Another impressive debate win for Governor Huckabee. Below are just some of the post-debate reviews:
But Huckabee, who has distinguished himself in the debates all year, turned in the strongest performance of the evening at a time when he’s beginning to become a force in the race. Time and time again, Huckabee stood out, giving thoughtful and eloquent answers to questions about immigration, taxes, the death penalty and the bible, which for an ordained Baptist minister is a familiar subject. He also once again delivered the best punch lines. When asked what Jesus would do in regards to the death penalty, Huckabee said, “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office.”
Generally it’s not easy to declare true winners and losers in these debates, but there’s no doubt that Huckabee made the most headway. As his campaign – smaller, lesser funded and out-organized – struggles to capitalize on the sudden surge he’s seen in the polls, this nationally televised debate allowed him to reintroduce himself to GOP primary voters. And he did not disappoint.
Jim Geraghty, NRO:
[T]ime and again, he’s the smoothest, funniest, most natural campaigner on the stage, and that goes a long way. He saved the rest of the field on the question about whether they believe every word of the Bible, and had the line on the night, saying Jesus was too smart to run for office.
Byron York, NRO:
[Huckabee] has helped himself more than any other candidate on stage tonight. He's clearly on the rise in Iowa and South Carolina, and perhaps elsewhere, and my guess is that people who are considering supporting him liked what they saw tonight.
Patrick Ruffini, Townhall:
Huckabee actually won. I wasn't a fan of his previous debate performances, but he dialed down the schtick. This was a debate performance he needed at a critical time.
Mike Huckabee scored the debate points on rhetoric and is the winner of this debate. He did really well. He showed up Romney. He showed up Rudy.
Ankle Biting Pundit:
Mike Huckabee continues to impress, and comes off as the most genuine guy up there. He’s obviously a darling of social conservatives (for good reason) but doesn’t come close to being the MSM stereotype of a “wacky preachy religious guy”. His answer on why it’s impossible to understand the Bible was pure genius. On substance he’s a great salesman for the Fair Tax. I’m not quite sure I’m on board with it, but it does intrigue me, in large part because something about Huckabee makes me trust him and the decisions he makes.
He also gave a good answer to whether he would accept support from the Log Cabin Republicans (”I’ll accept anyone’s support, but I won’t change my views just to get it. We can disagree on things but still support each other on others”).
I also get another vibe from Huckabee. I’m not a very religious guy, and the subject usually bores me, and I can’t stand people who constantly talk about it, because it just turns me off. But I think Huckabee is the kind of guy who you could sit down and talk to about religion that would get you to start thinking positively about religion and get yhou to make it a bigger part of your life, not by bashing you over the head with it, but just getting you to think about its role in your life. Not that I’m at all interested in that (although I should be), I’m just saying I could see him being that kind of guy.
Now, who won among the candidates? I'd have to lean towards Mike Huckabee. He steered clear of personal attacks, allowed his natural personality to emerge, and used his sense of humor to great effect. If people wonder why Huckabee has made a major move in Iowa, they saw why.
David Brody, CBN:
[I]t was Mike Huckabee who may have had the best night.
Put aside the issues for a moment. Don’t you get the sense that Huckabee comes across as an extremely effective communicator? Whether you agree with him or not, it seemed like every issue he talked about Wednesday had a well thought out, coherent argument behind it. When he speaks, the tone and words flow harmoniously. I mean his answer about the Bible being the word of God came across as humble, accurate and inclusive. Hard to do. On a question about “What would Jesus do” when it comes to the death penalty, Huckabee’s answer was heartfelt conflict yet strong. And then this line of the debate: “Jesus was too smart to run for public office!” Even on the tricky question of whether he’ll accept the endorsement of the gay Log Cabin Republicans group, Huckabee said that he needs all the help he can get. So sure he’ll accept but won’t change his position on same sex marriage. He even said he wants to be that group’s President and everybody’s President. Good answer, right? Or how about the line about space exploration when he said, “Maybe Hillary can be on the first rocket to Mars.”
Huckabee really didn’t come under attack tonight. At one point Mitt Romney got on him for Huckabee’s desire to see the children of illegal immigrants get tax payer funded money for college but Huckabee’s answer came across as compassionate and reasonable. He didn’t get harmed. It was a night where Huckabee could have been a major target. Instead, he continues to move right along. He’s tied for first in Iowa and you can see why after tonight’s performance. His eloquence on stage is what he’s doing on the campaign trail everyday.
The debate could mark a pivotal moment for Huckabee, whose confident performance and hefty air time reflects his recent surge in polls in Iowa and Florida.
He came across as affable and sincere. Asked what Jesus would do with the death penalty, the ordained Baptist minister and former governor said he was the only one on stage who had had to order an execution.
''I believe there is a place for the death penalty,'' he said. ''Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible that the only response that we, as a civilized nation, have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person . . . but also [to give] a warning to others.'' But what would Jesus do? ''Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office,'' he quipped.
Huckabee, who barely registered in most polls until recently, topped a post-debate survey of 340 undecided Republican voters in Florida, conducted by Insider Advantage and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Huckabee got 44 percent, compared to Giuliani with 18 percent and Romney with 13 percent.
Political Radar, ABC News:
[T]he biggest night belonged to Mike Huckabee. At a moment when many voters are just tuning in, and hearing about this Huckabee guy, he turned in a really strong performance, showing flashes of humor, and defusing tough questions. I thought going in that he would have a rough evening, but he really soared.
If you had walked into last night’s GOP YouTube Debate without any preconceived notions or exposure to the campaign so far, you might well have thought that Mike Huckabee was the clear GOP frontrunner. He tuned down some of his harder Christianist positions and played the inclusive card while confidentially displaying the executive style he developed as Arkansas governor.
Huckabee was on tonight. Love him or hate him, he’s comfortable in his own skin, he doesn’t have Romney’s deer-in-headlights moments where he’s trying to hone in on the least-offensive answer. He knows where he stands and speaks with confidence about positions he knows some people hate.