The debate was a bit of a mixed bag with no clear-cut winners or losers.
Here is the breakdown:
Newt Gingrich—Newt had horrible moments and great moments. When Newt goes on and on explaining why he was paid $1.6 million by a federal entity to NOT be a lobbyist, he doesn’t pass the laugh test. And when he prattles on about what a celebrity he is and how he can make $60,000 a speech he makes Mitt Romney look like a full-time homeless advocate. But Newt also had great moments. Let’s face it; there is no one better in the Republican field at expressing contempt for Obama, Liberals and the judiciary than Newt. There is a huge faction of the GOP that feels contempt for all things Democratic and Newt oozes their contempt better than Oprah exudes empathy for housewives. Newt held his own for the evening.
Mitt Romney-Mitt was Mitt, calm, cool and collected. He didn’t make any $10,000 betting blunders but he also didn’t land any strong blows toward Gingrich. Romney’s worst moment was when Fox’s Chris Wallace read chapter and verse on all the liberal positions Romney has expressed, specifically on gay rights. Watching Romney dance away from his past while claiming to not be dancing away from his past is always a fun show, and it’s a reminder why the majority of the conservative party does not trust or like Romney.
Jon Huntsman—Jon opened really strongly. He gave a nice slam against Donald Trump and not turning himself into a pretzel by pandering to interest groups or The Donald. It was a clever jab at both Newt and Romney. Huntsman also gave a great message on banking reform that was both conservative and populist and courageous. He didn’t do or say much of anytime else of interest in the debate. Still, more and more eyes are looking at Huntsman as party leaders hope and pray that Gingrich will collapse and the Party will have to move on to the next non-Mitt.
Ron Paul—Ron was consistent, as always. Yes, Paul had some of the biggest applause lines of the night. And he also had people gasping at his foreign policy views. Paul was audacious and honest when he labeled Gingrich’s cashing in on Freddie Mac as “Fascism.” Every liberal Democrat and moderate in the country fell in love with Paul when he labeled Gingrich’s money-making escapades “Fascism.” Unfortunately for Paul, they don’t get to vote in Republican primaries or caucuses.
Rick Perry—Rick has a good night anytime he can remember his name. Perry had some sprightly moments and got in the sound bite of the night claiming he wants to be like “Tim Tebow.” Had Perry debated like this in his first few debates, chances are he’d still be the front-runner. But now, Perry just seems like a “Forrest Gump” character, albeit one who doesn’t like gays.
Michele Bachmann—Michelle had a good night and fired off some great shots against Newt. Her problem is that both the high brow and the low brow wings of the Republican Party have written her off. She’s never recovered from earlier demagogic stumbles and it just doesn’t matter what she does in debates any longer.
Rick Santorum—Rick still looks and sounds like a 2-term congressman. On paper, Santorum could and should be a frontrunner (at least for 3 weeks) but he has all the charisma of a three-week old tuna fish sandwich.
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