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The Grade From Last Night's Debate: Romney and Bachmann Clear Winners


Mitt’s Night

Mitt Romney did his self favors last night by looking and behaving the part as emerging front runner. I thought his answers were sharp and to the point and he did nothing to hurt his stock. I didn’t get the feeling that there was a lot of reaching and groping from Romney. Something I distinctly recall he sometimes did during 2007. He has certainly learned from his past experiences and was by far the most polished performer on stage. He made the debate about Obama and continuously reinforced that on on almost every question. His best line of the night: “Anyone on this stage would do a better job then President Obama.” The most important aspect of Romney’s performance last night is that he reminded everyone he has a wide open road with the clearest path to nomination. He is filling the suit as the likely front runner.

Bachmann’s Stage

I don’t know if Michelle Bachmann was the beneficiary from the element of the unknown, but whatever the case was she did not disappoint. As far as style points and energy; she simply owned the stage last night. She was articulate. Even her more passionate responses were on point and settling. Judging from her performance, her stock is likely to rise. If there was one hitch in her performance it was her shuffling act on gay marriage. I got her answer the first time: No president should interfere with a state’s business provided they are not breaking laws or going against the Constitution. Elementary. I liked her answer the first time. It made her standout and she brought a little bit of principle to a charged topic. However, when the Constitutional Amendment meme picked up she jumped on board. In a venue where there are seven candidates and with numerous opinions, it’s sometimes hard to carve out real estate. I understood her point the first time and wished she would have left it at that. However, that is a very minor hitch in an otherwise stellar performance.

Ron Paul, Yes Ron Paul

And for one simple and memorable moment in the debate. Paul made it abundantly clear last night that the president is the Commander-in-Chief. For that, he jumped up. On Afghanistan, he said it is up to the president to make decisions, not the generals running the war. I liked it and it separated him from the rest, at least on that issue. Republican candidates are too often guilty of making sure they are not viewed as doves. They stroke the egos of the hawks and make it as though our generals are infallible. Recent and ancient history shows that is hardly the case. It takes a strong civilian leader to be commander-in-chief. It takes a decider. A president should not acquiescence on that part of the job. He should consider all expert opinion and valued information and go from there as America’s elected leader. The others better start getting that, especially since a great majority of Americans are getting tired of our foreign wars.

Newt the Rock

Newt Gingrich has probably capped out as far as support goes. His troubled campaign isn’t doing him much good at this point. But he showed his experience, power of ideas, and has a certainty about him that gave him a noticeable presence — if nothing else — among his peers. If I knew nothing about him or his faltering campaign, I would be inclined to say Gingrich is going to be a formidable candidate. However, that’s not the case. Unfortunately, I think the ceiling is low for Gingrich. Having said that, I think Newt would be a heck of an asset in someone’s administration. No one doubt’s Gingrich’s intellectual abilities and his reputation for ideas speak for themselves. He did well but that’s it. The “Newt the Rock” can be taken in one or two ways: Solid and formidable or dead weight and hard to read. I’m not sure at this point and he is to blame for that.

Cain Disappointed

Herman Cain’s metrics to problem solving: 1) Define the problem, 2) Think real hard, and 3) Fix the problem is starting to wear thin. He looked a little light on details and depth. As the debates and scrutiny pickup, Cain may come up short in the battle for ideas. I think his principles are sound. I also feel he is a firm believer in the things he speaks about. He is definitely authentic and talented. His rising popularity is evidence of those qualities. Having said that, Cain did not raise his ceiling in last night’s debate. For whatever reason, he put it in a less than average performance. Most importantly, he needs to drop the Muslim stuff. No matter how many agree, the media are going to chew him up and will do their best to make that a issue for the entire GOP.

Santorum Reinforced His Limited Role

Santorum reinforced his campaign and did nothing to take away from his message. In those respects, it was a solid individual performance and he reminded us all that he put in some work in Washington. For some reason though, he is forgettable and is campaign looks narrow. Maybe that’s my problem and not his.

Pawlenty Steadily Boring

He had one good moment that I can recall and that was his answer on separation of church and state. It was eloquent, and, in my opinion, outstanding. Like Santorum, to me, he is forgettable. But unlike Santourm, Pawlenty is flat. Lastly, he failed to engage Romney. If his strategy is not to go after the front runner this early in the game, that’s fine. Good call. But don’t do it on a national news program then fail to do it in a face to face meeting. He did his self no favors last night. He’ll have to pick it up very soon.


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