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Sizing Up the 7 Candidates from Last Night

Actually watched the debate. The whole thing! CNN did a pretty bad job with the questions when you basically just have everyone agreeing all of the time. First note, it was one of the least impressive fields I have seen. You had a 1 term governor who is the frontrunner and passed the precursor to Obamacare, a nutty guy who has been running since 1998, a pizza guy, a 2 term congresswoman, a flatlined former senator, a disgraced former house speaker, and some guy from Minnesota that is supposedly awesome. This is a big step back from 2006 when we had a well-quipped Arkansas Governor, America’s Mayor, the Maverick, and Fred no-nonsense Thompson. But tonight, it basically came down to performance. And here’s the quick breakdown.

Santorum – Looked awkward most of the night when giving his answers. Though passionate, always seemed rush with answers and was always looking at someones feet. Don’t think he belongs on the stage up there. Grade C

Bachmann – Probably gave the best overall performance. Looked and sounded good. However, her announcement of a pending announcement was awkward. She sorta came off as though she was challenging Obama to a “I, me, me, my , I, me, my, my, I” contest the whole night. And the most glaring problem was that all of her “accomplishments” that she regularly shot out were based on nothing more than simple votes in congress than most Republicans made. Shows a thin record (admittedly no thinner than Obama’s). Grade B+

Gingrich – Gingrich was, well, Gingrich. Grade: C+

Romney – He didn’t screw up. Came off as the most polished, disciplined, and prepared. Still dancing around Romneycare, albeit slightly better (but not much) than usual. His answers on why Romneycare is ok and Obamacare is not are too convoluted, which is why he should have just refudiated both. Honestly though, he is so professorial though that I do not really remember much of what he said as there was little passion. But I’m guessing he mostly said stuff I wanted to hear. His conversion to conservatism was so grand, the once gay marriage supporting Governor now even favors a constitutional amendment featuring DOMA. Grade A-

Pawlenty – I don’t even know where to begin. Last night was a train wreck, and he did not make any progress on Romney that’s for sure. He was defensive and looked scared when asked a confrontational question about Romney (that he started). He tried to blame his coining of the term “Obamneycare” on Obama, saying that the word was just a reflection of what Obama was saying about Romney (#fail) and completely coward in fear over the whole thing. He was flustered when asked about Sarah Palin. When he made a comment about appointing justices, he said he was the only candidate on the stage who had consistently appointed conservative justices (another feeble shot a Romney, who was the only other Governor on stage who could appoint anyone). And his answers were so by the “conservative handbook” and loaded with mushy goo it took physical effort to prevent my eyes from rolling into the back of my head. This is about performance and on abortion, where the candidates all were pro-life, Bachmann came out with an incredible and emotional response to the abortion question. Pawlenty followed it up with a comment about what NRO has said about him being pro-life. Grade – D+

Paul – Oh, Ronnie. When you get past the fact that Paul will never get the nomination for President, I actually liked most of his answers the best, especially on getting marriage out of government altogether (where he was the only one to make that point), but not on any foreign policy matters. Of course, I couldn’t keep up with him most of the time, so that’s a problem. I’m guessing most people just looked at their TVs and was wondering what crazy grandpa was yelling about today. Grade – B –

Cain – A big step back for the Tea Party candidate. He obviously still has the appeal of not being a politician and being the only true anti-establishment outsider. However, his grasp of the overall issues is not there, and that became apparent as he flustered through or gave non-answers to the harder questions. He actually reminds me a lot of Palin in 2007 in that he doesn’t have this all down by heart. (As for Palin, she was concerned about Alaska and not beltway politics for years). However, Cain was a radio talk show host and you’d think that he actually would be very well versed in most of these issues. Either way, a big step back from the first debate. Grade: C-

Overall: If this were an elimination contest, Bachmann and Romney would advance to the next round with Gingrich on the bubble. Pawlenty was the clear loser and was a combination of canned answers and awkward defensiveness. Bachmann surprised me the most, but touts herself too much when there is not many accomplishments to tout. There was an awful lack of pedigree out there. Romney, Bachmann, and Pawlenty isn’t quite the McCain, Thompson, Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney slugfests of 2007-2008. This will be a walk for Romney if Palin and/or Giuliani do not get in. I do not see much in his path right now (And Huntsman, seriously folks?) Grade for everyone – C+

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Categories: General
  1. ayamo
    June 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Next debate in July, hopefully with either Rick Perry, or Sarah Palin on the stage. Boy … I totally agree with your analysis. Bachmann did well, but her record is thin (especially compared to Palin’s decades of executive experience)). Romney did well. Tim Pawlenty seems like a man who’d punch you in the face and apologize for it in the same second. In a debate, Obama would simply roll over him without much effort.

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