Without having looked at any other analysis of the forum, I can say only that I really enjoyed it. The entire focus was jobs: more broadly touching on the economy and business. All three talked about failed policies under Obama. Romney was the clear winner in my mind, coming across as peronable and compassionate in person - in contrast to his less engaged debate performances. Gingrich lost the most without an audience. He tends to depend on audience expressions and applause to get him fired up, so he was in comparison subdued and remote. Santorum kept flashing this cheesy smile so he must have been told to look happier. I wasn't buying the cheese, but he still did a good job. I wish all the candidates had been asked similar questions, but each candidate answered his questions well.
What I learned:
Beyond confirming my suspicions that Romney is a caring, compassionate man (more than you'd expect for someone of his wealth), Romney has definite plans to get our budget under control, reign in spending, and grow the economy. He really knows business and management and it was clear that his private sector experience is exactly what prepares him to take on a nation burdened with excessive spending and debt. That's exactly what I'm looking for in a candidate. His genuine concern for our veterans was icing on the cake.
Gingrich reiterated the idea that Obama wants higher energy costs - he suggested $9 a gallon in Obama's second term. Given how much we've seen costs escalate in his first term and also his tepid responses to calls to lower prices, I completely agree and the idea strikes fear into my very bones because who can afford higher fuel costs, and consequential higher costs of living and doing business? Gingrich also talked about where he came up with the $2.50 a gallon, being a price that oil companies would see a return on their investments in opening new fields. He talked about his experience running a small business, etc, and the costs that are skyrocketing under Obama for a lot of small businesses, leading to fewer jobs and lower wages, etc.
Santorum talked about doing his own taxes because he wanted to live under the laws Congress enacts, and personally experience the changes in tax code. It sounds nice, but what does that really mean? That he knows what average Americans do because he experiences it? There is something to that. He sounds very knowledgable about the inner workings of government, which he is. It makes him sound like a big government guy. He's always talking about initiatives he took in the Senate to talk himself up and as the best solutions to the problems we face. Maybe they are, but it would be nice to hear him praise others' successful ideas once in awhile.