Last night the leading Republican contenders for the Presidential nomination in 2012 got together in Florida for a debate sponsored by the Tea Party.
I'll give a breakdown by candidate.
For my money, Newt Gingrich won this debate. Lots of sound policy statements. Newt showed everyone in the audience why he is the smartest guy in the room. He issued lots of home run statements and got the crowd fired up. I've always thought Newt Gingrich would be one of our best candidates, because he would dismantle Obama in a debate. Unfortunately, Newt should have run for President years ago. His messy divorce and his extramarital affairs have left his brand crippled. He won't be winning this election.
Governor Rick Perry
Perry did better than in his first debate, but still dealt with the lions share of the attacks as he is currently the front runner. He got smacked around in the Gardasil argument and didn't fully explain his way out of it... but he did admit to making a mistake with that vaccine program.
Perry also surprisingly drew some boos from the crowd for his support of in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants. But, being true to form, he didn't backtrack or waffle on his position.
Romney, again, looked smooth and polished and seemed very Presidential. I'm no fan of his, but I agree he won the first debate. But Gingrich won this one. Romney hasn't done anything to help him catch Perry in the polls. This debate didn't change that, either.
Bachmann finally came out swinging and nailed Rick Perry on his Gardasil controversy. She may have had the best comeback of the night when she responded to Perry saying he was offended by responding that she was offended for all the little girls to whom Perry wanted to dictate vaccinations. Bachmann also nailed Romney by saying that he and Perry weren't committed to getting rid of Obamacare, because as Governors they had allowed similar programs in exist in their states.
Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, Ron Paul
I'll lump these guys together since they all have ZERO chance of winning. Perry is up to 30% in the polls and these guys can't break out of the single digits.
Santorum should drop out. He offers nothing the others don't.
Huntsman made a weird reference to Kurt Cobain that had the Twitter universe in stitches. People were mocking him online for the rest of the night.
Herman Cain showed nothing new or notable.
Ron Paul had his usual moment of weirdness when he blamed the US for being attacked.
He showed that he has earned the nickname "Congressman Magneto" from people in the Twitter and Facebook universe.
The candidates with the biggest complaints last night had to be Gary Johnson, a two-term Governor from New Mexico, and sitting Congressman Thaddeus McCotter. They continue to be disinvited from these forums, even though people like Santorum and Huntsman -- who also have no chance -- continue to eat up valuable airtime.
WINNER: Newt Gingrich.
Second Place: Michele Bachmann