Saturday night, the Republican Presidential Candidates met in South Carolina for a debate, televised on CBS. The moderators weren't as bad as the CNBC crowd last week, but they really annoyed me by once again trying to participate. What I find hilarious is that these moderators kept trying to debate with Newt Gingrich, which consistently ends up being just as useful as attempting to take down a brick wall using only your head.
Today, and moving forward, I'm adding two new features to my debate reactions: My current Top 3 Contenders for my vote in the New York State Republican primary and the person or people I felt won the debate. So let's play a round of our favorite post debate stock market analogy: Buy, Hold, Sell or Sell All:
Michelle Bachmann – Sell (Sell):
Bachmann had good moments, but her place in the polls has tanked. I like what she said about everyone paying taxes, even if it's $10 a year. I agree. When the Left talks about someone "not paying their fair share," but they ignore that 47% of Americans pay zero taxes and then consumes more than half of the government welfare. So 47% of people pay no taxes and use all the tax money.
At one point Congresswoman Bachmann was my top choice. Right now I don't feel she's got a chance, and I'm not wasting my vote on idealism. Maybe she can be Vice President, but not President.
Bachmann had a great debate. She said some great things. For example, "President Obama is letting the ACLU to run the CIA." That being said, it's going to take an awful lot for Congresswoman Bachmann to get back into this race at this point.
Herman Cain – Buy (Buy):
Cain has had a rough couple of weeks. Early on, the moderators tried to play gotcha with Cain. It didn't work. He came off as genuine in his response. I will say this over and over, when Cain denies these charges, deep down in places I don't talk about at parties, I believe him. Cain is an honest man. The best phrase to describe him is "what you see is what you get." He really answered well.
Then he got back on message. He talked about 9-9-9. He talked about making taxes fairer and transparent. He really got back on topic today. I believe if Cain can stay on message he'll get past this propped up, made up scandal and continue to succeed.
Herman Cain is still hanging in there. He's winning most national polls still and, despite the Drive-By Media's best efforts, this sexual harassment scandal is not forcing Cain out of the race, even given the stories that the Drive-Bys are ignoring (more on that later this week).
This debate was out of Cain's wheelhouse, at least on paper. His strength is in the area of jobs and the economy. Yet he came off as more knowledgeable than I expected. Clearly Cain has done his homework and has good people advising him on the subject, because it's not as important to be knowledgeable on your own but rather to surround yourself with knowledgeable people. Cain did get tripped up some on the "torture" question. However, I do trust him to surround himself with the right people, and ultimately, that's what matters. As my good friend and fellow blogger the JC Freak said to me after the debate, Cain's strategy is to "not be Hitler and assume that he is a military genius who micromanage everything, but instead listen to his generals."
Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):
In debates, Newt is the man. He tells it like it is and does it in a way that people can digest. I loved when he said that there were two points in our history of rapid economic growth, the Reagan Years and the Contract with America (bad news, Clinton fans, it wasn't Clinton who caused the 90s Boom, it was the Contract with America). Both of those eras had one huge similarity: Lower taxes and let people keep their own money, because private citizens do better with their money than government ever can. Newt is on the rise, and I think he has a chance. I'm seriously considering voting for him now. He was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. I'm glad to see his rise.
Newt has now pulled into a 2nd place tie with Mitt Romney and within the margin of error of frontrunner Herman Cain. He's for real in this race. I said for a long time that if Gingrich showed me he could win, I'd love to back him. Well here we are…and I'm leaning toward backing him.
What I love about Gingrich most of all is the looks that he gives the moderators when they ask really stupid questions…a look that says "are you REALLY that stupid?" before he answers it. He nailed it agreeing with Rick Perry about starting at $0 in foreign aid and then requiring them to prove why we should support them with foreign aid.
Newt had so many great lines, however my favorites included:
"There are a number of ways to be smart about Iran and there are relatively few ways to be dumb, and the (Obama) Administration skipped all the ways to be smart."
And when asked if he wanted to comment on his statement that Mitt Romney was a "competent manager" but not able to make real changes in Washington, Newt simply said "No," then proceeded to reiterate that ANY of the people on this stage would be better than Barrack Obama, which is so very true.
Jon Huntsman – Sold (Sold):
I'm kind of glad Huntsman is in these debates. It gives me a chance to use the bathroom or make a sandwich.
Rather than wasting time talking about Jon Huntsman and his magenta tie, I've decided to provide a link to a video of Abbott and Costello doing their classic routine "Who's On First."
