In the Third Debate, Romney Wins,Cain, Gingrich and Santorum Shine. Rick Perry Bombs.

Bookmark and Share    Before we get in to the details, while White House 2012 is happy to provide you with one opinion of last night’s debate, we are also happy to provide you with both a complete transcript of the debate which can be found here and with a complete video version of the debate which is below this post.   Also, take the White House 2012 poll and let us know who you think won last night’s debate.

Now for the assessment;

With nine candidates and over 20,000 questions submitted by American voters, as one White House 2012 reader put it, last night’s Republican presidential debate was more of a Q and A than a debate.  Still, the forum did provide the opportunity for some engaging, albeit brief exchanges.  While most of those exchanges and some of the longest ones too, were between frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, others like Rick Santorum also took advantage of the those exchanges, land some punches, and score some points……….at Rick Perry’s expense.

Insofar as winners and losers go, if there was a winner, it would have to be Mitt Romney.  Not so much for the quality of his answers,  but for his performance and ability to use the rules of the debate to his advantage and his main rivals disadvantage.  One such example was Romney’s presence of mind while under pressure, to deny Rick Perry the chance to counter any of his verbal punches, by not mentioning Perry by name. 

One of the debate rules was that if a candidate referred to you by name, you would have 30 seconds for rebuttal.  On issues such as Social Security and immigration, while Romney laid into Perry’s record quite extensively, he would go so far as to look straight at Perry, but never mentioned him by name.  At the same time there, was no misunderstanding who he was talking about.  But Perry was left leaning against the ropes and unable to fight back.

As for Romney’s answers to the questions he was asked, the former Massachusetts Governor made no mistakes and never once departed off of the conservative line.  Throughout the debate, Romney offered decent answers that no conservative could have a problem with.  On that score, since he walked away from this debate without giving any Republican a reason to vote against him, he most certainly wins.  The only area in which Romney failed was his passing up of the chance  to break new policy ground and  prove himself to be a bold leader who will think outside of the box and be the anti-establishment hero that many are looking for.

 At the same time, not ony did Perry miss the chance to become that bold hero many are looking for, he walked away from this debate with less than he had when he first walked on to the stage.

At times, Perry seemed lost for words and when he tried to throw some body blows to his critics, he missed.  Such was the case when after Rick Santorum stated that he found Governor Perry to be soft on illegal immigration.  To that charge Perry could only say, “I’ve got one question for him. Have you ever even been to the border with Mexico?”

To which Santorum replied simply “Yes”.

For Perry, Thursday’s debate took him two steps back, not one step forward.  This was especially the case on the issue of illegal immigration.  On that Perry  threw out a remark that will leave a negative impression of him in the  minds of many conservatives for quite some time. 

When he and Mitt Romney engaged in debate over Perry’s approval of offering discounted in-state tuition rates for the children of illegal aliens,  Perry claimed  “If you say that we should not educate children (illegal immigrant children) who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought their through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” .  That remark seemed to cross a line, and not one with just the other candidates on the stage, but with the millions of conservatives in the American listening audience.  For many, it was the type of liberal attempt to make one feel guilty for the justified logic behind their own position.  Perry’s answer was a strange spin on another famous Texans attempt to be a “compassionate conservative”. however, while Perry’s slant on that phrase may have been compassionate,  it was not conservative.

But neither Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney let Perry get away with his claim.  In fact Romney swung a home run right over Perry’s head on the issue. 

“I’ve got be honest with you, I don’t see how it is that a state like Texas — to go to the University of Texas, if you’re an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount. You know how much that is? That’s $22,000 a year. Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you are an illegal alien go to the University of Texas. If you are a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn’t make sense to me.” , said Romney.

But illegal immigration was not Perry’s only weakness last night.

Tell us who you think won the presidential debate

Right off the bat, Perry was asked about the number one issue in America today…….jobs. When asked where his jobs plan was? Perry answered, “Well, you will see a more extensive jobs plan.”    Sorry buddy, but telling voters that the dog ate your homework does not cut it in the real world.  Perry just looked stupid on that one. 

So we have our winner of the debate and the loser of the debate.  What about those in between?

Michele Bachmann had a few strong but routine answers but essentially, she was just there.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul.  While his cheering section hooted and hollered at his every word, his words were the same as usual and lacked the explanation of how he could successfully apply his libertarianism to government. 

Performing better than Paul, was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.  Despite being a Republican libertarian who is little known, Johnson was able to do something that Paul could not.  he was able to point to actual accomplishments.  At times, he even provided answers that put him on an equal footing with some of his better known opponents such as Romney and Perry.  When asked why he would be a better choice as a libertarian-Republican than Congressman Paul, Johnson replied I’m not going to presume to make that assumption” , but he then went on to  to distinguish himself from Pau quite well……… 

“I would like to say that I do bring a unique perspective to this stage. I started a one-man handyman business in Albuquerque in 1974 and grew it to over 1,000 employees. I have run for two political offices in my life: governor of New Mexico and reelection. I promise to submit a balanced budget to congress in the year 2013. I promise to veto legislation where expenditures exceed revenue. And if anybody doubts my willingness to veto bills, I think I vetoed more bills than any governor in the history of the United States. I think I vetoed more bills than all the other governors in the country combined.  Add to that, throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax, the fair tax, which would absolutely reboot the American economy because it does away with the corporate tax to create tens of millions of jobs in this country.”

