by Jen Green
I liked this debate. I liked the format. It was less formal, less stilted, and the candidates seemed more willing to give some real answers and not strings of cliches. Well, except Huntsman. He lamed joked and “Utah’ed” his way through as usual. But, he’s just the comic relief.
I didn’t think anyone did badly, although I think it will hurt both Cain and Romney that they defended their support of the TARP. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan took a beating, but he defended it in an “everyman” kind of way that the general populace will respond to. Set back on his heels last night, Cain had less opportunity to zing the one-liners as he defended himself and his plan.
And the promised Cain “going after Romney” never materialized. His question about “is your plan simple” was a tee up, not a take down. I still say the fix is in.
Bachmann had her best debate since the Tea Party debate. She looked people in the eyes, showed her chops on tax law, and kept the campaign slogans to a minimum. She did a great job answering the audience member’s question on small business, too, endearing herself to the audience. Maybe Michele the congressman is starting to re-emerge . . . no more Michele the candidate. Good riddance.
Paul was not as grumpy as usual and he was spot on in asking Herman Cain about what he would do with the Federal Reserve. But my favorite Paul moment was, “Alan Greenspan was a disaster!” after Cain said Greenspan was a Fed chairman he respected. That kind of honesty in D.C. is just rare.
Perry did okay. He had some good points, especially the one he was trying to make after the Reagan clip. Problem is his delivery–next to the rest of the pack (except maybe Paul), he just does not articulate his message well. But, if he had performed at this level in the first two debates, he wouldn’t be sinking like a stone in the polls.
Santorum did a very good job with the time and questions given him. I particularly liked his answer on the economy being a moral issue. He does the most consistent job of linking his worldview to his overall governing philosophy.
And then there’s Newt. He did a great job. In fact, I found myself wishing it was just him and Charlie sitting at the table having this discussion. He was, in my opinion, the winner of the night. The media probably won’t give it to him, but I will.