Post Debate comments - 1st Debate

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields, appearing on News Hour with Jim Lehrer to analyze the GOP debate, had this to say about Governor Huckabee: "Can I just say on Huckabee ... I thought Huckabee came across as authentic, as well as likeable. And then there was a naturalness to him. He answered the questions. He didn't have talking points."

NYT Times Columnist David Brooks appeared on News Hour with Jim Lehrer to analyze the candidates' performance in the GOP debate. Here's what Brooks had to say:

BROOKS: I thought the person that helped themself the most was Mike Huckabee.
JIM LEHRER: Mike Huckabee?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, he came across as extremely personable, the sort of person...
JIM LEHRER: Here's a guy who is hardly a household name.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, but I think he came close to entering the top tier or really elevating himself. First of all, he was a good personality, a very relaxed, warm presence. Second thing, he actually branded himself. You know, you've got 10 guys up there. Distinguish yourself. And he actually distinguished himself as sort of a populist, straight-talking person from out in the country.

Rolling Stone magazine, in its coverage of the first GOP debate, said: Gov. Huckabee "was funny and charismatic. His anti-CEO schitck — sticking up for 50 year old guys losing their pensions should win him points with the Lou Dobbs crowd. He out classed Romney for sure."

MSNBC's post-dabate round-up ranks the performance of each candidate. About Governor Huckabee, they say: "On the stage with him were his equals, not his betters."

Peter Robinson from National Review also liked what he saw out of Gov. Huckabee, saying "Only one man in this debate so far has really helped himself: Mike Huckabee. Relaxed and funny—he got off the only really funny line when they were all asked whether they'd amend the constitution to let Schwarzenegger run for president—Huckabee is also articulate and determined. Giuliani is proving fascinating, but not in an altogether reassuring way. But Huckabee? This guy is coming across as likeable, smart, and maybe even up to the job."

National Review's John Podhoretz watched tonight's debate and saw what the rest of America saw. Say's Podhoretz: "Mike Huckabee really terrific...I'd say halfway through that he is far and away the most likable and eloquent candidate on that stage."

NRO's Jim Geraghty says Gov. Mike Huckabee had "something reassuring about him" in tonight's debate.

Famed political consultant Dick Morris said on Fox News today that McCain, Romney and Huckabee were all winners in last night's debate. About Huckabee, Morris said:

"Huckabee was the most original and interesting of the candidates. His unique style came through when he defended his pro-life views by asking why, if we “move heaven and earth” to find hikers lost on Mt. Hood or in a coal mine, we don’t defend human life in the womb. His explanation of how his faith leads him to embrace global stewardship in the face of climate change and to want to punish Enron-style executives who fleece their workers was both novel and intriguing."

Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and senior editor of The New Atlantis magazine, took part in a post-debate symposium last night. Here's his take:

"If you knew nothing about this race except what you saw tonight, I suspect you would guess the three leading candidates were Romney, McCain, and Huckabee...all three were poised, sharp, and reasonably presidential."

Kathleen Parker, a nationally syndicated columnist from South Carolina thinks Huckabee took second place in last night's debate, saying: "Runner-up goes to Mike Huckabee. Smart, pleasant, knowledgeable, and straightforward, he was the surprise in the Cracker Jack box."