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

Schneider: The night's big winner: Huckabee

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/30/huck2.jpg caption=" 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. Jeff, North Dakota

    The American people lost because CNN would not allow the truth to be spoken. CNN is scared of truth. CNN is corporate media manipulating the minds of Americans. CNN is the same as Faux News Channel. Ron Paul speaks to the people, and the suits are afraid.

    January 31, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Ed

    common CNN. didn't like my comment:?. i am sure you have enough room to post all comments. no just the ones that hurt the least. shame on you and shame on anderson for such a horrible performance last night. word of advice. YOU ARE NOT GOOD TO MODERATE IMPORTANT DEVATES. This is AMERICA, IT does not belong to your Believes. be fair with all you puts

    January 31, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Judie

    I also was disgusted that the McCain/Romney heated argument was allowed to continue for so much of the allotted time for debate. Just because they are the two candidates currently leading in the polls is no justification for the rude treatment of Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

    I agree that Gov. Huckabee definitely won the debate in terms of being articulate and honest, with a record that supports his conservative positions. When one considers that he was a Republican governor with an overwhelingly Democrat legislature, it is remarkable that he accomplished so much in Arkansas during his tenure. I would highly recommend that readers go to his website (www.mikehuckabee.com) to evaluate his true positions and ideas about how to really bring positive change to America. I am supporting Mike Huckabee for President and urge everyone to consider him.

    Although John McCain was a POW during the Vietnam War, that does not qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief. He has used his status as a returned POW to feather his own nest. But he virtually abandoned the POW/MIA issue once he got home and has done very little, if anything, to help get an accounting for those whose fate is still unknown. I do not trust him to make the level-headed decisions that are required of the President. The evidence of his hot-headed anger was on display last night.

    Gov. Romney has many of the right answers, but he seems to be somewhat evasive and able to "shade the truth" to make himself look better than his opponent, even at the expense of the real truth.

    January 31, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Terrie

    Dearest CNN and media machine:

    Last night's debate was not a debate at all but a public forum for 2 childish polititians to squabble with one another over pettiness "you said..." "no I didn't" "yes you did" waaaaaa.....go back to gradeschool boys.
    As Romney said, a Governor is the best qualified for President. Huckabee was governor for 10.5 years so there ya go. Huckabee is honest. Huckabee is a voice of the people and not the corporations.
    McCain is being set up. The democrats want an aged, unqualified, boring candidate from the Republican party. The democrats know that Huckabee is not only appealing to the evangelicals, but the working man too. Huckabee is smarter than the media gives him credit and will bring interest to many undecided Republicans AND Democrats.
    I watched Bush's state of the union address the other night and an sick to even imagine how tired McCain would be as president. Look McCain is a war hero and a patriot, but we need someone to lead the country.

    January 31, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    If this freak is the winner then America is the loser.

    January 31, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  6. Shawna

    Could you imagine McCain dealing with terrorists? God help us.

    Susan .... the media ignored Huck and Paul because they know it's just a two man competition. The others are wasting their money and time. They say Huck is staying in just to keep votes from Romney.

    January 31, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Pat Guthrie

    I agree that Mike Huckabee did an excellent job – when he had a chance to speak. It seemed that CNN had a definite plan to make this debate a "two man" debate, even though you condescended to allow Huckabee and Paul to be sitting there. It is a shame that you do not really want the public to know the views of all those running, and you are trying to, in a manner of speaking, sensor what we actually do get to hear. I'm sorry for that.

    January 31, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Kyle

    RON PAUL 08.. Stop ignoring the man... afraid he might make the golden boys look bad??? TRUE REPUBLICANS 4 RON PAUL

    January 31, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  9. Brad

    Welcome to the United States of CNN. Basically, the people will have the president that CNN gives them. All the sudden I begin to wonder if this is still the America everyone used to love. Quite frightening, really.

    February 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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