Last nights Republican Presidential Debate went off in New Hampshire and got pretty good reviews, even if there was a lack of conflict between the contestants.
Media sources tended to see Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann as the winners, with lesser degrees of success for the other candidates.
Here are some of the notes I took during the debate:
Michele Bachmann, I feel, did the best of any candidate. She came roaring from the back of the pack and is now clearly in 2nd place behind Romney, in my opinion. She was clear and concise in her answers and didn't waffle...except when asked to choose between Elvis and Johnny Cash -- which was an idiotic question to begin with (didn't CNN ask to see some of John Kings notes before the debate? ).
Bachmann stood her ground and was smiling and polite and charming, and directed most of her firepower at Barack Obama. She announced her candidacy from the stage (a clever move with millions watching) and she also got the biggest cheers of the night when she said "Obama is a one term President! We are going to win!!"
Bachmann emphasized how she was the first Congressional member to try to repeal Obamacare. She hammered Obama on his hypocrisy on the Debt Ceiling by using his own words from a previous year. And in my opinion, she hit the most magical moment of the night when she talked about her pro-life views by quoting the Constitution and saying "I stand for life, from conception to natural death." She scored big-time points there.
The thing about the debate that made me the most queasy was the unshakable feeling that we are going to have Romney as our candidate in 2012. In fact, I raise his chances to 65% now with his certain victories in New Hampshire and Nevada eliminating most of the field early. I still view Romney with suspicion and distrust. In my book, he is a flip-flopping RINO who is not a Conservative and should not even be considered. However, the more moderate factions of my party like him just fine. Romney scored points last night because he came in as the leader in the polls and nobody laid a glove on him. Surprisingly, Tim Pawlenty kind of wimped out when offered a shot to confront Romney on Obamneycare, as Pawlenty had called it on Sunday.
Nobody else showed much interest in attacking Romney, so he walks away still in the lead.
Romney only had one line I liked, and that was when he said "Obama gave GM to the UAW." That is a powerful line that will work well for him in the general election.
Tim Pawlenty was probably the biggest loser of the night. Liberal media has been hyping him as the best Republican candidate, which means that they think he is the perfect loser for Obama to face in 2012. Pawlenty wimped out on confronting Romney... possibly, because I think Pawlenty is actually running for Vice President. Pawlenty had a good line when he talked about business owners moving away from certain states and asking him to "Get the government off my back." Pawlenty is a nice enough guy, but he is in third place and falling fast.
Newt Gingrich kept his struggling campaign afloat and did reasonably well in the debate. Gingrich is a smart, talented, and capable leader. He could probably have ended up in the White House if his social life hadn't been so damn messy. Gingrich did a reasonably good job of explaining his criticisms of the Ryan Budget plan and pointing out that "We all got mad at Obama because he ran over us." I liked Gingrichs toughness on certain issues. When Herman Cain was waffling over Muslims in government, Gingrich was tough and confrontational about the question. Gingrich also pointed out some fallacies in the questions asked by the moderator. He is hanging in there ... for now.
Ron Paul was another one of the losers of last nights debate. He looked like a cranky old grandpa for most of the evening. I don't think I saw him smile once. He relied on his tired old criticisms of big government, even though he has been an elected member of that exact same big government for about 30 years. I'm not a fan of eminent domain, so I liked his line that "Government should not be able to take private land to give it to a corporation." He continued to beat the drum for the anti-war crowd by saying that we should cut the budget by "cutting the money from foreign warfare". Ron Paul has run for President two other times. He will get the same result in 2012.
Something about Rick Santorums attitude was very off-putting to me. At times he was bragging about himself too much. I like some of Santorums conservative beliefs, but he will not win this race. His best quote of the night was on immigration when he said "My Grandfather didn't come here because he wanted a government benefit...he came here because he wanted freedom!"
Herman Cain had started to generate a little buzz for himself after the South Carolina debate, but he didn't do as well here. When talking about the financial meltdown in 2008, he said "It's a mess. An absolute mess!" Yeah....and?? He also shot himself in the foot when trying to backtrack on his stance on keeping Muslims out of his government. Me personally, I have no problem with that stance. In fact, I like it. The primary goal of Islam is to dominate and enslave the rest of the world. I prefer a politician to have stronger views on that issue, but Cain double-talked and waffled and still couldn't make his view clear. He should have expected that question and knocked it out of the park. Cain stumbled last night. He won't win the race.
Nobody talked about the 800 pound gorilla in the room: the fact that Sarah Palin might still enter the race. I think it is a fact they would all prefer not to consider.
I came away from the debate thinking that if Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, or Chris Christie want to jump into this race, they should probably do it pretty soon. Things are starting to heat up, and Michele Bachmann just won herself a huge number of fans last night.