The GOP Debate Disconnect

Moments ago, the Republican candidates finished yet another debate.  This time, CNN and the TEA Party Express were the odd couple sponsors.  Blitzer was in liberal heaven, getting every question the left wanted the candidates to quarrel about on the record.  But there were some very bright spots, which brings us to our debate winner:

I call Newt as winner

Newt Gingrich.  The GOP debate disconnect seems to be how Newt consistently delivers stellar debate performances, and in fact directs the flow of the debate away from where the moderators want to go, and yet continues to flounder in the polls.  Other candidates were taking their cues from Newt, and Newt was again successfully making the case that every candidate on that stage was better than Obama.  At the same time, he was showing why at least in debates, he is the best candidate on the stage.  Newt hit a couple home runs.  The first was in the Social Security squabble between Perry and Romney where Newt reminded us that it was Barack Obama who threatened twice to cancel Social Security checks if Republicans didn’t vote for his liberal budget policies.  Gingrich’s second big home run came again when other candidates were arguing about job growth.  Newt pointed out that Americans create jobs, not government.  He then gave credit to other candidates for what they did to create job growth, but ultimately gave the credit to the American people.  Lastly, on green energy tax loopholes for GE, Newt destroyed Obama’s attacks on the oil industry.  Newt showed that he is the smartest and most studied candidate on the stage.  When asked about whether he would compromise with Democrats in power, his answer was perfect.  Whether or not that reflects in the polls will be seen.

Michele Bachmann was on the attack, but her strikes were good conservative strikes and they hit their

Bachmann had a good showing

targets.  Bachmann came across as the conservative constitutionalist on the stage with a balanced approach to getting our nation back to the constitution.  Her strikes landed on Perry with Social Security, and the HPV vaccinations, she struck Romney on the constitutionality of his healthcare plan, and she landed shots on Perry and Huntsman for their help to illegal aliens.  She did not come across as someone struggling to take down the frontrunners ahead of her, but more like a principled conservative attacking the liberal tendencies of her opponents.  And no one hit her back on anything.

In this debate, Santorum finished a solid third place.  I had a feeling Santorum would do well with the TEA Party audience.  He looked far more relaxed and in control than in the last debate.  He maintained his conservative credentials, but introduced a new element: how he won multiple times in a blue state.  He also was able to identify himself with some of Gingrich’s success.  Santorum hit hard on Perry’s HPV issue and delivered a deadly blow on it.  Santorum and Bachmann are key elements in where I score Perry tonight, and both walked away unscathed.

Mitt Romney took some tough shots.  But despite the tough shots, he continued to show class and to handle attacks.  He was hit hard on Social Security, and in fact his position on Social Security was easily exploitable in front of this TEA Party audience.  Overall, he did a good job at taking some clean shots and his seven things we need to do to fix the economy and budget were spot on.  Romney fell into the expected trap and tangled with Perry too much on Social Security, and Romney’s support for Federal Social Security won’t win him TEA party support.

Herman Cain did a good job, but he continues to look amateurish compared to some of the more experienced heavy hitters.  Cain did well to expound on his 999 plan this time around, and he picked up the Perry/Romney social security fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.  But other than that his performance was unremarkable.  When Newt talked about private accounts for Social Security, he connected far better than Cain’s repeating of Neal Boortz talking points on Chile and Galveston.

Perry took it on the chin

Rick Perry took another beating, and this was a good one.  On social security, HPV and illegal immigration, Perry seemed to slip into his deer in the headlights slo-mo’ mode.  Perry’s argument that his state’s version of the dream act for illegal aliens was somehow a states rights issue was off-base and will not sit well with the TEA party.  Santorum and Bachmann nailed him on HPV and that one will stick.  At the same time, Perry’s role as the attack dog against Romney has soured this race somewhat.  Perry looked kind of amused/detached for a good part of the debate.  That mixed with his slow, Texan accent will remind some voters of a previous Texas Republican Presidential candidate, however unfair that comparison may be.

Ron Paul redeemed himself somewhat from his last debate performance.  However, his dodge on the Medicare Part D question may spark some serious questions that have been lingering in the darkest cellars about Ron Paul.  Is he as much of a purist as he seems?  Instead of quickly putting Medicare Part D on the chopping block, Paul kind of hemmed and hawed about other programs that should be cut first, including his biggest applause getters of the wars, the department of education, etc.  Paul, who is normally eager to take on unconstitutional spending programs, seemed to give an “if I get to it” response on Medicare Part D, which was one of the biggest social spending programs under George W. Bush.

Jon Huntsman just has nothing left in the tank.  His good answers were echoes of other candidates, and his bad answers were echoes of Barack Obama.  His Kurt Cobain joke fell completely flat.  His tax plan sounds exactly like Obama’s.  His stance on illegal immigration was wrong.  His Afghanistan rhetoric was meant to sound like the Afghan people needed to take more responsibility, but instead came across like America just wasn’t strong enough to fight anymore.  The best thing that happened to Huntsman tonight was no one asked him about global warming.

