Mitt Romney continues to display competence and confidence, but his rhetoric doesn’t soar and the base is inherently skeptical of his record, so he hasn’t quite put this thing away.
Last time I wrote about these debates, I said the vaudeville cane should have dragged Perry away, and his cerebral flatulence tonight proved me right. His inability to remember the three federal departments he would cut was easily the most awkward moment of the primary season thus far. The “SNL” staff writers are eternally grateful, I’m sure.
Herman Cain has planted his–to quote Perry–big ole flag with 9-9-9, and he’s going to sink or swim with it. In what seemed to be a heavily coached performance, Cain pivoted nearly every answer to the merits of his proposed tax plan. Cain has been arguably the most articulate candidate on the stage when it comes to having an inspirational vision for America’s future in the context of its past, and it’s beyond me why he would rather singularly focus on a specific policy (which may not pass, let alone work) than on that vision. Thankfully, it looks as though this debate will mark the moment where America began to move on from the sexual harassment claims leveled against Cain. That is, of course, unless more details emerge or another accuser steps forward…
But the winner of the debate was Newt. I mentioned last time that he’s my sleeper pick to challenge Romney, and he did a lot to improve his chances tonight.
He has a knack for keeping the problems in front of him–he has a clear and creative response to any challenge that floats his way (that doesn’t include the word “Tiffany’s” in it). His unremitting skepticism of the media is beyond refreshing and a Newt Gingrich candidacy would go a long way to fight the left-wing smear that the GOP is anti-intellectual.
When it comes to media criticism, some of the other candidates have begun to take Newt’s lead. At least a half a dozen times the candidates had the CNBC moderators on the defensive, and that should make those of us who fight the rampant and malignant liberal bias in the mainstream media very, very pleased.