Last night, the Republican Candidates met for a debate in Dartmouth, NH and shown on Bloomberg Television, because apparently the media couldn't find a station that fewer people had access to than Bloomberg Television. Apparently Aurora, IL Channel 2 Cable Public Access wasn't available. (If you got that joke, let me know in the comments.)
First and foremost, I have to say this was just about the worst moderated debate I've seen this campaign season. It made me miss that first CNN debate with the "Elvis or Johnny Cash" questions. The fact that they dared take Ronald Reagan so far out of context as to quote that same "wealthiest pay their fair share" comment from Reagan in 1985 that was shown out of context. Let me give you that context: The tax system Reagan reformed was one where the "janitor" named in the speech was paying 10% of his wages in taxes and the wealthy individual was paying 0%. Reagan's "fair share" was a top marginal rate of 28%. If the wealthy paid what Reagan considered their "fair share," is a full 17% lower than what Barrack Obama calls the rich's "fair share," which, at last check, was 40% (whether he does it through "millionaires surtaxes" or "ending the Bush Tax Cuts.")
I wanted to high five every moderator in that debate in the face with a folding chair several times during the debate. It was ridiculous. I wanted to drive to New Hampshire to smack Charlie Rose in particular. Especially when he kept interrupting candidates because he was losing his debate.
So now let's play everyone's favorite Biblical Conservatism post-debate game: Buy, Hold, Sell, Sell All or Sold. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that's a stock market analogy.)
Michelle Bachmann – Sell (Hold):
After the last debate I thought Bachmann was going to swing upward. Unfortunately, she hasn't. In this debate she did okay, but she didn't really stand out as she did last time. For now I'll hold her stock, but she could be at the sell point soon. She needs to really make her stamp, or else she'll find herself in the Vice Presidential Nominee discussion but out of the Presidency. She seems to have become an attack dog at Governor Perry, but that's going to benefit Romney, not Bachmann.
Congresswoman Bachmann was articulate and said some good things in this debate. Unfortunately she didn't really have any great moments that really made her stand out. I think she's dropped off the radar in this race, thus far. That can change. I'm not selling all yet, because I know that we are still a full three months away from casting any vote. For now, however, I'm selling off Michelle Bachmann stock.
Herman Cain – Buy (Sell):
My opinion on Cain hasn't changed. His 9-9-9 Plan sounds good to me. I wish he had enough support nationally that I could consider voting for him. But right now his support is such that a vote for Cain could be a vote that doesn't cancel out the vote of a Democrat or Independent voting for the RINO in an open primary state. He'll be a great cabinet secretary or Vice President, but he's not going to be President.
Cain really knocked this debate out of the park. He explained and articulated his 9-9-9 Plan wonderfully. The explanation that the new sales tax is not just offset but actually overcome by the repeal of the Payroll Tax and the Federal Income tax and lead to a smaller tax burden. The other thing he explained well is that the 9-9-9 Plan is the only plan where EVERYONE is paying their real "fair share," which means that EVERYONE is paying taxes, not just 52% of us paying 100% of the taxes while the 48% pay 0% of the tax burden and receive the majority of the tax benefits. He really nailed it.
He took it hard on the 9% sales tax in the debate from the other candidates. I think he did a good job of responding and explaining that the plan is replacing the current pipeline, not giving a new tax pipeline.
Newt Gingrich – Hold (Hold):
Gingrich again is strong and does well in debates. He'd kick Obama's butt in a debate, but he's not going to get the nomination. He scores well in debates, but he doesn't do well in polls. I'm leaving him as a hold for now, because there's a small chance he turns it around, but for now I don't expect him to go far. He is, however, another person who could find a place in a new Republican administration in the cabinet. I stand on my previous statements with Newt. Once again he had great moments in the debate. He had great applause lines. He's just not doing well enough to be a viable candidate in 2012.
Newt really took it to the moderators. He's the reason I didn't hop in my car and drive to NH to smack Charlie Rose. (That and my desire to not spend money to drive to NH and smack someone and then go to jail for assault. That was in there too.) Newt has started to rise in the polls a bit. I'm holding on to Newt's Stock because he's just so good in these debates. He'd crush Obama in a debate. I'd love to see Newt as the Vice President, or for that matter as the White House Press Secretary if he'd take the job. Let's see if he can get back into this thing…because he could really take it to Obama.
Jon Huntsman - Sold (Sold):
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I ever get back! Let me root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame! For its one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ballgame! (Huntsman is such a waste of time I decided to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" instead of wasting time on him.)
I think the kids in those Peter G. Peterson Foundation commercials explaining how economics work would make better candidates than Jon Huntsman. Also, who names their kid Peter Peterson? Moving on.
Gary Johnson – Sold (Sell All)
Who? I mean seriously…who let Kermit the Frog in the debate? But seriously, he's in the Huntsman category, although Johnson's not a RINO. But he isn't going to be our nominee. Moving on.
