Let me begin by saying that I was not over whelmed by any of the candidates. That is not to say they came out flat. To the contrary.
The problem I found with the debate was more in the format in which 90 out of 120 minutes of the debate focused on domestic issues.
Republicans missed, in my opinion, a chance to connect to people who they will need in the general election. By that I do not mean pandering, but making some sort of a "I give a darned about you and lead you" sense.
Two specific moments came to my mind. The first was with the person who felt they will be left out by any candidate who connects with the TEA party. Both Cain and Bachmann made attempts, but neither would reach out to the guy. Fail.
The second was concerning distaster funding. Instead of saying yes, we will find money to help and reach out to people effected by natural disasters we got some sort of quasi answer with the imperitive that private industry would help. Wrong.
That isnt to say government does an incredible job at helping those in their most troubled hour. They havent. I simply cannot see private industry doing the job FEMA does - and it is a role I personally believe government should be involved in.
Lastly, every single one of the candidates failed by epic porportions regarding the NASA and manned space flight question.
Obama has tried to the best of his ability to kill off our manned space flight program. While Constellation is not what I would call a dream delivery system, it is in heavy development. To kill it would mean that the United States would have zero access to space (unless buying a ride on Russian Soyez) for at least another decade.
Can private industry develop a launch system? Yes and no.
Private firms are the people who NASA contracts to build the equipment used. However it is still under the guidance and mission of NASA.
Let me put it another way. Would you be cheering if Neil Armstrong was representing General Electric and not the United States?
I would also add that NASA's funding is so minscule that it is embarassing. It isnt as embarassing as the candidates answer on the matter, however.
Regarding winners and losers I would say this: my vote was not persauded in any direction tonight. Period.
Joshua Trevino made an observation tonight noting the real winner was Texas Governor Rick Perry. I would agree.
My candidate by candidate analysis is as follows:
Bachmann: Yes, she did deliver a "strong" message. However she does not deal with a fundamental reason I cannot support her until its her vs Romney or Obama - the ability to govern. She was given multiple chances which she could have reached out to at very least calm fears. Have no doubt she is a fighter - and a good one at that. What we should all have learned, though, is that the President needs to also provide a softer side to pass legislation. Bachmann has none.
Cain: My wife and I both felt the same thing: CNN did not allow Cain to participate in a lot of the discussion. It could be wrongly percieved, but it just felt like when Cain got a question it was from the cold and his attempts to bridge over to talking points didnt fit. Whats more, John King's cheap shot (and putting words into Cains mouth) regarding some sort of a religious litmus test was outrageous. (religious litmus test are illegal last I heard, btw) I liked a lot of his common sense answers. Still.
Gingrinch: Newt definitely scrapped with the best of them. His intellect really shined tonight. He was dead on regarding needing majorities in both houses when it comes to repealing Obamacare. More people should understand the legislative process, I feel, when we go nose to nose with Democrats over the next few months. Im not sure where his candidacy goes from here, but solid performance.
Paul: Extremely good performance given that some of the questions which reveal the more radical side of Dr. Paul were not asked. My guess is that someone just tuning in my identify with a lot of what he mentioned (not picking winners and losers, govt stay out of lives, etc).
Pawlenty: T-Paw had the lowest and highest moment of the debate. The lowest moment was the Obamney care answer. Instead of manning up and confronting Mitt regarding the individual mandate, he whimped out. However, on the right to work answer, Pawlenty rocked. I absolutely was cheering in my seat when he reminded the questioner that the government does not tell people who they should associate themselves with (unions in this case).
Romney: My view: he definitely looked more relaxed and polished than some of the other candidates. It crossed my mind I wouldnt mind see him going nose to nose with Obama on a number of issues (his answer regarding the GM rebuilding was superb). HOWEVER. My wife talked with me extensively after the debate how she felt he side stepped a good number of questions. Just did not feel comfortable with him. I still feel that he is the candidate I will hold my nose to vote for in November. (p.s. Romney campaign - I am still waiting for you to define assault weapon).
Santorum: Solid performance, but I just could not get into his answers.