Last night the Republican candidates met for a debate on National Security in our nation's capital. First and foremost, I'm going to give props to a network that I usually lambast: CNN did a good job of moderating a very fair and balanced debate. They did a nice job of spreading out the questions to all candidates and they didn't play "gotcha." As many questions came from members of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups were asked as questions from Wolf Blitzer. Also, although Blitzer tends to lean left, that's better than falling directly to their left side like most in the Drive-By Media. Also, Blitzer reminds me a combination of my favorite college professor, the late Dr. Billy Reed (a teacher who I remember very fondly) and Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World. Oh, and also he reminds me of the guy in the Men's Warehouse commercials (you're going to like the way you look…I guarantee it.)
So let's play a round of everyone's favorite post-debate analysis game: Buy, Hold, Sell, or Sell All.
Michelle Bachmann – Sell (Sell):
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.
Again, Congresswoman Bachmann had some great moments. She had a great exchange with Governor Rick Perry on the subject of Pakistan. Her debate performances keep going up…but her poll numbers don't. I think Congresswoman Bachmann might be a good Vice Presidential nominee, I also think if, as expected, Speaker of the House John Boehner faces a Tea Party primary challenge, and if he loses, Bachmann would make a fine Speaker of the House. But right now I do not see her rebounding.
Herman Cain – Hold (Buy):
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."
Foreign Policy is not Cain's strong suit. He spent a whole lot of time obfuscating in this debate. He gave a lot of safe answers that didn't have a lot of substance. He's also dropped to 3rd place in many polls.
Now to give you a shocker: I don't think it has a whole lot to do with the Drive-By Media hit job with the unfounded claims of sexual harassment. I think why Cain is dropping is due to the very issue last night's debate handled: National Security. Conservatives, including yours truly, is becoming concerned about Cain's ability to be Commander-in-Chief and his lack of knowledge on National Security. He had one great line, "Enforce the laws we already have…we don't need new laws!" I couldn't agree more. The laws we have are enough, now enforce them! Great moments aside, though, I have serious doubts that Mr. Cain is ready to be the Commander in Chief.
Now I can tell you what a great job to learn those issues would be for Mr. Cain: Vice President of the United States. Seriously….as the #2 man behind Newt Gingrich or (sigh) Mitt Romney, Cain would get the experience he needs and have the opportunity to step up to the proverbial big chair in eight years.
Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):
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.
Gingrich again showed that he is, in my opinion, the single most knowledgeable candidate on pretty much every issue in these debates. He understands reality and understands how to solve problems. (Yes, I'm becoming a Newt man, if you didn't pick that up.) He understands that developing our domestic energy supplies, namely oil, will solve a whole lot of problems in our national security by removing our dependence on many foreign nations for those supplies. And yes, Newt is right, if we are serious, we can change the face of the oil market by drilling for our own oil in a serious manner.
Newt did a good job, although I do think he was hurt by CNN spreading out the questions evenly because, by other debates have given the frontrunner more questions, and that frontrunner, friends, is Newt Gingrich.
Jon Huntsman – Not In Attendance (Sold):
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."
Well, a pig flew by tonight because I agreed with Huntsman on one statement: We do need term limits for Congress. Then he proceeded to drive me so crazy through the debate that I felt I couldn't just make a fun joke about Governor Huntsman. I've seen pieces of wet one-ply toilet paper with more tensile strength than John Huntsman's spine. He's a wimp, and we've already got a wimp in the White House.
Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):
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.
When Paul talked about our spending problems, I stood up and cheered. Yes, I agree that our spending problem is one of our biggest national security issues. That being said, in a few places, Paul also showed a whole lot of the reasons why I can't support him…on the subject of National Security, Congressman Paul sleeps with his Happy Imagination Hat on. I, on the other hand, live in the Real World. Honestly, I do not believe that we can just play the isolationist game in this modern world…we just can't. I'm sorry, but that's the reality. To paraphrase a favorite television show, there's a time and a place for everything, including idealism and it's called college. It's not called the White House.
Overall, however, Paul focused on the 85% of issues I agree with, and stayed away from a lot of the issues where I do agree with Cain, starting with really dealing with our real problem, which again is not revenue, it's spending.
Congressman Paul really fascinates me, because he has a condo up the street from me in the Real World that he lives in 11 months a year, but then decides to take out his Happy Imagination Hat and live at his time share in Happy Imagination Land when it comes to foreign policy. I just don't get it. How can one man be so realistic when it comes to the economy and so unrealistic when it comes to foreign policy?
Rick Perry – Hold (Hold):
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 is 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.
Perry maintained his gains from the last debate. He's begun to pick up a few points in the polls. I really like his plans, I like his Flat Tax, I like his Balanced Budget Amendment, I especially like the idea of making Congress part-time. That being said, I don't really think he's going to rebound THIS ELECTION. I do think you could see Perry be a very strong candidate in eight years as a second time Presidential candidate. So many candidates are better the second time around. Look at Mitt Romney. Also, look at Ronald Reagan. I'm not writing Perry off yet, because his numbers are climbing, but I don't know if there's enough time to climb back to the top.
I also want to give a quick reality check to Governor Perry: Just because you were able to work with Democrats in Texas, doesn't mean you can work together in the same manner with Democrats in the United States Congress. The man Governor Perry served under as Lieutenant Governor of Texas, former President George W. Bush had the same expectation and it didn't pan out…and that's because a Democrat in Texas is often more conservative by a fair margin than a Republican in say, Connecticut or New York.
I think Perry did well tonight, just based on debate performance. I think he stood strong and did pretty well.
Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):
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.
"What you have is a President who has a priority of spending us into bankruptcy, but he's not just spending us into bankruptcy, he's spending the money foolishly." Amen, Mitt, amen. Once again, foreign policy is a good place for Mitt. I genuinely would trust him to keep ups safe if he became President, just like I trusted George W. Bush to keep us safe. That's the big reason why I could live with Mitt as President. I still want better, though.
Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):
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.
Honestly, I'm getting annoyed with Santorum. He's so busy showing he can play the same lame compromise game (I promise I wasn't trying to do a Dr. Seuss impression) that has caused the problems we have in Washington. Democrats want Republicans to compromise when the GOP is in power, and then tells us "elections have consequences, and we won" when Democrats are in power. We do not need to compromise with Democrats. We need to defeat them. Santorum wants to play the same Washington insider game, and we don't have time for that game.
Debate Winner(s): Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul
Please note: My debate winners have zero to do with chances to win the Republican Nomination.
As it sits now, the race for my personal vote looks like this:
- Newt Gingrich
- Rick Perry
- Herman Cain