by John Hawkins | September 23, 2011 12:01 am
The Fox/Google Debate covered a lot of old ground, spent too much time focused on Romney and Perry, and there weren’t a lot of great lines delivered. In other words, it wasn’t a particularly exciting debate.
Winner — Mitt Romney He was consistently good, sharp, funny, and he won his exchanges with Perry. Although the next block of candidates probably performed as well as Romney, he benefitted from having the debate centered on him and Perry. He was good and they were good, but the format allowed him to be good for a longer period of time.
2) Rick Santorum / Herman Cain / and Newt Gingrich: Gingrich was outstanding, as per usual. Cain, who was fantastic in his first debate, has been a little flat since then. Tonight, he was very good and his story about how he would have died under Obamacare really hit home. Santorum had his 2nd strong debate in a row as well. Surprisingly, he even punked Rick Perry on immigration on one point. Since they were all so good, it was hard to pick between them, but all three candidates helped themselves tonight.
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5) Jon Huntsman: Huntsman had a pretty good night, just not quite as good as the four people in front of him. It seems doubtful that this debate helped him a lot, but it probably didn’t hurt him either and if there are people out there who’re favorably inclined towards him, but wanted to hear a little more of what he’s all about, then this might have moved them off of the fence.
6) Michele Bachmann: Bachmann has impaled herself on the Gardasil issue. She sounds HORRIBLE on it and she really didn’t stand out with her other answers tonight. The magnificent Michele Bachmann from the first debate has been nowhere to be seen since then.
7) Gary Johnson and Ron Paul: Johnson had the line of the night, which was that his neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than Obama. Of course, he also said he wanted to cut defense by 43%. Paul managed to make it through the night without rambling on about militarism; so he sounded generally good. However, now you have two candidates on the stage fighting for that same sliver of the GOP base. Over the long haul, if Johnson gets any traction, a good bit of it will probably come at Paul’s expense.
9) Loser — Rick Perry: Perry was off his game badly tonight. He seemed distracted and unfocused. In fact, he reminded me of George Bush in his second term, when his handlers had beaten all of the interesting Texas swagger out of him and he just mumbled mostly forgettable mush. Perry also was further exposed on illegal immigration. In fact, Rick Santorum just stomped him on the issue. Perry also made the mistake of saying that people who are against the DREAM Act have no heart, which is going to be extremely offensive to a lot of conservatives, who do oppose the DREAM Act and are tired of being attacked as racists, bigots, and heartless because they don’t want to reward people for their illegal behavior. Perry’s poor performance, combined with Mitt’s strong one, will probably be enough to push Mitt ahead of him in a few polls — at least for the moment.
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