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Reflections on The Republican Presidential Debate

Kudos to Fox News and Google. It was a relief to be spared the ridiculously irrelevant and biased questions usually served up by liberal moderators. Albeit the one-minute answer format is frustrating, but at least the questions were better.

Rick PerryNothing much has changed since debate one.  Perry partisans who hoped their candidate’s performance would improve were mostly disappointed.  Romney is more polished  (and often seemed better prepared) and displayed flashes of humor that played well.

Bachman is a victim of her shoot-from-the-hip-without-thinking style.  She did not succeed in running away from her statements about the HPV vaccine.  All of the contenders want to be president, but Bachman’s ambition seems to get in the way of her brain.

The second and third tier candidates did well.  Ron Paul significantly improved his performance over the first debate in which he came across as frenzied.  He replaced his rapid-fire speech with more lucid responses.

Newt Gingrich, as in the first debate, was the smartest, most politically astute.  He does what no other candidate does: He refuses to respond to questions when the underlying premise is faulty or silly.

Cain is a likeable guy and he made some points, but the gap between his life experience and what he would have to contend with as president of the United States looms large.

Huntsman still did not impress and his statement about early childhood literacy education revealed ignorance of union dominance.  The NEA and the AFT would like nothing better.

Johnson’s libertarian views, especially on military and foreign policy, are too far out of the mainstream to resonate with most voters.

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney Sparring

The constant sparring between Romney and Perry was tiresome and made Perry look defensive. Both men have pasts to overcome but Perry’s tuition breaks for the children of illegals will be more difficult than Romney-care.  He didn’t help himself by calling the others “heartless” for finding fault with his policy.

Romney disappointingly hedged on the question of whether he thought Obama was a socialist and on Race to the Top.  That left this listener wondering why he was reluctant to say the S word.  It also created doubt about his views on federal involvement in education.  It was a missed opportunity to discuss enumerated powers and point out that the Constitution reserves education to the states.

On the other hand, Bachman’s vow to get rid of the Department of Education lacked credibility.  Reagan couldn’t do it, it’s doubtful if she could.

With the liberal media celebrating the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Santorum displayed some courage when he said social policy has no place in the military.

Newt GingrichThe two best lines of the evening came from Gingrich and Johnson.  Gingrich reprised a Carter era quip: He said a recession is when your neighbor is out of work, a depression is when you are out of work, and recovery is when Carter (Obama) is out of work.

Johnson waited to the end to deliver his zinger.  He said his next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this administration.

The worst question of the evening was when each candidate was asked to name his or her choice for vice president. Gingrich, with his usual perspicacity said this was not a Hollywood game show and he would not play.

Perhaps the most telling response came from Bachman who, in a rallying call to the conservative faithful, said this was the year when conservatives do not have to “settle.”  Her meaning being that with a floundering president, a principled conservative can be elected.

However, I did not see anyone on that stage capable of going up against the rhetorician-in-chief. The only person with the smarts to do so is Gingrich, and he has his own set of problems, not the least of which is that his campaign fell apart early on. Perry has not blossomed as a debater. Romney may be capable of taking Obama on, but his conservative credentials are in doubt.

This voter thinks Seth Lipsky “Let’s Have a Televised Debate on the Constitution,” (WSJ Opinion page 9/19) is on to something.  How many of the candidates plans and policies could pass constitutional muster?



1 LD Jackson { 09.24.11 at 2:36 am }

Great post, Marcia, and very accurate. I really like Rick Perry, but he is not doing well in the debates. It doesn’t help that he is being attacked by the rest of the candidates, but he should have expected that and been prepared. Even though debates are not an exact way of determining how a candidate would fare as President, they still help sway voters. Right now, Perry is floundering because of his performances.

The one candidate that I have been inspired to take a second look at is Rick Santorum. He is a great debater and has no trouble articulating his positions. I need to do more research on him.


2 James D. Best { 09.24.11 at 7:42 am }

Good analysis. I wanted Perry to do better, not because I wanted him so much as I do not want Romney–Too slick by far. Listening to commentators, it appears that the Republican establishment is intent on pitting glib against glib. Will we never learn? The biggest problem with Romney is that Obama can easily deflect the strongest argument for Obama’s defeat by constantly comparing Obamacare to Rommneycare. How can Romney effectively use the biggest 2 by 4 in the Republican arsenal? Defending Romneycare while slamming a very similar national program sounds like he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. Most of the populous won’t see a distinction … they will just see two candidates for president who believe heath care is a right that ought to be available for free to every resident of this country.


3 Marcia { 09.24.11 at 9:36 am }

Good point Jim. That will be a big problem for Romney. However, he will have plenty of other Obama negatives to talk about. I guess it depends upon who sets the agenda, and with the MSM squarely in O’s corner…


4 Quinn Woodworth { 09.27.11 at 11:12 pm }

Thanks for the good review Marcia. As I do not watch TV or read newspapers, I appreciate getting quick & useful information from you.


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