Tonight conservatives and Republicans across the country found themselves in unfamiliar territory… MSNBC, the network host for The Reagan Library-No Obama Speeches-Lets Use Rick Perry as a Pinata-Republican Candidate Debate. This was the first debate that would include the Texas Governor on the firing line. At the beginning it seemed as if the moderators were trying to make the debate, a war between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. In fact it seemed as if they weren’t going to let any of the other six candidates come out and play. But then they switched tactics and made the rest of the evening a game of lets beat up the Texas governor. On many occasions candidates were not asked to express their opinion, but to comment on Perry’s. If one didn’t know better they might suspect the NBC news staff was intent on bringing down Perry, or at least trying to give Obama ammo if Perry ends up with the nomination.
Who Won? It depends,….once again Mitt Romney looked very Presidential. In most case he said the right things, the question is can you believe the guy. Romney did seem like a unifier something that will appeal to independents, but to get to the independents he needs to get the nomination and to be honest Romney is just not popular with his own party because of the lack of belief that he means what he says.
Romney did however have a great comeback to Perry in one of the early exchanges, on the issue of who’s state created more jobs:
“Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt,” Perry quipped, in a stinging reference to the former Massachusetts governor who lost the presidential election to George H.W. Bush.
Romney immediately shot back that “George Bush and his predecessors created jobs at a faster rate than you did.”
If there is a “Mr Cellophane” in this campaign there it is Rick Santorum. While I don’t agree with all of his positions, he handled himself very well when asked a question, but he wasn’t asked many. Santorum’s answer to the Catholic-poverty question was really heartfelt and the GOP should heed his approach on the reasons the welfare system needed to be changed.
“There is no one in the 12 years I was in the United State Senate who did more to work on poverty than Rick Santorum,” Santorum said. He then went on to discuss his work on the welfare reform bill in the 1990s. “We didn’t pass it to cut money, we didn’t pass it to punish anybody, we changed the welfare system because it was punishing people…it was creating a culture of dependency and we went out and talked to the American public and said trust us to end this federal entitlement, put a work requirement in place, put a time limit on welfare…and we will transform it from a dependency system to a transitional system.”
And finally we have the former Governor of Utah, Doctor Huntsman and Mr. Hyde. Jon Huntsman is so right on so many issues and extremely wrong on so many others. His economic program is excellent, but his refusal to acknowledge that the global warming consensus is non existent is very problematic. Especially when he gives the media (and the Democrats campaign lines about rejecting science). Its not a rejection of science it is a scientific disagreement.
In the end tonight’s debate served to clarify the GOP picture for the next five months till people begin to actually vote in primaries. It is a contest between Perry and Romney, the once promising Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann continue their march backwards. Santorum and Huntsman have their moments but gain no traction. Newt has good ideas and zingers, but the fact is people just don’t like him, and Dr Ron Paul is still a couple of french fries away from a happy meal.