October 19, 2011

GOP Post Debate Impressions

I've now had the opportunity to watch the entire debate video.  You have no idea how maddening it was to find that CNN's Adobe Flash powered live streaming would not play on my Touchpad, especially since this was the first debate where the candidates really mixed it up.  Here are my quick impressions on how folks did:

Perry: Clearly, he had to show some more energy and life in this debate and he did manage to do that. That's the positive.  On the down side, he seems to be a bit of a one trick pony in terms of debate strategies. He hit Romney hard with the illegal alien issue and returned to it later in the debate, but I'm unsure what that gets him going forward.  He got it off, but seems to me that's only good for one debate, at best two.  You gotta have something more beyond that.  Perhaps its useful if it serves to drive up Romney's negatives, but I'm actually not sure there is a lot of ground to be made there, since with Romney polling in the 25% range, his negatives seem to be already priced into his standing with the conservative electorate.  He's going to have to do more than remind people that Romney is a squishy conservative, he's gotta show he's got some better ideas.  Verdict: Potentially arrests his slide, but didn't gain any ground or seriously damage Romney.

Romney: It wasn't his smoothest performance.  When challenged, he got a bit manic and stammery, but by and large managed to keep his composure and fire back.  He backed Newt down and made him admit that he supported an individual mandate and managed to rhetorically answer Perry's charges with a nice soft on immigration hit of his own relative to the magnet effect of Perry's in state tuition subsidies for illegal aliens.  There were some displays of chinks in the facade, but he recovered decently and you can bet the next debate in November he's going to be ready for those attacks both defensively and with offensive hits at the ready in response. UPDATE: Erikson at RedState points out a couple of slips I noted too but neglected to mention, namely, Romney saying he didn't get the job done in MA on bringing health care costs down and his not so flattering slip that when he confronted that mowing company about employing illegals, he was seemingly most concerned about how it would look, him being a public official and all. Erikson has another post up today noting the Obamaesque qualities of Mitt. If I was Perry, I'd start playing that card now, though he's got some Bushesque qualities of his own that may turn folks off.  If Romney and Perry start effectively dealing each other body blows, Cain could be the beneficiary with a little game raising on his part. Verdict: Bled a little, showed some chinks that could be exploited, but no real damage to momentum and he can recover.

Cain:  I expected to see some major action come his way on 999, and came it did.  Cain did okay, but I think he lost a bit of the momentum that 999 has given him. You can tell people they don't understand the plan a time or two, but at some point when pressed with specific objections, you should come prepared to back up your assertion that they don't get it.  Cain did some of this, but not nearly enough, for example when Romney challenged him on specifics about what people would pay.  This was Cain's golden opportunity to illuminate the plan for voters and push back on his opponents, but he kept talking apples and oranges.  Cain is a mathematician and has the intellectual chops to engage in an explanatory debate (see this video of him taking on Bill Clinton, wonk extraordinaire in the 80's on health care).  He's got to display that again to make the case on 999.  Its not as simple as he says, and he has not convincingly rebutted the assertions of his opponents that its not hideously regressive.  Cain has also got some Obama type qualities of his own, namely lack of experience in the world of government. Its not the same as business.  He's a decision maker from the business world.  Maybe thats enough, maybe its not.  Either way, he's got to raise his campaign game about 5 notches right now if he wants to maintain top tier candidate status.  Fundraising, organization and get that brain/mouth filter problem fixed to control those negotiate with terrorists gaffes. Verdict: We still predict that Cain will NOT be the nominee and his performance under fire underscores one reason why: he's not doing enough to make the case for the date he brought to the party, 999.

Bachman: She's largely disappeared from relevance in the debate and she is rapidly losing mind share.  The woman is not particularly imaginative and 5 debates in, she should be laying out more clearly what her vision for the country is beyond "Kill Obamacare".  There is a lot more to the gig. While she's consistently hitting her themes, she doesn't sound like she knows more beyond the basic talking points she hits all the time. You can't keep going to that well every debate.  She also blew another hole in her credibility by referencing anchor babies.  Its a nice red meat topic and lends itself well to that audience, but its been looked into and its bunk.

Santorum: Raised his mindshare a bit this time around with a good challenge to Romney about health care and noting that his opponents supported TARP, including the "businessmen" Cain and Romney. Is there more to the guy than just being combative is what I want to know and so far, I have not seen it yet.

Gingrich: Not going to win, appreciate the intellectual gravitas he brings to the stage. People say veep potential, but I'm not sure Newt would take that job.

Ron Paul: Doesn't stand a chance, but is usually coming with interesting comments and its great to see somebody on the stage who seems genuinely passionate in their beliefs, not merely political, even if some of the stuff they go for seems nutty.

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