Kermit stayed home this time. Miss Piggy wouldn't let him come out and play I guess. Too bad. (Not really.)
Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):
It occurred to me since the last debate that, in the strictest sense of the term, Paul is a RINO. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that's "Republican In Name Only.") Now, Paul isn't the moderate, wimpy, half liberal sort of RINO. Not in the slightest. But Paul is a Republican by default, because the political term that most applies to him is Libertarian. Now that's not a bad thing, my friends. As I've said before, I agree with Paul on about 75% of issues. However, he's not in line with the mainstream conservative Republican party, and that's why he won't get the nomination.
No change in my opinion from Paul. Unlike the last two candidates listed, I respect Ron Paul. So I'll just leave it at that.
Rick Perry – Hold (Buy):
I'm buying, but I'm buying slower. I felt Perry was on his heels a lot. He went head to head with Romney and I felt Romney got the better of him. I question his opposition to a border fence on our Mexican border and also his allowance of in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens. He had some good moments too. Here's the problem I have thus far with Perry, I feel he's a little vague. I need to know more of what I can expect from a Perry Presidency beyond platitudes. Not sure if he's obfuscating or just not making specific promises before he finds out what's going on from the Oval Office desk. Where I felt he did well, however, was presenting his views on small, limited government. He's still a valid conservative, but I just want more information!
Rick Perry is losing people fast. He needs to have specific plans. Right now it still feels like he's obfuscating (that's "being confusing without saying anything" for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL). He really has lost a lot of potential in my mind. When a Republican can't respond effectively to a Ronald Reagan question, there's a problem.
Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):
I felt Romney won the head to head with Perry and the debate overall. He had moments that made me cringe, like when he went on and on about protecting the middle class, because I don't believe in any separation of Americans. We're all Americans. We all pay too high of a percentage in taxes, and we all should see a rate reduction. I thought Romney was playing the class game a bit, and that bothered me. Where I do trust Romney is understanding how to create a positive business climate, because, as he's said, his experience is mainly in the private sector. His weakness, however, is Romneycare and that hurts him in my book.
Another great debate performance from Mitt Romney. His tough stance on China was impressive, if he lives it out, and I felt he did a good job showing that he is a good candidate on the economy. Now Mitt is not my first choice, and pretty much the only way he'll get my vote in the primary is if Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum are out of the race (in that order). That said, he's doing a good job of convincing me that, if Mitt becomes our nominee, it wouldn't remind me of holding my nose in 2008 and voting for John McCain. (Actually, in 2008, I voted for Sarah Palin and her boss.)
In short, Mitt to me is like a vanilla ice cream cone. By comparison, my current favorite, Herman Cain, would be like eating a big delicious ice cream sundae with all the fixings*. I'd be happy to eat a vanilla ice cream cone. I'd enjoy it. I'd rather eat a sundae with all the fixings. That's the line with Mitt…we can do better as conservatives. We also can do a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, Romneycare could be a big problem for Mitt.
Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):
I stand on my previous belief on Santorum. Now, there was one moment he said something I really liked; that a person's sexuality shouldn't be even an issue in the military, and treating Don't Ask Don't Tell as a rule that applies to both heterosexual and homosexual individuals, specifically, one's sexuality belongs in private time, not public. Such things are rarely discussed in my private sector workplace, and I work in an industry that discusses such things more (radio). Ultimately, Don't Ask Don't Tell should be reinstated, FOR EVERYONE. Let's make sexuality a topic not discussed in the military on official time, just like politics tends to be in the military.
Santorum spent a lot of time trying to get back into the spotlight. It didn't work. Considering he's from Pennsylvania, he's got a shot at being the Vice Presidential nominee in an effort to turn that 2008 blue state into a red state in 2012. But he's not going to be the President, at least not without serving first as Vice President, and not in 2012.
In a final note, I'd like to note to Charlie Rose that here at Biblical Conservatism we've been using the alphabetical order for the candidates for now four debates. Please feel free to use us as a source for that purpose.
We're still seeing the field shape up. So much can change. Last time I wrote one of these responses, I was writing Herman Cain off. I've been proven wrong. So much can change. I think we could see more changes as this time goes on. This field could change too. So my recommendation to all of you is to support the candidate you think is best and don't concern yourself with "electability." Pretty much every one of those candidates on stage is more electable than Barrack Obama. This is a time for choosing. Pick the most conservative person and vote for him or her.
*In 2008, I compared John McCain to eating a meal of plain white bread and Barrack Obama to eating a turd. I said I don't want to eat just white bread, but at least its food and nourishment and won't make me sick. Jon Huntsman would be white bread, for the record. Mitt Romney would be an improvement on not just Obama but on John McCain in 2008, but there are better options.