Mike Flynn, Editor Big Government:
Little known fact; during the last GOP debate in Iowa, the RNC held their holiday party at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in DC. There weren’t any TVs among the open bars. So, no one at the RNC was actually watching the debate among candidates vying to be the standard-bearer of the party. Perhaps the RNC has throw parties during all of these debates. How else to explain its continuing acquiescence in letting the legacy media pay inquisitors to its nominees? The GOP field actually did well combatting some of silliness from Diane Sawyer, Snuffleupagas and some guy we’ll never hear from again. But, the American public was short-changed in getting 1 hour and 41 minutes (!) of chatter on issues that almost no one outside of the hard left cares about. (2 questions on the economy…kinda?) Et tu RNC?
The obvious big winner of the night was Mitt Romney. Inexplicably, he largely escaped criticism from his fellow nominees. Weirder still, as Romney is vulnerable to at least 25 attacks from the right, is the fact that Newt, et al decided to attack him from the left. Being in the same room as Snuffleupagas will do that to you I guess.
The other big winner was Ron Paul. One would have thought he were the front-runner given the attention he received from the moderator and other nominees. Santorum, inexplicably finding himself in the big leagues, reverted to form and acted like a candidate who is simply trying to get attention. His initial statement that America doesn’t need a CEO or manager, but a leader is frankly baffling. I think it speaks to a personal insecurity that he has virtually no private sector experience and no executive experience. Making awesome speeches on the House or Senate floor is not a leader. He was like a player called up to the majors who whiffed at every at-bat. Santomentum is fading.
Newt seemed neutered. He did a great professorial turn at times and reminded me how great he is in this medium, but he need to draw distinctions. He didn’t.
Perry did well, but he was mostly irrelevant tonight. He started with a great theme about Washington insiders, but pulled his punches in the end. He didn’t screw up, but he needs to quickly put points on the board.
Huntsman spoke Chinese.
Whatever happens in November, whomever at the RNC approved these debate formats needs to find a new line of work.
Alex Marlow, Managing Editor, Breitbart.com:
Fitting for a Saturday night, the tenor of the New Hampshire debate was decidedly business casual. The remaining Republican presidential candidates intermittently discussed some of the most important issues of the day between answering questions on the constitutionality of contraception and whether or not they believe it’s the government’s job to “invest” more in “infrastructure” (presumably so we can get more of those American Recovery and Reinvestment Act road signs). George Snuffleupagus was an utter embarrassment as a moderator; his gotcha line of questioning was as ineffectual as it was transparent. I don’t hold it against him, though; after all, he is a Clintonista. The blame lies squarely with ABC, who thought he was an appropriate moderator for a GOP primary debate. Diane Sawyer wasn’t exactly professional either, giggling like a school-girl getting her tootsies tickled throughout much of the night. Yep, it was the MSM vs. the GOP again, and I’m happy to say the GOP won this round handily.
Regarding the candidates, we’re officially at the point in the campaign where if Romney doesn’t obviously lose, he’s the winner by default. He was steady as usual and no one landed a clean blow to him. Mitt’s take-down of Snuffy over the bizarre contraception question was the highlight of the night. Newt was also impressive, particularly when he drew attention to bigotry against Christians. Curiously, Rick Perry said he’d send troops back to Iraq and Santorum wasn’t able to capitalize on his Iowa momentum. Towards the end of the festivities, we were finally reminded that Jon Huntsman was a member of the Obama administration, just before the Mongolian Candidate broke into Chinese to order some Szechuan Shrimp (I think…).
Joel Pollak, Editor Breitbart.com:
This was one of the best debates for the Republican field, because the candidates finally defeated their media inquisitors (they’re not “moderators” when they demand the Republicans meet left-wing standards). Gov. Mitt Romney absolutely squashed George Stephanopoulos’s attempt to use a bizarre question about contraceptives to cast him and the rest of the candidates as religious extremists. Speaker Newt Gingrich stood up to Diane Sawyer on the issue of gay marriage by challenging the anti-Christian bigotry of the left and the mainstream media. Sen. Rick Santorum challenged the premise of the term “middle class,” insisting that the United States is not a class-based society. It was amusing to watch the post-debate analysis on ABC as the journalists described their dismay that the candidates didn’t do more to attack each other, and to attack Romney in particular. There were a few attacks–Santorum did very well defending his record in response to Rep. Ron Paul–but the candidates have learned that Republican voters will not reward them for playing to the mainstream media’s tune. They know (most of them, anyway) that the main target is Barack Obama, and the candidate that wins will be the one that shows the strongest, most effective contrast to the president.