The free flowing format Fox News employed in last night's GOP Presidential Debate was an improvement over CNN's approach in the last debate, although the moderators went overboard in using the candidates words against them in setting up questions.
Newt Gingrich scored well when he challenged that tactic, calling it "gotcha questions". There is little doubt that he has the brightest ideas and the best grasp of the workings of government of all the candidates. Gingrich will never win the GOP nomination due to all of his personal baggage, but there's got to be a role for the man should the Republicans take back the White House in 2012.
Tim Pawlenty tried, and failed, to add a little flavor to the idea that he's too 'vanilla'. And the sparring with Michele Bachmann was awkward and did not help him. It's also a good example of why Sarah Palin would be a tough opponent for Obama to go up against - it's just not that easy for a man to aggressively challenge a woman without coming across as overbearing and crass.
Which is a shame because Pawlenty had a brilliant line in taking a shot at Romney;
“Where is Barack Obama’s plan on social security reform? Medicare reform? Medicaid reform? In fact, I’ll offer a prize tonight to anybody in this auditorium or anyone watching on television, if you can find Barack Obama’s specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner.
Or if you prefer, I’ll come to your house and mow your lawn. But in case Mitt wins, I’m limiting it to one acre. One acre.”
The line of the night, though, was from Rick Santorum directed toward Ron Paul;
"Just because he's mostly wrong doesn't mean he's always wrong."
As for Ron Paul... do you seriously think you have any chance in this race when you stand before the American people on national television and state that Iran has the right to acquire a nuclear weapon? Really?
Some feel Santorum misstated the true intent of the 10th Amendment, but he made a very valid point when said this country is based on moral law and used the example of a state declaring polygamy legal as an overreach of the 10th Amendment. He made another valid point that was overlooked when he accurately pointed out that America cannot solve it's debt problem by cutting spending when we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend and refuse to address entitlements that accounts for the other 60%.
The question asked of Michele Bachmann about whether she would be "submissive to her husband" as President has to be the worst question ever in all the history of presidential debates. It was sexist through and through and the crowd immediately recognized that as they booed heartily. It was also indicative of the unfair burden many female candidates have to deal with.
Jon Huntsman just did not have a good answer to some of the positions he holds other than to repeatedly say "I'm proud of my record." He seemed out of place on that stage.
In summary, there was no real clear winner in last night's debate, although, as the accepted front runner, Mitt Romney did nothing to detract from that status. Gingrich, Santorum and Bachmann were strong. The loser(s) of the night... Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul.
A few other parting designations;
Smartest man in the room - Newt Gingrich
Crankiest man in the room - Ron Paul
Most charismatic man in the room - Herman Cain
Most 'practiced' man in the room - Mitt Romney
Most determined man in the room - Rick Santorum
Eventual Republican presidential nominee - Not In The Room