First GOP debate draws few big namers

Fox News may have made a big deal out of this debate, but most big Republican names chose to stay home. Of the four that showed up, only former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is likely to have any real shot at winning the Republican nomination. This lack-luster turn out make the intended “unofficial kick off” quite unimpressive.

So unimpressive, in fact, that John Boehner, the highest ranking Republican, decided not to watch it. Instead, he spent his evening enjoying a bottle of cabernet and some cigarettes at D.C.’s Morton’s Steakhouse and told Hotsheet he would “read about it later.”

Besides Pawlenty, the event drew Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and arguably the most obscure candidate of the evening former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

I know, I know, who the heck is Herman Cain? Well, let me tell you. The former pizza exec has never held an elected office, and barely registers in national polls. But none of this mattered at the debate, as he evidently made the biggest impact on the focus group Fox conducted immediately after the event. His direct and straightforward responses evidently hit it big with those in the focus group, and if anyone had actually been watching this debate, Tim Pawlenty may have had something to worry about.

But Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and even Donald Trump clearly felt they had nothing to worry about. Though Pawlenty taunted the no-shows with the charge, “If you want to be president, you’ve got to show up,” they chose to wait it out rather than attend a nationally televised debate so early in the season.

Even if they didn’t show up, the debate turn out to have its entertaining moments.

My personal favorite was the clear amount of shock Cain got out of the panelists when he said he would rely on “the experts and their advice and their input” when deciding what to do in Afghanistan. The panelists also took a shot at Pawlenty’s support of cap and trade, which he has since relented on. “Nobody’s perfect,” said Pawlenty, though even the mention of his position drew a spattering of boos from the audience.

Paul held firm on his anti-war mindset, which drew some heated snips from the rest of the candidates.

“We wouldn’t have been able to launch a raid in Pakistan and get Osama bin Laden if we weren’t in Afghanistan,” said Santorum in response to Paul’s charge that “nation building” had nothing to do with finding bin Laden.

Out of the four candidates only Cain said he would not release the photos of bin Laden’s body, but he, along with Pawlenty and Santorum said they would approve of water boarding as a method of interrogation.

For whatever reason, I held out hope that Ron Paul, the famously libertarian Texan, would come out with something new and different, but I think I’ll finally have to resign to the fact that he has been around so long that he’s probably said everything that there is to be said. But I sort of feel like if he’s going to pull this out, he’s got to come up with something surprising. After all, it was these views that cost him the nomination in the past. But hey, I respect him for sticking to his guns.

All in all, not an impressive evening out of Fox News. But heres to hoping that Herman Cain sticks around. Maybe Godfather’s Pizza will have an honorary special.

Posted by on May 6, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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