After the debate was over, a reporter spoke to a focus group of folks from Iowa who were also responsible for the graph which appeared on the right of the screen throughout most of the debate. The graph was supposed to show, by political "leaning" (in this case "Conservative" vs. "Moderate"), which candidate garnered the most support throughout the debate. When asked, by show of hands, who liked Mitt Romney, 80% of hands went up. When an individual was asked to give a reason why they were impressed with Romney, his response was basically that he "seemed confident" and "presidential".
This was a bit of a surprise for me as I have always seen Romney as the least confident in his answers and he ALWAYS has to respond to other candidates when addressed, even if it is fun.
When asked a question about taxes, Thompson initially responds that his goal is to be like Romney so he doesn't have to worry about paying taxes. Pretty cute answer, and this is what we know Fred for: being likable and charming above all else. Romney could have left it at that, but felt compelled to respond with something to the effect, "No, I want to be like YOU (Thompson)!" He does this consistently, and I believe unnecessarily. To me, that makes him out to be a little insecure, definitely not confident. He has generally seemed to me to be in a "reactive" mode when it comes to addressing comments made by other candidates. Giving a speech about "Faith" after the media covered Huckabee's comment about the possibility that the Mormon church teaches that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are brothers is a good example. He has to be transparent and have such a degree of integrity that shots like that aren't even taken seriously. That would be "presidential" in my book.
Regarding the implication that Romney, "Seeming presidential" makes him a candidate worth voting for scares me because it is telling me that "John Q Voter" is looking for the man that can look the part more than a person of principle and character (can you say Manchurian Candidate with me?).
There is really no excuse for anyone who intends to cast their vote to not be informed about a candidate aside from what they see during these debates, or what is presented by the media. The availability of information at this point makes it so any person who takes politics seriously and understands the strategic effect on this country and the world can be equipped with the information they need to make an informed and intelligent choice for who they want to represent them as President.
What it really comes down to for me is not how a person comes across on television, although maybe there is something to be said about impressions when dealing diplomatically with the world, but what a person is made of. Are we really going to get to what these men are made of by watching them in this forum? I don't think so. I think if they had more opportunity to go after one another, we would see more of what they are really made of. You know the saying, "You don't know what kind of tea you have until you put it in hot water." Unfortunately, last night's "debate" was less that and more of a question and answer forum. Boring.
I believe the only real way to know what a candidate will do once in office is to look at his life, and if they have been in politics to any degree, their voting record. What they have done throughout their political career by their day to day actions in office will give you a better sense for what kind of leader they will be, regardless of what they are spewing from the podium. It is not highly likely that someone who consistently voted for open borders, or to support the redefinition of marriage throughout their career is suddenly going to turn on a dime now that the presidency is looming.
In all, I would say that the line between Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican, have blurred quite a bit; and the GOP candidates reflect that. Predictably, they will appear very conservative while trying to win the Republican nomination, but when someone does succeed and they go against the Democratic nominee, they will suddenly be somewhere in the middle because they know they have to appeal to both the right and the left. This is just disingenuous and it's what makes politics so hard for me to swallow.
So what it comes down to (apparently) is, "Who makes the best politician?" Or the more pathetic, "Who has the best chance of beating Hillary?"
This is an abomination to me as a person who tries to live by principle and keep my conscience clear. Let me give a good example of when I made a decision based on what was politically expedient rather than my conscience, and how it subsequently backfired:
I voted for Arnold as Governor of California both because I thought he was a fiscal conservative, which California desperately needed (and still needs) and I reasoned he had the name recognition to garner enough votes to win. The result is not only has he become just another politician, in spite of his promise that he was just a regular guy and would therefore be more objective and not be influenced by special interests, but socially he is an absolute nightmare! Most recently, signing SB 777, a pro-homosexual agenda propaganda bill that ensures every child in public school will be indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle.
I have had to live with the decision to put that man in office ever since, and have therefore determined I will never vote on anything but conscience from now on.
Rudolph Guiliani is the front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination, not because he is ideal or even a true conservative, but because he has the name recognition and appeal to beat Hillary. Let's have a look at some issues that are generally important to conservatives, and where Rudy stands on them:
But, all of that being said, he has been deemed by most Republican voters (notice I didn't say Conservative) as the "lesser of two evils" because if we don't vote someone in who can beat Clinton we put the country in danger of being led by her. So we harden our hearts against the fact that Guiliani is a card carrying liberal in conservative clothing, pull the handle in his favor, and hope for the best? This is a bleak outlook in my opinion and something my conscience cannot bear.
In the end I will be forced by my conscience to vote for a candidate who probably has zero chance of actually getting nominated, much less win the presidency. But, I can live with that.