Monday, June 13, 2011

Post New Hampshire GOP Debate Wrap-Up

Calm Stage Before the NH Debate
(Courtesy: AP)
My earliest reaction to tonight's debate is that Newt Gingrich was, without question, the winner. That begs the question, then, where would Gingrich be without his early missteps? Unfortunately, there is no good answer to the question.

So, why did Gingrich win the debate? As I noted in a previous post, Gingrich's flair for debating should never be taken lightly. It is clear that the man is highly intellectual, knows the issues, and is able to recall his knowledge at outstanding rate. For these reasons, Gingrich set himself apart from the rest of the crowd by coming up with original answers to questions. For example, off the top of my head, Gingrich answered that the first step in ensuring that all Americans have the right to work is to defund the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The other candidates mostly talked about right to work laws in the States. It should be noted that Cain did add an excellent point to Gingrich's by noting that the NLRB was really nothing more than a "back door" way for the government to regulate business.

Speaking of Cain, that really brings up the next set of debate winners. Just like I noted in my last post, Bachmann and Cain would be largely seen as competing against each other for the same base. At the end of the night, it seems as though the two came in tied for second. To be honest, that should be seen as a good sign for each of them. Dick Morris has noted throughout the night that he believes that Bachmann may have slightly edged Cain. Even so, I believe that the two each had their good moments. Cain scored a big win in discussing how he would reform both Medicare and Social Security. In particular, Cain noted that our commitment to elderly Americans who planned for Social Security can be met while the program is phased out overall. This can be done by allowing younger Americans to have private accounts--while still paying some into the system to support older Americans. Bachmann's greatest moment was her inspiring answer on abortion--noting her own five children and the more than twenty children she and her husband have taken in.

The next two were Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Of course, everyone knows that Ron Paul is largely libertarian. This fact has gotten him in trouble with more mainstream Republicans in the past. Tonight, however, Paul's answers, for the most part, were impressive and on target. He very much clearly identified problems and noted how the government made the problems in the first place. Put differently, more government certainly wasn't the answer--it was what got us there! Mitt Romney, in typical frontrunner fashion, appeared to adequately defend is turf and not stray far from his jobs and economy message. This included him asking why they were even talking about Don't Ask Don't Tell when they should be talking about the economy. That didn't exactly instill confidence in social conservatives.

To discuss Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum at this point is not to say that they didn't do well. Instead, it is exactly as Herman Cain acknowledged--this is a very strong field of GOP candidates. Both Pawlenty and Santorum looked excellent at times. Pawlenty had some excellent answers--especially when he took Vice-President Biden to task for his lack of foreign policy leadership. This is despite the fact that Biden was supposedly well qualified in this area. To me, Santorum's best answer was when he discussed President Obama's lack of foreign policy leadership. As Santorum rightly noted, the president has turned his backs on our friends and has embraced our enemies. That is certainly something that cannot stand!

So, those are my early thoughts on tonight's debate? Don't agree with me--share your thoughts! Also, vote in the poll about who you think won tonight's debate.

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