Winners & Losers In The GOP’s New Hampshire Debate

There was a debate last night. Did you see it? If not, it may be because it was on freaking Bloomberg TV. I don’t know where they go from there. CB radio, maybe?

Charlie Rose was the debate moderator, the debate was entirely focused on the economy, and there was actually a round where the candidates got to ask each other questions (That should be in every debate). All in all, it was a good debate. A lot less “Gardasil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “Why don’t you pick a fight with that guy?” and a lot more time focused on issues. Here’s a rundown of how everyone did.

Winner: 1) Newt Gingrich. He’s just head and tails better than everyone else on the stage. He’s knowledgable, charismatic, positive — he’s just an outstanding debater. In fact, if this were all about debating, the race would be over already and Gingrich would be the nominee.

“If you want to put people in jail, you should start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.” — Newt Gingrich in response to a question about putting banking executives in jail for the housing crash

“You gotta be able to afford it to be able to buy it and that’s where we went wrong in the last decade.” — Newt Gingrich

2) Michele Bachmann/Herman Cain/Rick Santorum. Michele Bachmann looked and sounded good. She was crisp, knowledgable, but, she also said this:

“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down, the devil’s in the details.” — Michele Bachmann

Personally, I thought the line was funny, but it didn’t seem to get a good reaction — maybe because it sounds like a SNL parody of Bachmann.

“Obama plans for Medicare to collapse so everyone will be pushed into Obamacare.” — Michele Bachmann

Santorum made a fantastic point about how the number of children being born out of wedlock is driving poverty in this country, ignored the moderator and kept going at one point, and just knocked Cain’s block off when he got a chance — he’s just like the Honey Badger up there. Rick Santorum don’t give a crap!!!

Herman Cain was a little “one note.” The answer to every question was 9-9-9. That’s a dilemma created by Cain’s situation. He’s trying to build name recognition and since the plan is generally getting a good reaction, he keeps repeating it. But people who hear it over and over again are going to get annoyed with it.

He also noted that he initially supported TARP, which may be the first time some of the people who are excited about him have heard that. In his defense, he has said that he later changed his mind because he didn’t like how TARP was implemented.

Although Cain seemed a little one dimensional in the early part of the debate, he picked it up and improved his performance in the second half of the debate.

“I don’t object to the Federal Reserve being audited. It’s simply not my top priority. My top priority is 9-9-9!” — Herman Cain

5) Ron Paul: Ron Paul is generally pretty good on the economy — and he was tonight. He tends to have a round-a-bout rambling style though and even when he’s saying things you agree with, he doesn’t always come across well. In that sense, and this could be a positive to a lot of people, he’s the anti-Mitt Romney. On the upside, it makes him seem more authentic, but on the other hand, it’s hard to picture Ron Paul as the leader of the free world.

Ron Paul press release sent out during the debate: “Cain’s 9-9-9 Doesn’t Add Up”

6) Rick Perry: Perry wasn’t sleepy like he was at the last debate, but he was…what’s the best word for it — adequate, maybe? He spent a lot of time talking about energy and Texas, which is to be expected, but he didn’t have a lot of fire and he didn’t give the impression that he is as knowledgable about the economy or knows as much about the issues as most of the other people on the stage. He also didn’t have a lot of great lines. Although this was an improvement over his last debate performance, it wasn’t a good performance for him.

“The reason we have that many people living in poverty is because the President is a job killer.” — Rick Perry

7) John Huntsman: Huntsman said some funny things and although he’s very much a centrist, he stayed on point tonight. So, there’s nothing to complain about there.

Here’s the thing: Huntsman’s just not a particularly likable guy. He comes across as weird, nasty tempered, and a little smarmy. These are just some of the Twitter comments from the debate and I agreed with all of them — although the last one was pretty mean.

Explaining Huntsman’s jokes: lots of people tell rich kids they’re funny. — bdomenech

Huntsman is the awkward character in bad sci-fi movies who you aren’t sure if he wants to help or kill you. #econdebate #tcot — DerekBrigham

I have a new game, every time we hear 999 someone punches Huntsman in the mouth. Volunteers? — cprater

In his defense, he did get off some decent lines, too.

“I thought (9-9-9) was the price of a pizza when I first heard of it.” — Jon Huntsman

“Pennsylvania isn’t the gas capital of the United States. Washington is the gas capital of the United States.” — Jon Huntsman

Loser: 8) Mitt Romney: Many people are calling Mitt Romney the winner of this debate because he sounded knowledgable, smooth, and got off a few good lines.

All true.

He also defended Romneycare, supported TARP, noted he was open to doing more bailouts, and wanted to start a trade war with China.

There’s a lot to be said for sounding good, but how many GOP primary voters want to put someone in office who’s up for another round of Wall Street bailouts? Also, starting a trade war with China when the economy is already flagging may make some people’s hearts’ flutter, but it’s absolutely insane as economic policy. The Smoot—Hawley Tariff Act was one of the things that mired us in the Depression and Romney is ready for Act Two? Right after he bails out some more banks?

Declaring Romney the winner after he dropped that bomb seems positively wacky.

“I can tell you this; I’m not going to have to call up Timothy Geithner and say, ‘How does the economy work?'” — Mitt Romney

“You have a President who’s well meaning, but over-his-head with the economy.” — Mitt Romney

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