Winners and losers of the GOP debate

AP Photo

Tonight’s debate was pretty entertaining. But then, how can you get a more entertaining crowd than the Tea Party – the group of people who have literally done nothing but rebel rouse since they hit the scene a few years ago. The cheers were vast, the boos were plenty. There were also clear winners and losers.

Winners:

Mitt Romney
Get it, Mitt. After four debates, Mitt is still speaking strong and knows how to pull off the one liners. It is becoming ever more clear that Romney is the only candidates whose skills in oratory can match up to Obama – something that will be critically important when there is one GOP candidate facing the ever-charismatic hero-of-youth that is our 43rd president. But not only can he speak, he knows what he is doing. On several occasions tonight, Romney faced boos from the Tea Partier audience in order to appeal to the greater audience sitting at home in front of the television who don’t share the same radical views. That will be critical when candidates are forced to slide further to the middle to attract votes from moderates and independents. Romney also received a huge boost from Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and to an extent Jon Huntsman, who all went after Rick Perry. Romney also went on the attack more than he has in previous debates, making Perry look much weaker than he has in the past. Romney is certainly benefiting from Perry-scare, as candidates are turning their energy to beat down the quick-riser rather than sustaining an intelligent attack on the former Massachusetts governor.

Michelle Bachmann
Yeah, I’m giving her a win. But only because she sucked less than she did a few days ago, which I guess is a triumph for team Bachmann. She managed to emerge whatever black hole she got sucked into in the last debate, which left her down in the polls and essentially forgotten. This time around, she attacked Perry relentlessly for his attempted HPV vaccine mandate and made some noise about the economy. I’m not convinced her performance tonight will matter, but hey, good job anyway.

Newt Gingrich
I never thought I’d be listing old Newt as a “winner” of anything in this race, but he proved me wrong tonight. He was clearly comfortable in front of his home crowd of the Tea Party, and was the most effective candidate in tearing down Obama’s jobs bill. Pointing out that the bill does not pay for itself by closing corporate loopholes but instead by tax increases, Newt garnered mass applause and made a solid point. Maybe the pundits who pointed to Gingrich as the potential frontrunner back before this race started weren’t on peyote after all. I mean, he’s certainly not the frontrunner, but nights like tonight make those theories seem mildly credible.

Losers

Rick Perry
After weeks of soft hits and easy slides, Perry was finally faced with solid attacks from the other candidates. Perry was not prepared for them, and faltered behind continuous rounds of complaints about jobs, social security and his HPV mandate. Perry is not as eloquent as Romney, and was unable to slide out of tight spaces and weave around tight corners. Instead, he flopped in front of his homies in the Tea Party and in all likelihood slightly embarrassed Bobby Jindal who came out to watch after throwing Perry his nomination. Perry is going to need to come up with some better block responses to common complaints about his leadership or he’s simply an artillery-filled ship waiting to slide to the bottom of a bone dry Texas lake.

Jon Huntsman
In a night filled with badly timed jokes, bizarre one-liners and a strange joke about Kurt Cobain, Huntsman stubbled around more like a drunk baby than a real contender for president of the United States. Instead of a real targeted joke (I assume Huntsman was referencing Cobain’s song “All Apologies” when he poked fun at Romney’s book “No Apologies), he caused Cobain’s name to bump up on Twitter instead of his own, inciting dozens of jokes about how Huntsman’s campaign was going to end up like Cobain. Sigh. But here is the thing about Huntsman: He has good ideas. Good ideas that aren’t radical. He just hasn’t been able to successfully push them through, and in the intensely partisan political climate he probably won’t be able to this go ’round.

Everyone Else
Let’s cut to the chase. None of the other candidates matter. I would really love to have a beer (and pizza, of course) with Herman Cain, Rick Santorum is just never going to win, and Ron Paul lost big time in front of a crowd he essentially gave birth to. What happened Ron? You are the father of small government, no taxes and leave-me-the-hell alone foreign policy. You should have owned that stage. Now, the crazy old man jokes are flying.

Posted by on September 12, 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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