debate you MUST treat them with respect. I would never vote for Ron Paul but he deserved as a human being to be heard last night.

    January 31, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Beth

    Kudos to Huckabee. The debate was to say the least, pathetic. It appeared to be a childish spat between Romney and McCain. It really degraded both of them. Debates are to address an issue being discused, not belittling each other. At least Huckabee addressed each issue asked of him, which I can't say any other candidate did. I hope future debates are more controlled. Especially where badgering or heckling other candidates are concerned. And the other point I'd like to make is that each candidate should be given equal time. After all, every candidate up there is running for president, not just two cackling hens.

    January 31, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Bob

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

    In order to run a successful presidential campaign, a candidate MUST SPEND MONEY. Romney is a far more intelligent, experienced, and uncorrupted conservative than Huckabee could claim to be. The argument about spending money is weak and it shows you have no leg to stand on when criticizing Romney's experience. Maybe you should consider a different career (instead of political reporting)......

    January 31, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Stan

    McCain is the ONLY GOP candidate who can beat Clinton or Obama. A vote for anyone else in a Republican primary is a vote for a Democrat in November. It seems the McCain haters prefer Clinton and Obama. Republicans need to support the one candidate who can beat the Dems.

    January 31, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Sherry Johnson

    Why did they ignore the Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul?

    January 31, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. M. Johnson

    A vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain. There should be more to a candidate than a few good one-liners.

    January 31, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. MS

    Publish my comment already!

    The headline should be, "McCain Bombs in Debate." Even Schneider admits it when he says, "I don’t think McCain made many gains – and I think he may have caused people to re-think the race." That IS a big story. The front runner may have caused people to re-think the race based on his debate performance last night.

    January 31, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Arthur P.

    I too, like many others, was distraught by Coopers actions towards Ron Paul. He is a true conservative, the only one on the board that actually knows how to cut spending. If any other candidate is elected spending will increase, the defecit will grow. Paul could not be any more correct when he says that the US has no money. He is easily the smartest candidate on the Republican side. Thats why I'm voting for him.

    January 31, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Skippy

    In case anyone is counting, this from today's NY Times online.

    Candidate's speaking time from last night's CNN debate:

    Moderator-13:05
    Mike Huckabee-15:06
    John McCain-22:30
    Ron Paul-6:52
    Mitt Romney-26:27

    Was I watching Fox News last night? Seems like their style of fair and balanced.

    Confused in America

    January 31, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10