What a night! The crowd was pumped, the candidates were at top form, and the overall theme was taking every topic home to the failures of President Barack Obama. His failures in foreign policy, domestic policy, generating growth and jobs, reigning in spending, reducing crony-capitalism... I don't see how any one of those candidates, running a strong campain, could fail to beat Barack Obama in a general election, with the possible exception of Ron Paul.
Loser: Ron Paul. I hope he sufficiently scared people with his naive foreign policy that they'll leave running. He runs left of Obama on foreign policy! Michele Bachman was right on when she said it was dangerous policy to have as the Iranian-taught ennobling principle is martyrdom as opposed to freedom (Santorum brought that up), when their Constitution a worldwide jihad, and Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon and has declared war on us and Paul doesn't want to defend the people in Israel or the United States against a threatened nuclear attack? Get real. Sure there are times for diplomacy, but diplomacy doesn't do anything with evil tyrants.
Winner: Mitt Romney. This was close. There were any number of things that stood out from the entire left hand side of the stage, including Newt Gingrich, but Mitt really came through shining. He embraced the opportunity to defend his role governing in a liberal state, defending his continual anti-abortion and pro-family stances during that time, and fighting back in every conceivable way when liberals won on those issues in his state. He brought it back to Obama's failed policies time and time again. He welcomed the opportunities to clarify his record (unlike Gingrich, who seemed peeved at times) and did so in an unpretentious, genuine way. He was witty, likeable, gave specifics in how he would go after Obama, gave specifics on how he would regenerate American prosperity. It was abundantly clear that he knew what he was talking about and had confidence in his abilities to lead. I know there are plenty of people who think he's out of touch because he's wealthy: I strongly disagree.
Summing up the others:
Santorum: he would make a fantastic secretary of defense. He really knows about the relationships between countries, the principles behind different regimes, the time for diplomacy and the time for defense. He's not as strong on the economy as most of his counterparts, yet he does have an excellent record of success in the face of overwhelming opposition, unlike Bachmann.
Perry: He's become so comfortable at debates that I wouldn't be surprised if people start giving him a second look.
Gingrich: Defensive. He seems to be straddling the fine line between defending himself and not attacking the other opponents with their reservations towards accepting him as a candidate, but we'll see. He has a lot of baggage to defend. I'll be interested to see if he keeps his lead in the polls.
Ron Paul: He wouldn't say he'd rule out a third party run. That would hand it to Obama, he's got to know that! Is that what he really wants? I don't trust a man like that.
Bachmann: On offense. She's got nothing to lose by this stance, and I think she's filling a valuable need to question several statements and positions of both Gingrich and Paul in this particular debate. She's spent other debates focusing on other candidates like Romney or Perry. She's asking questions that need to be asked and need to be answered as we carefully consider choosing a candidate.
Huntsman: Vague and pandering to the people who don't like pandering. I don't know why he's still on stage. He's also got to know that third party means more Obama, yet he's considering it. Oh, the vanity of man!
What did you all think? You can watch it here, or wait for a forthcoming transcript. I am delighted to have arrived at the same conclusions as Rush Limbaugh about the overall debate performance, in fact he said it was the best debate yet!