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FixCam: Political Week In Preview

After taking a back seat to the Democrats for the past month or so, the Republican presidential candidates are the story this week with Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube debate as the focal point.

Heading into the debate, the two frontrunners -- former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- are slamming one another over their conservative credentials (or lack thereof).

The campaigns of Romney and Giuliani have long seen the other as the main obstacle to the GOP nomination, and with just weeks left before the Iowa caucuses that fight has broken out into the open.

Will that animosity carry over to Wednesday night's get-together? We're betting it will. And, while it will be fascinating to watch how Giuliani and Romney take shots at one another (and who gets the best of the rhetorical back and forth), the more important element of the debate will be how the other candidates react. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has made up considerable ground in Iowa thanks to his "Mr. Nice Guy" routine, and he may get another chance to cast himself as the positive alternative if Romney and Giuliani engage in an extended battle on Wednesday night.

The Fix hits the road later this week -- two days in Iowa with Romney on Friday and Saturday and two more in New Hampshire on Sunday and Monday for the latest MTV/MySpace presidential dialogue -- this one with Arizona Sen. John McCain.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 26, 2007; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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Next: Are Mississippi Democrats Preparing to Fight?


Off topic -- but hostage situation at the Clinton campaign office.

What in the hell is the world coming to?

Posted by: femalenick | November 30, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"assistance to the Third World and anti-poverty programs that are at odds with Republican orthodoxy"
You'll have to explain this to me. I'm a Republican and I can assure you that I am not pro-poverty and that I believe that food in your stomach/house over head goes a long way to creating stability in societies. It's simply that most Republicans don't think that the US government giving gobs of un-targeted money to less than credible governments is an effective way of providing assistance to others.

Posted by: dave | November 27, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I was being sarcastic when I added "I think". But it certainly reflects an attitude held by many on the left and right.

I think the real whacko element on the Christian right is a very small minority. I say that as someone who does not agree with them on most issues.

Posted by: jimd52 | November 27, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The Big Debate is going to be a Big Sham. CNN is going to feature one or two joke entries from Youtube in order to try to contrast the wacky internet with the supposed serious "journalists" from CNN. The rest of the questions are going to come from people who don't know how to ask questions designed to avoid vague answers, and those questions are going to simply generate the stock talking points.

And, CNN is going to present this as a real debate about real issues, with this site and the rest of the MSM playing along.

Here's a proposal that would result in real debates:

Something like that would be resisted by the major candidates and the MSM because it would reveal just how bad they are.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | November 27, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I think you're both right about Obama, I think he could pull some evangelicals over. He's the most 'Christian' of all of them. Gingrich said yesterday I think that he beleives Obama will take Iowa.

Btw, Jim, I'm pretty sure Keollor was joking, but the true fundies, who beleive that this life/world is just an illusion, God's test to see if you are worthy to live eternal life in the 'real' world of heaven, are pretty scary as voters.

Posted by: drindl | November 27, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

JimD in FL asks
"More signs of the Reagan coalition fraying?"

I suspect so. The GOP is having a hard enough time holding its coalition together they hardly have the time to try to appeal to moderates/independents. As you note elsewhere, the evangelicals aren't a monolithic coalition either & are probably less inclined to vote a straight-GOP ticket than in the past. None of the existing GOP candidates can likely hold together the coalition & draw enough independents to win the Presidential election - unless the Dems make an extremely poor choice for their nominee.

Posted by: bsimon | November 27, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Jim, again, I think that the evangelicals are, at least some of them, beginning to understand that they were gamed by the Wall Street R's. Many promises were made -- Im sure they expected, with Republicans controlling all branches of gov't, for a consitutional ban on both abortion and gay marriage, and it didn't happen. And prayer in schools. they did of course get a lot of taxpayer money, but they were looking for a national school voucher system. Of course, the only real agenda for Wall Streeters is total privatization and deregulation of all government functions, so they did push for that.

But ther is also a schism in the evangelical movement itself. There are the big business televangelists like Roberts who was happy to throw his 'beleifs' out the window and endorse Rudy for business reasons, like wanting to get his hands on Venezuela's oil.

