Santorum: didn't waste time pointing fingers all night, just talked about conservatism and conservative principles and how that message wins voters. He didn't get to talk much but what he did say was memorable and resonated. I hope voters will pay more attention to him. He probably won the debate for overall positive impression.
Romney: got on Gingrich hard and went a little over the top in making his point, which was that if Gingrich wasn't in favor of Freddie Mac, he shouldn't have been taking money from them, but should have been loudly warning the public about the imminent housing bubble collapse. Also the debate between 'lobbying' and 'consulting.' He didn't need to press as hard as he did. After that opening segment debate, he stayed more on topic of defeating Obama and which policies of Obama's have failed, why he defends his record as conservative, etc. I'd still say he didn't have a great night overall.
Gingrich: He toned down his inflammatory rhetoric last night. He toned down the 'slimy politician' vibe. I'm sure this is calculated precisely because he IS a slimy politician, albeit a conservative one, but it was still something I was glad to see him do. I think he did a decent but by no means excellent job of defending himself. He still has a lot of questions to answer but at least he wasn't trying to dodge every single one of them as he usually does. We should still look for more details regarding his being forced out of the speakership, his ethics charges, and his role with Freddie Mac.
Paul: He's funny! I'm enjoying his humor. He pointed out Gingrich wasn't entirely truthful in his remarks defending his record. Otherwise he was consistent with any other debate performance he's given. Great on the economy, not quite rational with his foreign policy. To my great relief, he also definitely answered that he's not planning to run third party. Hallelujah!
Some memorable quotes:
ROMNEY: "Well, under that -- under that plan [Gingrich's 0% on capital gains], I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years."
As I've said before, he pays 15% tax because he lives on money he earned previously and paid the higher tax rate at the time he earned it.
ROMNEY: (On Bain jobs created) "And these are not just high-end financial jobs. We helped start Staples, for instance. It employs 90,000 people. These are middle- income people. There are entry-level jobs, too. I'm proud of the fact that we helped people around the country, Bright Horizons children centers, the Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics, a new steel company. These employ people, middle-income people.
And the nature of America is individuals pursuing their dreams don't make everyone else poorer; they help make us all better off. And so I'm not going to apologize for success or apologize for free enterprise. I believe free enterprise is one of the things that -- that we have to reinvigorate in this country if we want to get people working again."
SANTORUM: "My question to Governor Romney and to Speaker Gingrich, if you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street, where you had an opportunity to allow destructive capitalism to work, to allow a failure of a -- of a system that needed to fail because people did things that in capitalism pay -- you pay a price?"
Unanswered. I wish it had been, yet it had in other debates by skirting the question.
SANTORUM: (Concerning the foreseen collapse of the housing market) "The problem now is, what are you going to do about it? And what I've said is that, as you heard me say before, let capitalism work. Allow these -- allow these banks to -- to realize their losses. And create an opportunity for folks who have houses to realize their losses and at least help them out.
"That's why I proposed in my tax plan -- and I talk about five areas where I allow deductions -- well, one of them would be, be able to deduct losses from the sale of your home. Right now, you can't do that. You have to pay gains, depending on the amount, but you can't deduct the losses.
"This is something I think is important temporarily to put in place to allow people the freedom to be able to go out and get out from underneath these houses that they're holding onto and at least get some relief from the federal government for doing so."
It seemed that the other candidates agreed with him here.
SANTORUM: (about Cuba regarding trade with them or policy in general) "And you're right, Ron. It's not 1962. They're now with the Cubans and the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans. There is a growing network of folks now working with the jihadists, the Iranians, who are very, very excited about the opportunity to having platforms 90 miles off our coast, just like the Soviets were, very anxious to have platforms 90 miles off our coast, or in Venezuela, or in Nicaragua, and other places they could come across the southern border.
"This is a serious threat. It's a threat that I've been talking about for about six or seven years. And it's one that's not going to go away until we -- we confront the threat and hopefully are able to convince the Cuban people that, through what Newt and others have suggested, to -- to change their government at the appropriate time."
He's right. I really like Santorum's shrewdness with foreign policy.
SANTORUM: (about the risk of another oil spill versus opening new wells) "What threatens the tourist industry in Florida, as we've seen, is a very bad economy, and a very bad economy that became a bad economy why? Because of a huge spike in oil prices in the summer of 2008. So energy is absolutely key to keep all of our country healthy, specifically Florida, which is a destination place. This is a -- this is a place that relies upon people being able to travel and afford to be able to travel to come down here, relies upon an economy being strong. (...) It is absolutely essential that we have as much domestic supply of oil, that we build the Keystone pipeline, that we create the jobs that -- that that would create, and provide oil from domestic sources. Pipelines that run on the floor of the sea or pipelines that come through America are the safest way to transport oil. It is tankers that are causing -- that cause much more problems. Pipelines are the safe way. Building those rigs, piping that oil into -- into -- into our shore is the best way to create a good economy for the state of Florida."
Right on! I love it when politicians back me up on the benefits of domestic energy.
GINGRICH: (regarding the link between lowering tax rates and economic growth) "Well, the Bush tax cuts, I think in a period of great difficulty, with the attack of 9/11, actually stopped us from going into a much deeper slump. I think we would have been in much, much worse shape, and I think most economists agree, that in 2002 and '03 and '04 we'd have been in much worse shape without the Bush tax cuts.
"But -- but you have to also look at the regulatory burden. The reason I called for repealing Dodd-Frank and for repealing Obamacare and for repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is you now have these huge layers of paperwork and government intervention and bureaucratic micromanagement that are crippling the American system and are making it much harder for us to create the kind of jobs we'd want.
"In North Dakota today, we have a boom in oil development, unemployment is down to 3.2 percent. They have had seven straight tax cuts at the state level because the oil was on private land. If that oil had been on public land, the environmentalists and Barack Obama would have stopped its development, and North Dakota would be mired in 8 percent or 9 percent unemployment. So, get the regulations out of the way, get the tax incentives right, and you can get back to creating an amazing number of jobs very fast."
Self-evident. Government is intruding in our lives the effect that we have high costs for living and business!
SANTORUM: "They [Gingrich and Romney] rejected conservativism when it was hard to stand. It's going to be hard to stand whoever this president is going to be elected. It's going to be tough. There is going to be a mountain of problems. It's going to be easy to be able to bail out and compromise your principles.
We have gentlemen here on the three issues that got the Tea Party started, that are the base of the conservative movement now in the Republican Party. And there is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen. And that's why this election in Florida is so critical, that we have someone that actually can create a contrast between the president and the conservative point of view."
Very, very good points to consider.
ROMNEY: "We're still a great nation, but a great nation doesn't have so many people suffering. And I'm running in part because I have experience in how the economy works. And I want to use that experience to get people working again, to get our economy working again.
And the idea to get our economy working is not to have the government play a more intrusive role in how our economy works, but instead to do the seven things that always get an economy going: get taxes competitive, regulation as modest as possible and modernized, get ourselves energy independent, open up trade with other nations and crack down on cheaters, make sure we don't have crony capitalism -- that's what we have going on right now -- build human capital through education, and also finally balance the budget."
Also good things to remember and consider. All the things he's listed would be accomplished by any of them except probably Ron Paul. There were plenty of other statements last night from various candidates that are supported by each candidate. Huckabee was right when he said we are not at a loss to pick a candidate because they're all bad, but rather we're choosing between good candidates and we're not sure which one is best. I still think any of them could beat Obama, with the possible exception of Ron Paul since he comes off as incoherent and has horrible understanding of foreign policy.