Time for a brief post on my impression (and yours) of the Thursday evening Iowa GOP debate.
Mitt Romney remains the steady even-steven frontrunner. He gave the impression of being presidential, made few mistakes and had no deer-in-the-headlights moments like he did during the 2008 debates. When asked about healthcare and Romney care, his answer was still very much the government is the answer solution. He still remains committed to the concept of government-mandated healthcare which drives conservatives crazy. At least I will give him credit for being firm on an issue many believe is wrong.
Michele Bachmann again, did very well. She held her own in a field of men of which three strongly attacked her. At one point, the debate became a verbal joust between the Minnesota twins of Pawlenty and Bachmann. Michele gave very principled and committed answers on both fiscal and social issues. At one point, Byron York asked her a theological question about wives submitting themselves (Ephesians 5:22) in which she returned a very wise and personal answer. At this time, she is my favorite candidate because I identify with her positions more than any other candidate.
Let’s face it, Tim Pawlenty was a disappointment. He cannot seem to shake his passive aggressive temperament and presentation and this really became manifest when he attacked Congressman Bachmann. Pawlenty is having a tough time convincing voters that he is a fighter or has the fire in the belly to take on Obama (although I think anyone can beat Obama right now.)
In contrast to Pawlenty, Rick Santorum really stuck out as the righteous anger passionate candidate tonight. He was forceful and commanding in his arguments. He had me believing he was on the move until his anger turned on Michele Bachmann and then he came off as bitter and critical. His temperament lost me.
Newt Gingrich also stood out tonight. Just as Romney won the war, Gingrich won the battle in tonight’s debate. His answers and presentation gave the perception that his campaign may be on the road to recovery. Newt is probably the smartest guy on that stage but he does not convey executive leadership and I think almost everyone sees that clearly. After the Republicans win back the White House, Newt should be the top choice as Secretary of State or Secretary of Education, if that department doesn’t get eliminated.
Herman Cain was also somewhat of a disappointment. He had a few great answers but he did not command the stage and stand out as a strong leader contrasted to the other candidates. He seemed to get lost as an observer to the other fireworks show on stage.
Frankly, I’m surprised that John Huntsman is even running as a Republican. His presentation was extremely staged and the positions he holds and argued are more in line an Independent candidate. My guess is that he won’t remain in the race too much longer.
Then there’s the angry old man from Texas, Congressman Ron Paul. You’ll probably be surprised to know that I happen to agree with his philosophy on the role of government. (Although I am slightly torn about his position on the war and isolationism.) It’s just that the wrong Paul is running for President. Paul does not convey leadership but rather that of an alarmist. If his son, Rand Paul, were in this race, I’m sure that he would be doing much better than his father. A note to the Paulistinians out there who read this: I’ve included Ron Paul on the online poll but I would ask you not to flash mob it.
Finally, there’s much to be said in the days ahead about the Governor of Texas. Governor Rick Perry was not part of tonight’s lineup because he was probably sitting at home watching the GOP Vice-Presidential debate. No seriously, Perry has indicated that he will announce this Saturday that he is entering the race. This will have the effect of throwing a wrench into the campaign machine of Mitt Romney. Perry has every chance and likelihood of quickly overshadowing Romney in all areas with the exception of campaign cash on hand. Unlike Romney, Perry is currently serving as Governor of a state that is prospering especially in job growth compared to every other state. Perry is tremendously popular and can certainly brag about recent accomplishments that reflect the conservative agenda. And most important, Perry does not have to worry about a record of making deals with Democrats for his own political survival. When Perry enters the race, the Republican primary will essentially become a two man battle between him and Romney. At that point, Bachmann becomes the dark horse or top VP pick. All the other candidates will need to prepare their resumes for cabinet positions.
The new poll is up and we’re asking who you think won the debate. Feel free to share the poll with others but I’d also like your comments on the debate and where you think the race is going at this point in time.