And then there's the dominionists, who want a 'Christian government.' And then there's some who want to be stewards of the environment and help poor people -- the 'Christian' wing. So I think that, taken together, they will have much less of an impact this time around.

Posted by: drindl | November 27, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I might add that a very large number of younger evangelicals hold views on environmentalism, assistance to the Third World and anti-poverty programs that are at odds with Republican orthodoxy.

Posted by: jimd52 | November 27, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own?" Robert Novack, November 26, 2007

So Novack is happy to have these people voting Republican in droves but heaven help us if one of them wants to be elected on his own. To the extent that this reflects an attitude on the part of ideological, "Club for Growth" conservatives, it contains a real danger for the viability of the Republican coalition. It is interesting how similar this attitude is to that of the so-called liberal elite. I remember listening to the first Prairie Home Companion show after the 2004 election. Garrison Keillor said in his monologue that we would be better off if evangelicals were forbidden to vote. Now, he was joking (I think) but it reflects an underlying attitude on the part of many people in the elites - both left and right.

I wonder what the impact on the general election might be if Huckabee mounts a strong challenge for the nomination but is ultimately defeated by attacks similar to Novack's column. If evangelicals sense the underlying contempt for them held by some Republican elites, will that cause many to vote Democratic - especially if Obama, who can speak their language eloquently even while not buying into the social agenda, is the nominee. At the least, you can be sure there will not be the kind of turnout in 2008 that Bush got in 2004.

Posted by: jimd52 | November 27, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I think so, Jim. Huckabee will have to stand up for himself at some point, because Mitt has now started hitting him hard. The tax and immigration issues could really hurt Huckabee with the base. But the truth is, the base may be really fractured by this election:

'Mitt Romney clearly isn't ignoring the threat of Mike Huckabee. In fact, he's going right after Huckabee's central argument -- that he, not Romney, is the true Reagan conservative.

Appearing Monday on CNN, Romney said: "I'll tell you, Ronald Reagan would have never raised taxes like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never said let's give tuition breaks to illegals like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never stood by and pushed for a budget that more than doubled during his term as president. Mike Huckabee as a matter of fact has a very different record than Ronald Reagan, and I'm pretty proud that my record stands up quite well."

Posted by: drindl | November 27, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if any of the front-runners will hit back at Huckabee if he tries to triangulate. The "I am above all that nastiness" approach can be very appealing. However, Huckabee is coming under attack from the hard core Republican ideologues. Novack's column was representative of the Club for Growth critique of Huckabee. It also reflected an extremely condescending view of the evangelicals. More signs of the Reagan coalition fraying?

Posted by: jimd52 | November 27, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

The controversy over the timing of the MS special election is heating up... with the Secretary of State issuing its opinion in the case. And Hastert finally officially resigned today, setting up the stage for a spring special election with its own timing issues. Full analysis of both races:

Posted by: campaigndiaries | November 26, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Chris Cillizza--

If I may I'd like to know what you and your colleagues at WaPo are doing to avoid the temptation of treating the campaign as a "horse race". Also, do you have any information -- anecdotal or otherwise -- as to how likely voters feel about the accelerated voting schedule?

Posted by: nbahn | November 26, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee a nice guy? Way off the mark. He's a fundamentalist evangelist, proud of his 14th century world view. He's Bush without Cheney. Maybe it's an index of how low our standards have become to describe him as a "nice guy," and accept that as his qualification to be president.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | November 26, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

"Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has made up considerable ground in Iowa thanks to his "Mr. Nice Guy" routine..."

'Routine?' Methinks you doubt whether he's truly a nice guy or not.

Regardless, if it works for him he should go with it. Let the two front-runners tear each other to pieces while standing there with a bemused, angelic expression on your face. Perhaps he could bring his guitar and perform a bass version of "Dueling Banjos" as background music.

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 26, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Today Rudy hit Mitt on that judge Mitt appointed, so Mitt hit back hard with Bernie Kerik--whom Rudy pushed to be Homeland Security chief, even though he was under Federal investigation. I'd say that round goes to Mitty.

Posted by: drindl | November 26, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

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