Three of the four candidates made personal appearances in the Spin Room after the undercard debate tonight. Coming out last, Mike Huckabee offered his thoughts on the debate itself, pronouncing himself impressed. “I give it an A,” Huckabee said, telling reporters that Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash were prepared and followed up well. “It was not a game show,” Huckabee said, adding that it was “nothing like the CNBC debate”:
Only Rick Santorum did not make an appearance, at least not for a while. Most of the gaggle clustered around Lindsey Graham, so much so that Graham could not be seen. Pataki, who came out first, did get a fair amount of attention, but at least one reporter asked Pataki why he isn’t working to meet ballot deadlines. That didn’t get much of an answer, but perhaps the RNC might start looking at that in future debate qualification decisions.
Judging by the attention from the press in the Spin Room, Graham may have made the most significant impact in the undercard debate — which is not to say he necessarily won it. I thought all of the candidates had good moments in the debate, but the relentless focus on national security plays directly into Graham’s strength. Santorum sounded measured and well-informed, Pataki and Huckabee perhaps a little less so. It would be a toss-up for me between Graham and Santorum, but the likelihood of either of them getting a boost out of this is somewhere between slim and none.