Everyone this morning is talking about how good the Republican debate was last night. It was a good debate and had several memorable moments. Here is my take of what happened and who came out on top.
1) Newt Gingrich clearly won the debate. He probably has won all the debates though so that is not new. But he seemed to win this one by the largest margin yet. At one moment his answer even got a standing ovation from the audience. That was the first time we have seen that in all these events to date. Newt said he wants to teach young people how to get a job and then ultimately how to 'own' the job.
Gingrich stood strong on the work ethic and what makes America great. Probably the biggest positive thing that he did was make everyone realize what they like about Newt and how great it would be to have him taking it to Obama in the debates next fall. Newt is an idea guy. It would be nice to have a Republican in the White House that the Democrats can't say is dumb for a change!
There is not an endorsement but there is no one else in the race who knows how Washington works and potentially has the ability to get things done there as well as he does. Some say that is a bad thing but if Newt truly does what he says in his 21st Century Contract With America we would be taking a big step towards restoring the country to what it should be. No one can speak as in depth about the issues as Newt can.
2) Mitt Romney did a 'capable' job which is what he always does. Did he inspire anyone? Not really. He never does for some reason. He seems to come off like a "Ken doll' and that may be the problem. On the other hand his real problem with conservatives (not RINO's) may be his record as MA Governor. Despite what you hear from some there was really nothing conservative about his MA record and that fact makes it hard for a true conservative to support him.
Romney got booed when he came out in full support last night of Obama's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He stated that just as he is "sure" President Obama will not abuse the provisions in that bill about detaining American citizens without charging them with anything he would not abuse that power either. Hmmm, really? Romney stated that 'the people' elect people to represent them and then they 'trust' those people not to abuse the power they have been given. Really? We (the American people) don't blindly trust anyone. We believe in what Reagan said, "Trust but Verify". NDAA is a scary bill and should not be taken lightly. Does anyone know where Newt stands on this bill?
Romney also gave an answer about gun control that left many 2nd Amendment supporters yelling at their TV screens. He said that while he did not support any 'new' gun laws we should actively enforce the ones on the books now. His big claim to showing his support of gun rights was a bill he championed as the Governor of MA which according to Mitt was a good compromise between guns rights advocates and people who oppose gun rights. He highlighted that the bill actually had a provision that "allowed hunters to cross roads with a rifle". Wow! Really? That is his idea of supporting gun rights? Geez, he sounds like he supports the UN position on this subject.
He also told us about how he likes to hunt every now and then, but he is not an active hunter. So Mitt showed his hand on the 2nd Amendment with his words that gun rights are a 'compromise' and not a certainty. This was a huge moment if you are a gun rights supporter. Mitt sounds like he is one of those that say it is OK to have a rifle for hunting but not much else. The 2nd Amendment is not a comprise with gun rights opponents. It is black and white with no gray. American citizens have the right to bear arms and that cannot be infringed upon. Period. Romney raised taxes on guns in MA by a huge amount while Governor.
Of course, the media folks say Romney did fine and nothing that took place last night will change his status as the front runner. I don't fully agree with that spin.
3) Rick Santorum started out fast attacking Romney and actually getting him to fall into a trap about one of Romney's SuperPac ads claiming Santorum thinks Felons (in jail) should be able to vote. Santorum says he thinks once you complete your sentence and are not on parole or probation anymore then you should be able to vote again. He flat out asked Romney to state his position on that and after a couple awkward moments Mitt said he did not support that idea. I tend to think that most conservatives do not support the right of former felons to vote again but would like to hear your thoughts on that subject. It seemed like Santorum's trap may have ended up making Romney look better to conservatives on that topic.
Rick seemed to slow down some after that opening battle and it pretty much seemed like Newt stole the show after the first 30 minutes of the debate.
4) Governor Perry was sharp giving his best debate performance by far. The question is will it be too little too late to help him? He made some excellent points including that based on Freddie and Fannie the Federal Government should not be involved in housing at all. He got loud positive response from the audience several times but if he does not win SC (which he won't) will he drop out of the race? Perry hinted around this week that he will decide after Saturday if he stays in or not. Well, that is not a good thing to say! How many people in South Carolina will vote for a guy if they are not sure he will be in the race next week?
Perry is too far behind in the polls to win SC. His best hope is 3rd but is that even realistic when you consider Ron Paul has a solid base of supporters? Probably the best he can hope for would be to beat out Santorum but that will even be tough. I hope he does well though.
5) Ron Paul really just needs to talk about the economy and his stances on that subject. He does great on economics issues but when it goes to foreign policy he loses a lot of people. In fact, he loses the majority of people! Sure, there are many that support his views but not enough to get him anywhere near winning the nomination. Yes, yes, despite what Ron Paul supporters say.
An excellent point he made was when he reminded people that up until 1913 there was no income tax and that he wants us to go back to "0%" on income tax which would be great. He did not give a real clear positive answer though when challenged by Rick Santorum about gun rights. Ron Paul has such a strong base of supporters he will probably do well in SC.
6) Glad to see Huntsman out of the race. The best part about Huntsman was he rides dirt bikes like I do!
The bottom line is if someone does not beat Mitt Romney in South Carolina it looks like there is no stopping him. Right now with Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry all doing well in the debate they will split the conservative vote which helps Mitt Romney win again. Ron Paul will get his share of votes and that helps Romney also. He won't need that much to win just like in Iowa.
I think Newt did well enough to cement a second place showing in SC but he really needs a win. There is another debate Thursday evening on CNN. If any one is going to beat Romney in SC they need to score more hits on him then. It looks like Gingrich is the only one within range of stopping the Romney momentum at this point unless Perry pulls out some kind of miracle.