If debates drove polls, Newt Gingrich would be the front runner after tonight.  How Perry remains such a strong front runner with debate performances like these speaks to his clout and ability to run a public campaign away from the debate stage.

Can The TEA Party Win On A National Level?

Bookmark and ShareWith the 2012 GOP field of presidential hopefuls lending numerous rumors and anticipation to it’s constituency the polls seem to be giving early indications that those names who have been there before have the advantage heading into the spring.

2008 candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have been neck and neck in most polls and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich along with 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have been receiving a large helping of media attention. So with the polls showing the familiar names leading the pack, where does the TEA Party fit into all of this?

Most media outlets recognize CNBC’s Rick Santelli with launching the movement with a speech from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009 while giving a speech against the Obama administrations proposal to help homeowners with their mortgages. Keli Carender, blogger, teacher organized some of the earliest Tea Party style protests, before they were even called Tea Party protests. In February of 2009, Carender held a rally against the economic stimulus package in downtown Seattle. Ron Paul supporters credit him with launching the movement as far back as 2007 when the GOP held the keys to the White House and the federal budget deficit began to grow.

Despite who claims credit for the origins of the movement it flexed it’s muscles during the 2010 midterm elections. Some credit has to be given to the TEA Party movement for the Republicans taking the majority away from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. It was their message of controlling government spending and debt that propelled the GOP to victory.

So why is it that most polls for 2012 show the members of the ‘old guard’ as the early favorites? Sarah Palin is held in high regard by many who consider themselves TEA partiers but has shown little indication that she is making a run in 2012. Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the second straight year but in national polling is far behind the leaders. Tim Pawlenty has been campaigning to and garnering new found support amongst the TEA Party faithful but has yet to make any real gains to put himself on the same level of support as the early polling favorites. MN Rep. Michelle Bachmann has been hinting at a run and is the founder of the House TEA Party Caucus but has made many highly publicized gaffes and hasn’t even been a blip on the radar if the polling is any indication.

It is apparent from the results seen in 2010 that the TEA Party movement has a certain bit of influence. They are well organized and always draw media attention to their message of government fiscal responsibility. The question is can they bring the same message and support on a national level during a run for the White House as they did on the local level bringing a GOP majority to the House? The early polling doesn’t seem to say they can. It is very early in the process however and things can change quickly in the world of politics.

I believe that 2012 will be a huge test for the TEA Party movement. If they can get a candidate amongst the leaders for the GOP nomination they should be able to cement themselves as a true influence in national politics. If they fail to break through during THE largest race in the nation, they could be relegated to a mere footnote in American political history. Their message is a good one and seems to resonate with most Americans perception of the countries economic situation. Will that roll over into support from the independents that are necessary to win the White House? Time will only tell. Early indications however show that they have inroads to make within the GOP first.

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The Tea Party Response To The State Of The Union….Hey Michelle, The Camera Is Over Here.

Bookmark and Share With the State of the Union Address behind us the country can decide how they chose to interpret the message the President gave. But what will they think of the message or to be more specific, message(s), that the GOP gave in response? In this authors humble opinion it may not have been the proper strategy to put forth 2 messages from 2 different GOP Representatives to one message given by the President. A message which was built up all week under the premise of coming together as legislators to govern. The Republican’s couldn’t even come together for a common response.

Paul Ryan‘s giving the official Republican response,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Monday. “And Michele Bachmann, just as the other 534 members of the House and Senate, are going to have opinions as to the State of the Union. Again, this is a process that happens every year, and I look forward to all comments, but it’s Paul Ryan that’s giving the official Republican [response].”

The opposition party traditionally delivers a speech following the president’s address. GOP leaders selected Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) to offer this year’s official Republican response. But the Tea Party Express, a national small-government group, asked Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann to deliver a separate tea party response via its website. The speech was also carried live on CNN, who has never been known to be a GOP friendly media outlet.

I believe Paul Ryan did a good job in the ‘official’ response. He pointed out the spending that was proposed by the President and the fact that we were told the same things the last time around. He was candid and at the same time was optimistic that both sides could do what was right for the country. Realistic? If history repeats itself, probably not, but it is what America wants to hear. Ryan did a good job in being firm yet not too confrontational on a night in which the country saw a show of unity within the halls of Congress. He gave a general direction of where we are at and where the GOP wants to take us and he did it with style.

Bachmann’s response was a bit more confrontational. She did not appear to be looking at the camera at any time. Whomever filmed the speech did a less than stellar job as she never once looked at the people whom she was addressing, and in my opinion, came off as a bit more rhetorical where as Ryan came off as more sincere. It was poor planning by the Tea Party Express. In a time dedicated to unity in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Giffords the second ‘un-official’ Tea Party response may have appeared to some that there is a huge split between the Republican party and the Tea Party. And after the responses to tonight’s State of the Union…Michelle Bachmann did not do the Tea Party any favors. In my opinion it may have been damaging in the long run. It seemed disconnected in more ways than one. But then again, the Tea Party has been never been considered part of the GOP establishment and in most instances, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them.

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