Gary Johnson – Not in Attendance (Sold):
Johnson showed up at what, one debate? Is he still running? Does anybody care?
I'm going to start leaving Johnson off these things. He isn't even showing at debates.
Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):
I like some of Paul's plans, namely cutting $1 Trillion from the budget in year one. Unfortunately there's still that 15% where I can't agree with him.
You know that 15% of policies where I completely disagree with Ron Paul? This debate highlighted those differences. (For example, I still do not believe that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction based on simple logic, specifically that dictators don't give up easily. I do agree that President's shouldn't go to war without a declaration of war from Congress.)
Ron Paul's issue on foreign policy is that he lives with his Magic Imagination Hat on where every ideal can be realized. I, on the other hand, live in the Real World. This is why Paul can't win the GOP nomination, most of the party doesn't vote with their Magic Imagination Hats on.
Rick Perry – Hold (Hold):
Perry got better in this debate before he got worse. At first he was figuring out how to properly present conservatism. As I've said recently, I like his Flat Tax. I like his plan to remove all regulations added by the Obama administration based on one critera, "if it costs jobs, get rid of it." My other favorite Perry statement tonight was "If you're too big to fail, you're too big." And then the gaffes happened.
At one point I thought that Perry was back on the rise, and I was glad, because I think he's one of the conservative powerhouses in this race and if he can prove he can win I'd love to back him. Then he couldn't complete answering a question and looked like a bumbling fool. Once again I continue to stay that real conservatism wins every single time it's effectively communicated. The problem is I still doubt if Perry can effectively communicate it.
Perry got better this time. Again, he has gotten stronger in the debates. He's learning to communicate his message more effectively. I think perhaps he's doing debate prep and practicing. I say it all the time, real conservatism wins whenever it's effectively communicated. Perry's issue isn't not being a real conservative, thus far it's been effectively communicating it. I think it was very wise for Perry to join the joke and laugh at his own gaffe in the last debate. Self-deprecating humor was one of the things that made his former boss and our former President, George W. Bush, so approachable and why Bush won two elections against people who were, on paper, stronger debaters.
My favorite Perry quote was "The foreign budget for any nation in my administration will start at $0," and then we would consider increasing it if a nation proves they are supporting us.
Perry is giving me hope that he might rebound. As I've said, on paper, he's the candidate that best represents my values. I think Perry could be someone who ends up being a frontrunner someday, but not this election. I think being a 2nd time Presidential candidate in eight years could be a big difference for Perry, much like Mitt Romney is much improved since 2008.
Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):
Mitt had good moments and bad. One of his best moments was explaining the definition of profits. He got out of his robotic mode and got excited and showed emotion about capitalism. He had a rough moment early on when he was being questioned about his flip flops. What it really comes down to is that Romney would be okay, but we can do better. We've got, by my count, five dyed in the wool conservatives on that stage, and I want better than Mitt.
Foreign policy is a good topic for Mitt. I have my issues with him on domestic policy because I question whether or not he's conservative ENOUGH on taxes, on the economy, etc. But like I said for eight years under George W. Bush, I do trust him to keep us safe.
I thought Mitt came out strong at several times, including his clear statement against Barrack Obama for believing that his personal charisma would make the difference in a world filled with evil people (I'm paraphrasing here) and that the President thinks of this country as just another nation. I agree with Mitt, America is not just another nation. America is the great, shining city on a hill.
Tonight's debate gave me reasons that, if Romney is our nominee, I could get behind Mitt and support him. I still hope for better, but I will get behind him if I need to in the general election.
Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):
Santorum had a great debate. He really was on the ball. I just don’t see him getting revved up. Maybe I’m wrong. But for now, he’s getting 2-3% in polls. He’s got no chance.
Santorum bumbled a lot on Saturday. When he said "Pakistan MUST be our friend" to me was a stupid statement. Yes, Pakistan is a nuclear power. So is North Korea. The idea that because someone is a bully that it's better to befriend the bully out of fear that the bully might attack us next, even though we KNOW we would clean said bully's clock in a fight. The better thing to do is to let the bully know that we will take the bully out if they try to pick on any of the other kids.
Another debate, kind of a short one considering how many candidates we have in the race, but entertaining.
Debate Winner(s): Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney
Honorable Mention: Rick Perry (For delivering better than expected.)
As it sits now, the race for my personal vote looks like this:
- Newt Gingrich
- Herman Cain
- Rick Perry