I just got back from the “unofficial” LP Presidential debate… sponsored by Jim Burns, Jingozian, and I believe one other candidate (someone please fill me in if there was a third and I’ll update this post). Basically the participants were all announced candidates not named Bob Barr. I’m sure there will be tons of jeers on that point… but Barr already had a reception scheduled for the same time, and the organizers seemed pretty anti-Barr to begin with… so ultimately everyone will reach the conclusions that they want to reach. I’m pretty exhausted, so I’ll just post some random thoughts and observations before turning in for the night.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed watching the event and wish we had more of these. I came out of the debate feeling more comfortable about supporting whichever nominee our Party chooses to pick. There were some that made me less comfortable than others, but my silence on any particular candidate shouldn’t be interpreted as condemnation. I’m just going to focus on the people and issues that particularly stood out for me…
This is my first time watching Ruwart on the stage, and she was very smooth and polished. She made only subtle digs at Barr (warning about “recent converts”, and stressing the Patriot Act)… as opposed to Phillies and Kubby, who were the main two really hammering on Barr by name and making an issue out of his PAC. The crowd loved her.
Root is an awesome public speaker, and was probably more high-energy than the rest of the field combined. There was a bit less “red meat” in most of his answers, and I thought he put WAY too much emphasis on the fact that he and Obama graduated from the same college (err, okay?). However, the crowd was with him for the most part and he had no real stumbles.
Gravel did pretty good, and his supporters were loud. He didn’t really try to dance around the fact that many LP’ers disagree with him on some issues… and while there was some very quiet murmurs around me on some points, overall the crowd was pretty gracious and welcoming toward him.
Phillies is a much better speaker than I had been given the impression from people who’ve heard him before. He stepped up, although I though he did get a little shrill toward the end there. He basically made an honest pitch for being the compromise candidate if and when Barr and Ruwart cancel each other out… (I’m paraphrasing) “Both sides may not agree with me, but I’m the candidate that everyone can live with.” I was surprised when he acknowledged that he’s still short on tokens… and promised that once he has enough to get into the main debate he’ll distribute any excess to the other candidates who need them.
Jim Burns was another speaker who exceeded my expectations. I don’t see him having a chance at getting enough tokens for the Presidential debate, but he made a pitch for Vice-Presidential tokens as well (the only candidate to do so)… and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get enough for that race. Really good straightforward answers to questions.
Christine Smith had good stage presence, and I’ve enjoyed talking with her on the floor. She just struggled to really find a particular “hook” that resonated with people and set her apart from the field.
Turnout for the debate seemed larger than expected for what was probably an undersized room (that room was about 800-degrees and started off standing-room only). After the first hour or so the crowd thinned a bit, and Barr’s reception picked up… so that the latter had a somewhat bigger crowd. We’ll find out soon enough who got the tokens and who didn’t, and the main debate tomorrow should be pretty spirited.