Conservatives Generally Agree On the Outcome of the Presidential Debate

Bookmark and Share    Monday’s Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN/WMUR and the Manchester Union Leader, produced few waves and even fewer opinion changes regarding the seven candidates who participated in it. While opinions vary slightly on who came out as a winner or on even if there was any clear winner, most agree that the debate’s moderator John King, was a loser. His performance offered an endless rash of irritating, inappropriate grunts of “uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uhlright” as he tried to interrupt everyone who spoke every time they spoke.

As for the participants, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul, most agree that none of them did any harm to themselves or was hurt by any of their opponents.

A review of several opinions offered by WH12 staff writers all agree that while some of the candidates did well, none of them really distinguished themselves as standouts. At the same time, everyone at White House 2012 agreed that for a number of reasons, Michele Bachmann surpassed expectations. Everyone at White House 2012 also agrees that as a group, the seven candidates agreed on the main issues, the economy, and stayed focused on what that which they have in common rather than their differences. That type of unity bodes well for the Party as a whole, but it will among those running for the presidential nomination, each one will soon have to point out their differences if they want to defeat their opponents.

At this stage in the race though, as Smashey put it, “they all played it safe.”

Below are more detailed analyses form three of the White House staff writers; Smashey, Friday and Kempite.

Smashey:

I believe the debate proved one thing……the Republican candidates seem to be willing to lay off of differences with each other to untie against the failings of the Obama administration.

I don’t think anyone stood out as a front runner nor do I think anyone took a hit to the negative. Everyone played it safe.

I expected Bachman to be the kind of speaker she was in her SOTU reply but she was surprisingly more polished this time around. Gingrich showed he is an accomplished speaker as did Romney and as was expected. Pawlenty didn’t make a move to wow anyone as I expected him to which was a bit disappointing. Cain stayed on message as did Santorum but both also, as with Pawlenty, did little to make that impact I think they needed to get to the same level as Romney. Paul was Paul as was expected.

In short I don’t think anyone came out ahead and no one lost. They all played it safe and had a united message against the policies of Obama.

Friday: 

This debate was very good. Candidates did what they needed to do most and focused on the economy and on Obama. Even when egged on, the only candidate who briefly faltered in this was Pawlenty. Pawlenty, who had recently coined the term Obamneycare, was put in a tough spot when John King seized on that opportunity. When King attempted to get candidates to distance themselves from Sarah Palin, they instead put the focus on Joe Biden’s absolute failures. This was a success because each of these candidates has been portrayed as unexciting and undesirable. Whether by pact or nature, by allowing themselves to agree with one another and focusing on Obama’s massive failures, these candidates each built their capital in this primary. Even Ron Paul seemed cordial.

An obvious dynamic came through in this debate. We are starting to see a top tier and second tier emerge. Some candidates appeared to have jumped into this race with both feet, focused on their issues, but are now finding themselves relying on stump phrases without much substance. Cain and Bachmann seemed to fall into this category, while Santorum appeared as the sacrificial lamb for classic conservatism. It is good to have each of them in the race, but at this point their biggest contribution is contrast. All three would have done very well were this debate a TEA Party rally. However, Considering the TEA Party influence in 2010 and Obama’s 2008 win using the same basic campaign style, I wouldn’t write this off a as a negative just yet.

Ron Paul was well prepared and had answers ready, but not to any of the questions King asked. Paul’s anti-federal government stances were refreshing for constitutionalists and will certainly inspire his libertarian base, but he is sure to lose any liberal who opposes entitlement reform this time around. Right?

No single winner in this debate. However, Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich and Bachmann certainly helped themselves. I don’t think this debate will give Paul, Cain or Santorum as much boost in this race.

Kempite:

While John King proved himself to be a horrible moderator with obvious political biases that he can’t contain himself from at least subtly projecting, the seven G.O.P. presidential debate participants proved to be an assemblage of promising leaders, even if they did not all prove themselves to be presidential material.

In the final analysis, the only standard by which you can arrive at winners or losers in presidential debates is the one that shows a particular candidate helped or hurt their chances to get elected. None of the seven debate participants did anything to hurt their chances but none of them performed in a way, or said anything that significantly improved their chances of getting elected. Under those circumstances, as the frontrunner going into the debate, Mitt Romney comes out as the winner of the debate.

If there was a trophy for second place, Michele Bachmann’s overall performance earned it for her.

Bachmann was strong and whether enough voters currently think she electable or not, they have now been forced to give her chance and with that chance, Bachmann has more control of her electoral destiny than do others like Ron Paul, who seems to be unable to run a campaign that can appeal to more than 10 or 12 percent of the Republican presidential electorate.

Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum held there own but that is not good enough for either one of them. They need to begin inspiring more voters and fast. Herman Cain underperformed in that sense that he is a much more electrifying speaker than he showed himself in the debate. And as for New Gingrich, at times he seemed out of place and like Herman Cain, I believe he underperformed. However it is important to note that in my opinion, even an underreporting Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich still performs better than President Obama and would get my vote

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Republican Debate Had a Clear Loser…… CNN’s John King

Bookmark and Share   The second Republican presidential debate of the 2012 election has ended with little more to show for it other than the lack of quality and credibility that CNN and debate moderator John King have. While almost all of the candidates performed well, there was nothing that really distinguished any of them as a clear winner. However John King proved himself to be a real loser.

