Much, much, much, much better than last week’s ABC News/Yahoo! News Debate. So Fox News is a winner for asking different and more substantive questions. The only question that I did not like was the one about “electability.” That is too subjective and driven by media poll narratives.
Newt Gingrich: He had a solid debate with the exception of the Freddie/Fannie question, I think he lost some votes there. It’s just hard to defend yourself when you’ve been paid over a million dollars by an entity that is hopelessly broken. Linking working for them with volunteering for Habitat for Humanity was an epic fail. Things were much improved after that, and his answer on reigning in the judiciary was masterful. I especially liked his line to Megyn Kelly, “historians know better than lawyers” about this subject was classic. He handled Bachmann’s critique of his endorsements well, and avoided attacks on his immigration position. I was rather surprised he wasn’t attacked more.
Mitt Romney: Much better debate than last week. No major gaffes, no sound byte moments, but then as it is with Romney nothing really memorable either. He was honest about his support of gay rights. What he fails to realize is the “anti-discriminatory” polices he supports led to same-sex marriage rulings he says he was against. His response to Santorum’s critique was weak. That won’t matter much to his current supporters, but to those who care about this issue and were giving him a look over it will turn them off.
Both Gingrich and Romney needed to be asked that while they say they are pro-life why do they support exceptions? I was disappointed no one went there.
Rick Perry: Best debate yet, his strongest answer was about Eric Holder and Fast and Furious. I’m curious to hear how he would make Congress part-time and cut salaries when Congress votes on the budget. That’s a promise he can’t keep. Also I wonder why is he in favor of a no-fly zone over Syria when they aren’t bombing their people, exactly what would this accomplish? He didn’t have any gaffes, but he wasn’t overly impressive either.
Rick Santorum: Solid answers. He had a good exchange with Romney on marriage, he was ready for addressing Romney’s position on it. He was strong on discussing his manufacturing jobs plan. His best moment in the debate was discussing the Iranian threat. His answer on border security and future concerns within our hemisphere was also good. My fear is that these debates are not helping him as they could since he’s largely being ignored. All in all solid debate.
Michele Bachmann: She went on the attack, and she needed to. I don’t think it was effective though. While I disagreed with some of Gingrich’s endorsements, her statement saying he said he’d back Republicans who support partial-birth abortion was taken out of context. He said he’d campaign for Republicans, not that he specifically supported those who were in favor of that procedure. Again, I disagree with him on this, but Bachmann put words in his mouth and she doesn’t seem to have all of her facts straight when attacking him. With Iran she also had a good answer, honestly nothing else really stood out for me.
Ron Paul: Only Ron Paul fans will believe he won that debate. He was good the first hour. I was actually surprised that he said he believed anyone on the stage could beat Obama, but avoided giving the answer to what they were really looking for – if he will run third party if he doesn’t get the nomination. He fell apart on Iran, this has been his Achilles heel in the debates. Showing concern for a state sponsor of terror acquiring a nuclear weapon is not the same as wanting to be the policeman of the world. Saying you don’t want to take a military option off the table doesn’t mean you’re eager to start a war. What you are concerned about is our Israeli friends, and the fact they will have a nuclear shield and it will embolden them to continue to sponsor terrorism.
Side note: Any Ron Paul supporter that comes over to this blog and labels any other candidate or another candidate’s supporter a “warmonger” will have their comment deleted and they will be banned. I’m tired of the rhetoric. Just saying… you’ve been warned.
Jon Huntsman: Not a bad debate, but like Santorum was marginalized. Nothing he said really stood out to me. Some issues he’s really good on, others not so much. Perhaps if he would come to Iowa I’d take more time to actually examine his record, and if he’d give Iowans the opportunity to ask him some questions we’d be able to learn more about him. I think one of the things that turn me off (besides some of his policy positions) is how smug he seems when he debates. Superficial? Probably, but that isn’t the only reason why I’m not supporting him.