I, like most of you, watched the GOP debate last night from Manchester, NH. I anchored the coverage at PJTV, and was joined on set by Stephen Kruiser, James Poulos and Joe Hicks, and joined via video conference by the Vodka Pundit Stephen Green and Tatler editor Bryan Preston, as well as Alexis Garcia in New Hampshire.
From the accounts of those on set, and Bryan and Stephen, all agreed that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) came out of this debate doing the most good for her campaign. Yet, both Bryan and Stephen thought that it was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney that did best, proving that he is the man to beat in the election.
I could not disagree more.
Stating and restating that you failed to secure the nomination in 2008 is not a winning strategy. Asking President Obama why he didn’t call you to learn about Romneycare was a good tactic, except it reminded everyone that he passed Romneycare! Pawlenty didn’t vigoursly go after Romney like he does in interviews, but was the Romney response to Pawlenty – or to any attacks on Romneycare – vigorous? Would anyone characterize Romney as vigorous? As exciting? As connected?
What in his presentation last night makes him the winner? The fact that he didn’t have a glaring misstep?
Here is how I rate the debaters:
1 – Rep. Michele Bachmann – Fully prepared, well articulated message, unwavering on conversation of life. Proved she will have Republican and Tea Party support.
2 – Speaker Newt Gingrich – After a disastrous week, his answers were level headed, smart, quick and the stuff of presidents. He proved that he has thought about the questions, and has answers for them. Yet, as James Poulos noted – “Who is his constituency?” Meaning, who is the Gingrich voter? It’s a great question, and I wonder if Newt has an answer for that one.
T3 – Herman Cain – Simply solid. Will have to answer more about his faith in TARP from the beginning.
T3 – Governor Mitt Romney – He didn’t implode, he didn’t break out. The fundraising will tell the story on his performance.
5 – Rep. Ron Paul – Gave the funniest line of the night, when, asked about the panel as possible running mates, said he wasn’t sure as he didn’t know where they stood on the Fed. However, his solid fiscal policy gives way to his foreign policy ineptness. And that is saying something.
6 – Governor Tim Pawlenty – I thought last night that T-Paw gave a good performance. As I think about it today, the failure to be direct with Romney will, for the time being, sting him. He can recover, but he has to learn how to be direct in front of the people he wants to beat, not just in a TV studio. If some other strong contenders get into the race (like Gov. Rick Perry, (R-TX) that recovery will take even longer.)
7 – Senator Rick Santorum – Can you tell me one thing he said last night that was memorable? I didn’t think so.
What do you think? What is your list? Stephen? Bryan?