Who had the sun tanning booth concession Wednesday night? The candidates were simply glowing. On a more serious note, why would Republicans want to conduct a debate hosted by the left-wing MSNBC? Going in, I had high hopes for a breakout effort from Rick Perry, but did not expect to get it. I did not expect and did not get a breakout effort from Mitt Romney, a candidate whom, at this point, the tea party cannot support. As for the rest of the field, it appears that none has more than an outside chance of the nomination.
At the debate’s conclusion, Newt Gingrich stood well above the field in terms of a combination of knowledge, presentation and seasoning—not surprising for Gingrich. Knowledge and a sound delivery have never been Gingrich’s problem. My issue with Gingrich is his lockstep embracement of the military/industrial complex and nation building. Although Mitt Romney did nothing to hurt himself, he did not give tea party stalwarts much reason for enthusiasm. It will be a shame if the Republican Party ends up with a candidate who will be in the worst position of all to attack the Obamacare beast.
Rick Perry got knocked for his position on social security, calling it a Ponzi scheme. His thinking here, of course, is not to scare off senior citizens. And Perry is correct. SS is indeed a Ponzi scheme of income redistribution, and there is no fund. Given the current makeup of the system, it will fail. Perry need not back away from the truth. Rather, he needs to smooth out his delivery and explain to older Americans that they will not lose their benefits under a Perry watch. This goal can be achieved and turned into a winning hand for Governor Perry to play.
I did not expect a big night from Michelle Bachmann, a candidate whom I admire, but Bachmann gave more than expected. She was well prepared and crisp in her presentation and certainly did nothing to hurt herself. On paper, Ron Paul is a winner. I have read his books over and over and support most of Dr. Paul’s positions. Ron Paul is to be admired for the hard-line stance he has taken in support of America’s Constitution, liberty and a Jeffersonian position on foreign policy non-intervention. Unfortunately, public debating does not put Dr. Paul in the best light. Wednesday’s performance is unlikely to expand Paul’s base of voter support. Herman Cain’s heart is in the right place, and his ideas most often make good sense. He is a solid citizen with a great background. I wish Herman Cain were better positioned than he is, but such is not the case. Mr. Cain fared well Tuesday night, but like Dr. Paul, probably did not expand his base. Rick Santorum had a good night, and his supporters must be pleased. But here again, Mr. Santorum made little headway in terms of expanding his base. John Huntsman had some good things to say, but it’s hard to warm to him. An undercurrent of smugness serves to unglue what may well be a solid foundation.
At the end of the night, the field did well. Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry appear to continue to lead. What is yet not forthcoming is a delivery capable of driving a knockout punch to President Obama, the most destructive president in my lifetime. Newt Gingrich can certainly deliver such a punch, but it’s doubtful that he will be given the chance.