The last Republican presidential primary debate before the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 was basically a tie without a definitive moment, Democratic political analyst Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.
The 13th debate of the year, which Fox News and the Iowa Republican Party hosted Thursday night in Sioux City, Iowa, will not do much to help any of the candidates pull in undecided voters, Schoen said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
“I think Newt Gingrich gave them some red meat and something to think about, and I think Mitt Romney did certainly a credible job, and Ron Paul repeated his core themes. So from where I sit, it remains a work in progress,” he said.
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An unscientific poll that Fox News conducted after the debate that “showed 60 percent liked Romney and 59 liked Newt Gingrich got it about right,” Schoen said.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, whose numbers in the polls have remained static for months, will have to do more than just pick up his game if he hopes to break out of the pack, he said.
“In primary politics and especially caucus politics you not only have to pick up your game but you have to give people a reason to go out and vote,” he said. “And so what I think he has to do is offer a compelling argument as to why he is the strongest candidate against Barack Obama and what he’s going to do for America that’s going to effect the kind of change people want.”
At this moment, former House Speaker Gingrich has “a slight advantage” among the GOP candidates, but “that advantage has narrowed considerably in the last week,” Schoen said
“As we sit here today, the president certainly is vulnerable,” Schoen said. “He’s no better than 50-50 for re-election. I think all the polls have shown that Romney at this point runs better than Gingrich or Ron Paul but ultimately elections are referenda on the incumbent and as we sit here today I think the president worries about any Republican nominee who I think would have a very compelling and likely chance of beating him.”
On other issues during the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Schoen said:
* The debate over building the Keystone XL pipeline is a good issue for the GOP, but it’s not “a game changer.”
* Gov. Rick Perry’s misstatements and poor debate performances make it unlikely that he’ll get “back into first or second place.”
*There is a three-way tie in Iowa between Gingrich, Romney and Rep. Ron Paul but with his solid constituency Paul could “pull a surprise” if turnout is low in the caucuses.
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