While the two hour debate did not put any time restrictions on the candidate’s answers, they did ask them to limit their answers to no more than a few sentences or even just “one word”. This lack of any set time constraints, caused John King to consistently interrupt with annoying grunt like sounds of uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, alright.  I’m not exaggerating.  A candidate would say a few words and there would be Johnathan King, grunting and interrupting them with these disturbing, repetitious, grunt-like, uh sounds .

In addition to the grunts, King continued what he called a CNN tradition, and from time to time, would ask a specific candidate what he called a “this or that question.” These probing questions consisted of gems such as “Coke or Pepsi?”, “American Idol or Dancing With the Stars?”, and “Blackberry or Ipod?”. While these little sidebar questions could only be described as stupid, the most absurd question came at the end when King asked, “In 2008 Barack Obama picked Joe Biden to be his Vice President and John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his Vice President. Who do you think was the better choice?”. The question was initially asked of Tim Pawlenty and his response was actually one of the best of the night. He stated that Joe Biden is the one person who has been wrong on just about every position he has taken.  

King clearly attempted to paint Republicans into a corner. In addition to hoping that one of them would offend the senses of important Sarah Palin and TEA Party movement voters, on the issue of gay marriage, King asked if they would describe themsleves as a George Bush Republican or a Dick Cheney Republican?  The reference was to the two men’s difference of opinion on the issue which had President Bush pushing for a constitutional amendment, while Dick Cheney favored leaving it to the states.  It is obvious to me that King had hoped to be able to provide DNC operatives with footage of whoever the Republican nominee will be, describing themselves as a “Dick Cheney Republican” or “George Bush Republican”.  While one or the other may not be very damaging among fellow Republicans, it is common knowledge that after both Bush and Cheney were demonized by CNN and other liberal lamestream outfits, describing one’s self as either would not help in the general election among moderates and independents.  None of the debate participants took the bait.

King’s laughable performance left me asking one one question. CNN or Fox?

And in case you don’t happen to know the answer to that question, than you probably think that Joe Biden was a better choice for Vice President in 2008 and voted for Barack Obama.

While Johnathan King’s asinine display is what really stole the show, all the candidates held up well, but one did stand out a bit more than the others at times. That candidate was Michele Bachmann. Ignoring the fact that she was the only woman on the stage, Congresswoman Bachmann made her case, in a manner that was sharp, concise and powerful. From her telling the audience that they could take to the bank, the fact that she will not rest until Obamacare was repealed, to her expressed commitment to the defense of life, Bachmann was impressive. She took the first question asked of her as an opportunity to announce that earlier in the day she filed the papers that made her an official presidential candidate. One of the biggest round applause of the night came when Bachmann roared “I want to announce tonight that President Obama is a one term President!”.

Not so impressive was Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain.

Ron Paul continued to wag his bony finger while reiterating his desire to have the United States live in some sort of bubble. Herman Cain did not hurt himself, but he never seemed to find the comfort zone that usually allows him to unleash snappy, but inspirational and memorable lines. Newt was in a difficult position. With him behind a podium that stood on the wreckage of his campaign organization, Gingrich needed to really stun people with his personality, intelligence, and pragmatism. He didn’t.  He needed to give people reason to believe he is someone who could beat President Obama. He didn’t.  While Newt did not sink his ship in Monday night’s debate, he failed to bail out any of the water that is sloshing around in his hull. Additionally, at times, Newt looked somewhat out of place. He did however get off one of the best lines of the night when asked about solving the illegal immigration problem. On this Newt said;

“You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think if we took just half of the people in the Homeland Security bureaucracy and put them on the Texas, Arizona and New Mexico border, we would probably solve our problem”

While his point was well received and greatly appreciated, it failed to be potent enough to put Gingrich in the game as solidly as he desperately needs.

The only real scale that can determine the winner of a presidential debate is based upon who most improved their chances of getting elected. By that standard, Michele Bachmann comes out second to one….Mitt Romney. Romney is the frontrunner, and while he landed no homeruns, no candidate landed any lethal blows on him or succeed in drawing any blood from him. This means Romney still remains the frontrunner and therefore, the debate winner.

The surprise third place winner would have to be Rick Santorum.

There are low expectations for Santorum and right now his survival in the race is linked to the social conservatives who as his key constituency, he must inspire. In Monday’s debate, Santorum did nothing to make them not want to give him a shot. He was strong on the issues that motivate the religious right and he was as well spoken and confident as any other candidate. With the exception of Michele Bachmann.

Somewhere behind Rick Santorum, but ahead of Ron Paul, fell Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty was mediocre. Unfortunately, that is all he was. For a candidate that is often described as “vanilla”, mediocre is not sufficient. Pawlenty remains in need of a shinning moment and while he has had a few bright spots with his admirable economic recovery plan and his shot at Romney after the inventing the word “Obamneycare”, he has still failed to put any sprinkles on his vanilla campaign. Beyond that, Pawlenty failed to take advantage of the opportunity to pummel Mitt Romney over his Massachusetts healthcare plan. When John King asked Governor Pawlenty about his recent description of it as Obamneycare, instead of reinforcing the message behind the words meaning, he backed down like a bully who found out the kid he was picking on had a black belt in Karate.

For many the debate did little to change minds or to sway voters leaning in one direction or the other regarding any of the candidates. In fact, many are still left hoping someone who can inspire them will jump in to the contets in the weeks ahead. And on a day when some correspondents reported that there is a 95% chance that Texas Governor Rick Perry will run, Monday’s debate left quite a few hoping he does.

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