It was an interesting debate. I think the country would be better served by more debates with lengthier discussions between the candidates. The need to have such short answers actually leads to the attempts at soundbites rather than substantive talk. I’ll discuss my views on each candidate’s performance in the order they were lined up on the stage. I will not delve deeply into any of their platforms at this time, though.
Rick Santorum – It seemed like he was ignored for so long, I was happy when he spoke up about it. He came across as a candidate worth more consideration. I was impressed with his moral convictions, something some of us on some issues waiver on and then we just chalk it up to “tolerance”. His anti-abortion views really moved me. Santorum came across as very knowledgeable on foreign affairs, but not out of his depth on domestic ones. Although I was happy with him speaking up about being passed over on questions the first time, he needed to control his display of frustration better the second time. I hope he does well enough in the straw poll on Saturday to stay in the race for another debate.
Herman Cain – I would like to see Herman Cain involved in the next administration, but not as the president. I feel confident in his managerial and leadership abilities to help pave the way for tax reform, entitlement reform, and get our economy back on the right track. However, I would worry about his lack of experience in foreign affairs. I am sure he would do better than the current occupant of the White House has, but the world moves fast and the country can not afford another learn-on-the-job president. Cain saying “America’s got to learn how to take a joke” was the best line of the night.
Ron Paul – I am always happy to have Ron Paul in the debate because he has some very interesting ideas. But his isolationist views are unrealistic and dangerous. His Libertarian views are pretty extreme at times, but there is a place for them in the discussion. He needs to be more careful in articulating them because he always runs the risk as being dismissed as a crack pot.
Mitt Romney – He avoided the fray which surprised me. Other than the Obomney care topic, which he handled masterfully, and the Tim Pawlenty joke about mowing his lawn, nobody laid a hand on him. Nor did they attempt to. I suppose at this point the field is battling amongst themselves to survive and will wait to take on Mitt at a later time. Romney came across as a strong candidate, but he simply reminds me of one of the establishment. Most politicians just say what the audience wants to hear, and I just can’t get past that with Romney.
Michele Bachmann – I love her in Congress, but she showed that she is not prepared for an executive role. She wasted an opportunity to articulate her stance on not raising the debt ceiling under any circumstances. Although I agree with her on principle, I think almost everyone agrees that in order to get something done, the debt ceiling needed to be raised. I can understand the thought of treating the Feds as a drug addict and locking them up in detox as the only way to purge their system of spending, but the reality is it needs to be a multiple step program. She just repeated her mantra instead of articulating why she believed not raising the debt ceiling would have worked. She did weather some tough questions and appeared to be under attack most of the night. She appears unflappable in that regard.
Tim Pawlenty – He just does not come across presidential. I get the impression he is very intelligent and could do a decent job running the country, but almost better as the guy behind the scenes. He just does not have a presence in the room and does not connect to the audience.
Jon Huntsman – Same as Pawlenty. He seems like a great guy and I would not fear him being president, but he just did not do anything for me. I would like to see him in another debate, though, and get to learn more about him. I hope he sticks around long enough to give him a chance to speak about his record. I hear Utah did well under his direction, but what exactly did he do?
Newt Gingrich – He won the debate as far as I am concerned. If I was forced to vote tomorrow, I would be strongly tempted to vote for Gingrich. He can speak on any topic with great knowledge. He did a wonderful job speaking on what he thought this country needed to do RIGHT NOW! That showed great leadership. He also demonstrated how he has been a part of leading our country in the past in getting welfare reform passed when Bill Clinton was in office.
I say the three winners were Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney, in that order.