Tonight’s debate was focused on the economy. For the most part, the candidates and moderators stayed focused on it. The debate was different, in that most of the moderators are economic reporters. It made for some interesting moments.
First let me just say that I believe Senator Rick Santorum, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Governor Jon Huntsman should really consider getting out of the race. I know, not a single vote has been cast yet, but none look ready for a “big break out” and none of them really helped themselves tonight.
Representative Ron Paul had some good moments, especially when he was talking about how government involvement in college education, that far from helping, has only driven the costs higher and higher. His rants against the Federal Reserve are now stuff of legend, and he didn’t let up on them tonight either. Let’s face it, this is normally Ron Paul’s strongest topic, the economy. I thought he did pretty well with it again, tonight.
Businessman Herman Cain did fairly well. He was forceful and calm, when asked about the sexual harassment claims against him. He certainly is a guy who doesn’t back down from a fight. I think most people find that a very positive trait in a candidate. He stuck to his “999″ plan script. Although repetitive, there is no doubt he is confident in his plan. He may, very well, have helped himself tonight.
I almost felt sorry for Governor Rick Perry. I know the big story out of this debate, will be when Governor Perry, forgot the 3rd out of three agencies he planned to cut from the Federal Government. He did mention what it was a little later, but some will hold this against him. Frankly, it is only human to have a “forgetful moment” even when the topic is this important. Anyone over 40 years of age should know exactly what I mean. I certainly don’t hold this against him, but I am sure others will. I am much more concerned with his overall debate performances over the last few months. He just doesn’t look like he could go “toe to toe” with President Obama in a debate. Could this “moment” end his candidacy? Sure, it could, but I suspect not, since he has plenty of money to contend for the first month or 2 of the primary season.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich looked, as he normally does, like the smartest guy in the room. His range of ideas and breath of knowledge really is impressive. Yet he can explain things in a very understandable manner. His answer to the housing question in particular, he said “When you are at four percent unemployment, you suddenly have a dramatic increase in demand for housing. When you’re at nine percent- plus unemployment, it’s hard to get the housing market to come back.” It is really that simple. Very strong performance tonight for Speaker Gingrich. He clearly belongs in the “top tier” of candidates.
Governor Mitt Romney was very calm and relaxed. He didn’t fall for the “bait” with the question about Cain’s character. He didn’t have to fight off any strong challenge to his healthcare plan when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He did face questions about his “flip flopping”, but he deflected those pretty effectively with his answer about being in his church his whole life and married to his wife for 42 years. When asked why none of his 59 point economic plan had anything to do with housing he said “Yes, because it’s not a housing plan. It’s a jobs plan.” Good stuff. He went on, like Speaker Gingrich did, to explain how a good economy fixes the housing market.
I think Speaker Gingrich and Governor Romney were the winners tonight. Mr Cain was not too far behind. I think those 3 are your “top tier” at the moment. Governor Perry really was the only one who hurt himself and it may just continue his slide in the polls.
Let me make a mention about the moderators for the debate. Whoever thought that Jim Cramer would be a “good” moderator for a debate, needs their head examined. His extreme ego and his fondness for Democrats is a bad enough start, but badgering candidates who don’t agree with you? And going on these long pronouncements before he asks a question? It was as if, he graced us with his presence after descending Mnt. Cramer to mingle with us know nothing, little people. Get over yourself Jim, you would sound much better as a wrestling announcer then a debate moderator.
Now in defense of Maria Bartiromo, and her question to Herman Cain about the sexual harassment charges, I know people booed, but really come on, you have to expect them to ask about it. It really wasn’t overdone (well until the ‘after debate’ interview with him when they badgered him about it). It is a question that any reporter would have had to ask, and in fact Cain probably helped himself with his strong denials of it.
Overall, I thought it was a good debate. Speaker Gingrich, probably helped himself the most, while Governor Perry, hurt himself the most.