Johnson’s answer was strong and compelling.

In the  case of Newt Gingrich, he proved once again that he is ideologically the most true conservative and the most savvy.  But he did not distinguish himself as the one who could best institute his conservative concepts into government and he failed to overcome his biggest hurdle…..electability.   Interestingly though,  based on a question asked about picking a running mate from among those on the stage, most of the candidates chose Newt to be their wingman.

Herman Cain had a solid performance but not one that was strong enough to push those at the top of the field out of his way.

Perhaps the saddest performance came from Jon Huntsman. 

As in his first debate appearance, Huntsman tried to be funny, but as he waited for burst of laughter to ring out whenever he reached his punchline, crickets were heard.   It was very uncomfortable.  And to make matters worse, he really offered nothing worth while.  The most he seems tohave for us are boilerplate answers with hands extended outwards and a stiff delivery of bad attempts at humor.

All in all, given the understandable parameters of the type of debate we were presented, it was a worthwhile gathering that gave at least a brief sampling of the type of president each candidate would be or try to be.  However it set nothing in stone.  While Romney won, he has still not provided those who doubt his conservative credentials with the confidence they need to become believers.  While he did not say anything that conservatives can be unhappy with, he also did nothing to inspire them.  What will be interesting though is to see how much of a difference this debate has on Romney’s popularity among Independents.  In many state primaries, Independents and even Democrats are allowed to vote in the G.O.P. contest.   Being dissatisfied by President Obama, many of these Independent could show up at the Republican primaries to support the candidate that  they believe is most capable of beating the President. 

In that sense, I believe Romney helped himself immensely.  He certainly came off as one of, if not the most electable candidates on the stage.

Perry’s poor performance, while being a setback, was certainly not enough to knock him out of the race.  He is still very much in the race.  However, he must really be on his A game in the coming weeks.  He also needs to go in to the next debate much more prepared than he was for this one.

As for the others, they are essentially doomed to linger around the the back of the pack.  I think Michele Bachmann peaked with her straw poll win in Iowa and the rest is downhill from there.  Herman Cain will be able to hang in, but hanging out in the bottom tier is about all he is likely to do.  The only thing I believe we can expect from Huntsman is his withdrawal from the nomination contest.  Ron Paul is mired in the middle where he will remain not dead, but not exactly living either.  You might say that he is comatose. 

Were it not for an inability to raise money, I would have to say that after his debate performance, Rick Santorum would be able to emerge as a strong alternative candidate.  He is spirited and passionate, does not come off as scripted and is satisfactory to the G.O.P. base.  But money talks and Santorum just can’t raise enough money to really be heard. 

That leaves us with Newt Gingrich. 

I still can’t write Newt off.  He has great potential and the rebirth of his campaign that will occur when he unveils his new Contract with America could be very attractive to voters.  But even if that is so, Newt will still have an extremely high hurdle to jump in proving that Newt Gingrich, the man, is as good as Newt Gingrich’s  ideas.  If he can somehow prove that the messenger is as good as the message, he could give Romney and Perry a run for their money that will be expensive and exhausting. 

Now, the awards………..

Most Memorable Lines

Funniest Line of the Night:

“My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this President.” 

 – Gary Johnson

Sharpest Attack Line of the Night:

“He [Rick Perry] doesn’t want to build a fence. He gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about bi-national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for bi-national health insurance.” 

-Rick Santorum

 Most Sarcastic Line of the Night:

“I spent my life in the private sector. Not in government. I only spent four years as a Governor. (Turns head, looks at Rick Perry and says) I didn’t inhale” 

-Mitt Romney

 Most Logical Line of the Night:

“…sex is not an issue.  It should not be an issue. Leave it alone.  Keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual.”

-Rick Santorum

Next Most Logical Line of the Night:

“….but I believe that it is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks, for doing nothing.  That’s why we had welfare reform.”

-Newt Gingrich 

Worst Line of the Night:

 “If you say that we should not educate children (illegal immigrant children) who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought their through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” 

-Rick Perry

Best Line of the Night:

“It’s important to remember, this month, in the Reagan administration, September 1983, we created 1,100,000 new jobs. Obama’s socialist policies, class warfare, and bureaucratic socialism, we created zero in August.”

-Newt Gingrich 

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And here is the debate in its entirety:

5 Responses

  1. It’s obvious the news media including FOX want a race between Perry and Romney because it would make good press, or at least that’s what they think. These so called debates have turned into nothing more that “Gocha” feasts.

  2. […] day after the Fox News/Google Presidnetial Debate.  Complete assessment, transcript and video of the […]

  3. […] Posts Who Won Thursday’s Fox News/Google Debate in Florida and Why?White House 2012 PollsIn the Third Debate, Romney Wins,Cain, Gingrich and Santorum Shine. Rick Perry Bombs.ContendersPreliminary 2012 Presidential Primary and Caucus […]

  4. […] Posts Who Won Thursday’s Fox News/Google Debate in Florida and Why?White House 2012 PollsIn the Third Debate, Romney Wins,Cain, Gingrich and Santorum Shine. Rick Perry Bombs.Preliminary 2012 Presidential Primary and Caucus […]

  5. […] upset victory was a direct result of Perry’s poor performance in Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in which he argued that those who did not believe in offering in-state tuition discounts to illegal […]

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