The latest GOP/Republican Party debate took place last night in Dartmouth, New Hampshire and was sponsored by the Washington Post and Bloomberg News. Interestingly, I had to search my satellite channels to locate Bloomberg in the first place. Getting back to serious matters having managed to locate Bloomberg, I settled down to watch what I hoped would be a truly engaging and competitive performance by the candidates.
The major problem with the debate was the format and layout, while well intentioned having a sit around the table layout, I believe it failed to spark the debate into life like previous one’s. Some of the question’s were also less then specific in their content, and presented some hypothetical scenario’s, Mitt Romney being the most forceful at pointing this out during the course of the debate.
Romney was the clear winner and buoyed by the earlier endorsement from Governor Chris Christie delivered an assured performance. He yet again managed to appear presidential, answered the questions in a short, factual and concise manner and really did deliver a performance which displayed a great deal of knowledge and ability on how to turn around the economy. He came to life when attacked by Governor Rick Perry over his health care overhaul in Massachusetts during his time as Governor. Romney masterfully turned the tables replying, “We have less than 1% of our kids that are uninsured,” Romney said. “You have a million kids uninsured in Texas. A million kids. Under President Bush, the percentage uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it’s gone up.” Knock out blow! An all round very confident and presidential like performance by Romney.
The next winner on the night was Herman Cain who as expected, came under considerable attack with some cheap sots dropped by Jon Huntsman saying he thought his 9-9-9 plan was the price of a pizza and Rep. Michele Bachmann who said, “The Devil is in the detail.” To his credit, with Rick Santorum trying to rally the audience into the debate, Cain himself turned in a presidential performance. He managed to defend his plan well and again highlighted the fact that he is the only candidate talking about wholesale changes to the tax system. Cain did well and considering the intense scrutiny of his 9-9-9 plan, did very well to communicate its strengths to the American people. The simple fact is, he has a plan that American’s understand, while his fellow candidates either have plans which are too complicated to communicate, or don’t possess one at all.
Yet again, my top three is rounded off by former Speaker Gingrich. Gingrich doesn’t moan or resent the little time he is allotted during these debates, but consistently proves himself as the most brilliant thinker with a magnificent ability to discuss the complex issues and explain them to the American people, in very simple solution based ways. I appreciate that many people look to Gingrich’s past however, I have this feeling, if given a decent and fair amount of media coverage, Gingrich could be the person with the solutions to make America rise like a “Pheonix from the flames”. In my opinion, he is brilliant and has some truly unique ideas and solutions for the very real current and future challenges America faces.
The next candidate who performed well on the night is former Senator Rick Santorum. He put in another strong performance even tackling the moderator Charlie Rose over time allocation during the debate and he managed to deliver the strongest attack on Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. Santorum has performed well in the last two debates and I have to admit, he is starting to win me over in the belief that he has some qualities which, could make him a serious candidate for higher office. Another good night for Santorum.
The losers on the night were again Ron Paul, who although springing to life when Herman Cain called Alan Greenspan the best Fed Chairman in his mind, Paul delivering savage criticism on that suggestion. Paul seemed relatively quite and devoid of innovative ideas for the rest of the evening. In fairness, Paul didn’t seem to get much allotted time last night compared to previous debates.
Governor Rick Perry, My,My,My! what has happened to the strong Texan Governor with a record most candidates would jump at? He couldn’t offer any real suggestions except opening up the energy market as a way of creating jobs and aiding the economy. Romney blew him out of the water when he tried to check Romney on healthcare and for most of the debate, Perry seemed content to just sit there and smile. Another poor performance, and certainly well off the pace in terms of delivering a convincing debate performance after the disaster of the previous two. Perry needs to get back to talking about his own record and achievements as Governor of Texas and forget about challenging Romney for now. If he continues to be too focussed on Romney, his presidential challenge will be long and gone by Christmas.
Rep. Bachmann, now I like the congresswoman and her energy however, she’d absolutely nothing new to add to the debate last night. She was happy to attack Herman Cain with a low blow comment about his 9-9-9 plan. She was like a cheerleader looking to be included in Gingrich’s selling of all the candidates good points. Unfortunately, Rep. Bachmann’s biggest problem is she’s making the same repetitious points since her barn storming debut in the CNN debate. She desperately needs some new ideas and talking points to reinvigorate her campaign and challenge.
Jon Huntsman appeared to start well and for all his experience both foreign and domestic seemed to fade badly as the debate went along. Again, he seems to like trying humour to make his points, note for his campaign, it isn’t working! The frustrating thing about Huntsman is he actually has some seriously good policies. He needs to joke less and sell his ideas more.
I thought all in all, the candidates weren’t really tested to their limits especially on an issue as important as the economy. Still, they departed Dartmouth last night confident in the knowledge that tougher debates and questions lie ahead. A decent night’s work for the GOP field when all is considered.
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