Recapping the Iowa GOP Debate
If you bothered to watch the GOP debate last night, you caught the most entertaining show yet as candidates sparred over each others record and on certain issues. There were plently of questions about credibility and viability, most of which were entirely valid. But if you were looking for a serious discussion on the real issues the country faces, including dealing with entitlements, you were no doubt disappointed.
Here is the debate, in case you missed it:
As far as winners go, I’d say that Mitt Romney could be considered a winner since he came out unscathed, not because he offered impressive knowledge of the issues or gave a dominating performance. Michele Bachmann probably should be considered a winner as well because the sparring with Tim Pawlenty probably helped her more than it hurt her.I don’t know why any candidate would purposefully pick a fight with her and keep at it like that. It only endures her more to her base.
Who are the losers? Anyone that watched and Newt Gingrich, who spent part of the evening complaining petulant 10 year-old that the questions were unfair.
Michele Bachmann: Even though her numbers have dropped as Rick Perry has edged closer to entering the race, Bachmann is still pushing the narrative in the GOP race. Last night was no different. At two different times last night, she and Tim Pawlenty were trading insults. Bachmann was pointing out some past positions that Pawlenty has taken, including supporting cap-and-trade. Pawlenty in turn pointed out her credibility issues. It was probably the more entertaining part of the debate. More on that in a second. Bachmann also pointed out several times that she opposed the debt ceiling increase.
Herman Cain: Moderators asked Cain a couple of questions about divisive comments he has made about Muslims, including a call to stop the building of a mosque in Tennessee. Cain said he respected religious freedom, and tried to play to the misguided part of the GOP base that are concerned about the so-called “threat” of Sharia law. Cain also said he’d like to cut corporate income taxes and frequently said we need to get the “economic engine” of the country moving again. Cain said that he opposed raising the debt ceiling without credible spending cuts. He didn’t mention that he backed $700 billion unfunded Wall Street bailout in 2008. From what I’ve heard, his advisors realize that Cain isn’t going anywhere and are already looking at a statewide race (and they’e not ruling out a primary against a sitting Republican) here in Georgia in 2014.
Jon Huntsman: Yeah, he has no chance of winning and I think he is justifiably suspect on spending, but Huntsman contrasted himself from the rest of the field by supporting civil unions. But he didn’t really show much personality.
Newt Gingrich: Early in the debate, Gingrich took issue with a question from Chris Wallace on whether departures from his staff were the final blow to his campaign. Like it or not, it was a valid question because of how far he has fallen since mid-May. Gingrich, who backed TARP and the Wall Street bailout, essentially said that defense spending cuts should be off the table, leaving me to wonder what exactly he would be willing to cut if elected. He also joined Cain in fear-mongering over Muslims. Frankly, I’m not sure why people continue to hail him as intellectual leader of the conservative movement, unless they’re admitting that conservatism is statism.
Ron Paul: I don’t say this to insult Ron Paul, but it was he typical debate performance. He made some excellent points, but they were so scattered that most of them didn’t sink in with the crowd. His sparring with Santorum over Iran was entertaining. In case you missed it, Paul rightly said Iran isn’t a threat to the United States. That caused Santorum to turn into Rudy Giuliani and go off on a tangent. But when it comes to discussing the economy, Paul continues to give lectures on monetary policy. Kudos to him for realizing the fault of these policies, but they are points that only a fraction of voters understand.
Tim Pawlenty: A lot of people were saying after the debate that Pawlenty did well. He certainly presented himself better than he had in first two debates, but I wouldn’t label him a winner. The sideshow debate between he and Bachmann was largely pointless since all attacking her does is gain her more support, as valid as the criticism may be. He finally decided to point out the similarities between RomneyCare and ObamaCare, but it was so telegraphed that Romney was well-prepared.
Mitt Romney: He had to answer for RommeyCare, which became the blueprint for ObamaCare, but he was mostly untouched during the debate. Romney also gave a nod to Cain during the debate, noting they both have business experience. This obviously prompted speculation that Cain could be a choice for Romney’s running mate.
Rick Santorum: Honestly, I don’t have anything good to say about Santorum outside of the fact that last night was his best debate performance, though it won’t be good enough for him to be a real factor in the race. Santorum lectured the about the need for leadership, knocking Bachmann and Paul in the process. Of course, his definition of leadership is apparently voting for big government programs and expanding entitlements, which is exactly what he did in Congress. He also discussed, as noted above, the threat Iran is to the country and noted how the regime robs its citizens, including women and gays, of rights. That’s sort of odd coming from someone that uses divisive wedge social issues to gain traction.