There is no debate regarding who lost the presidential CNBC Republican presidential debate that took place in Michigan. Hands down that went to Texas Governor Rick Perry who suffered a senior moment that was reminiscent of James Stockdale in the 1992 vice presidential debate, when he represented Ross Perot’s ticket and opened up by saying “Who am I? Why am I here?.
As unfortunate as it is, Rick Perry’s inability to remember the third federal department that would he would eliminate if elected President, will be the most remembered, most replayed, and most damaging moment in the debate and when all is said is done, it will be one of the most damaging moments to a candidate in the entire 2012 presidential election cycle.
Perry went in to his answer about which three agencies he would get rid of with confidence, but after he mentioned the departments of education, and commerce, he went totally blank on the third agency he so adamantly wants to get rid of. For a moment Perry looked at Ron Paul who was to his immediate left and asked him which one it was that he wanted to eliminate. Ron Paul simply raised his bony fingers and said there are five we need to get rid of. Even after being given a moment to collect his thoughts, he could not fathom what it was. And to then to make matters worse, Mitt Romney, the man Perry sees as his chief rival, seemed to throw Perry a lifeline while he awkwardly searched for the answer. Romney suggested the EPA, and Perry said yeah the E.P.A..
A question or two later, remembering his own plan, Perry made the audience aware of the third agency he wants to do away with was the Department of Energy.
Perry does not deserve to be penalized for his momentary lapse. Having a word or name that we are quite familiar with, briefly escape us is normal. And I dare suggest that under the type of pressure that Perry was under in a nationwide debate, few of us would have done better. However, there are many times when we get the chance to see a presidential contender demonstrate that human, but imperfect side. Add to that the need for Perry to have significantly improved upon his credentials as a debater and speaker because of his previously poor performances and what you get is one bad night for Rick Perry.
Aside form that shallow headline, little if any new information about the candidates or their plans came out of the debate.
Newt Gingrich performed as well as usual and made a few strong points about the housing market, the economy and several other important issues, but he failed to hit any home runs. But he did continue to gain some points with his anti-media attitude when he and CNBC questioner Maria Bartiromo got into a bit of an argument about having to answer a detailed question in thirty seconds. Bartiromo got pretty sarcastic during that one.
Then there was Herman Cain.
Cain probably had one of the more outstanding performances in the debate.
Despite the pressures of the sexual harassment accusations that others are trying to hang around his neck, Cain was on message and witty. He received sharp criticism for referring to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy” , but for the most part, that could only score him points with conservatives.
Cain also seemed to have the audience on his side.
When Maria Bartiromo tried to ask Cain a question about the sexual harassment charges, a long standing round of loud boos rang out from those gathered in the auditorium. Clearly many felt that such a question had no place in a debate that was supposed to be focussed on the economy.
When a similar follow up question about the Cain accusations was directed at Mitt Romney, he was received great applause for stating that he was not getting in to that and that the only one who had a right to respond to those allegations was Herman Cain.
One of the best lines Cain had, came when he declared that the problem with the housing market has been government created and stated “If you go back to the financial meltdown of 2008, it all precipitated because of the practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is the root of why we have holes in the boat” .
However, Mitt Romney must once again be considered the winner.
He was poised, presidential, and while predictable, he was efficient and most of all, did and said absolutely nothing to hurt himsel. Given his lead status in the race, that means that Romney maintains his status.
As for the other candidates on the stage, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman, were essentially just there. All of them had a decent performance but for the most part, seemed inconsequential. And in the case of Jon Huntsman, conservatives could not help but wonder if he was in the wrong debate and should have been running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
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