Was it just me, or were the Republican candidates’ New Hampshire primary-night speeches particularly bad?
With the exception of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney was the only candidate who delivered a better speech than the one he gave on Iowa caucus night. In Iowa last week, Romney jarringly combined a saccharine recitation of America the Beautiful with a bitter condemnation of President Obama. In New Hampshire Tuesday night, at least he left out the America the Beautiful.
Ron Paul’s eyes nearly popped from their sockets when he said of himself and his supporters, “We are DANGEROUS.” He meant, of course, “to the status quo,” but it’s a problem when those outside your diehard fan club are actually terrified. I’m pretty sure no one wrote down Paul’s address before he delivered it. Not even Paul. It meandered aimlessly from one kooky anti-government proclamation to the next, constantly returning to his preoccupation with the gold standard. The speech was circular in structure and in logic: “But freedom, if you understand it, you should all fight for freedom because you want to exert your freedom the way you want.”
Huntsman began his speech by awkwardly exclaiming, “We’re in the hunt!” But he has nowhere to go but down in South Carolina. And leave the bad puns to ComPost, Mr. Ambassador. Throughout, it struck me as too bad that Huntsman isn’t a more charismatic speaker. His message of moderation is by far the most appealing in the field.
In Iowa last week, Santorum delivered a moving homage to his parents and grandparents. In New Hampshire Tuesday night, much of the spark was gone. His references to family were confusing. And he couldn’t say much positive about his low finish in the Granite State: “We have a campaign here!”
Aside from Huntsman’s, Gingrich’s speech was probably the best of the evening — a lot about promoting American innovation, not so much about eviscerating Romney in the next contest. Still, he shamelessly pandered by promising lower fuel prices. And even the relatively more cerebral Gingrich let this confusing sequence past his editor’s pen: “What if you just were innovative? What if you just had new approaches? What if you just did everything Americans have always done?”
I’m beginning to hope Romney wraps this nomination up soon. I don’t know how many more of these I can take.