Leading up to the Ames Straw Poll tomorrow, FOX News held a debate for the Republicans that polled at least a 1% average in specific polls. Moderated by Bret Baier and featuring other moderators such as Chris Wallace, the debate featured Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich. The questions were of a wide range of topics such as the economy, jobs, foreign policy, social issues, education, as well as how others stood on specific issues. This was the first debate in which the Republican nominees began mudslinging one another unlike at previous debates, but there was sure enough mud to sling at Barack Obama, and the candidates took each opportunity they had. Like I have previously, I am going to review my thoughts on how each candidate did...
Rick Santorum- To be quite honest, this was the first debate in which Santorum actually stood out in some way. He wasn't the highlight of the night, but he's become the candidate who was the lowest polled to be allowed in the debate. This means he gets less speaking time, which he often pointed out. He stood out to being a rebel for his causes and standing the conservative ground on his many issues. He stood his ground on social issues and even went after Bachmann on a stance she took about going to states in order to influence their decisions. He also went after Ron Paul on the topic of Iran, which turned out to be a heated battle. Santorum was a maverick at this debate and he did what he needed to in order to get his point across. Even if it meant fighting the moderators for air time. While I still don't think it's going to help him get further, he took the steps to doing what he needed to. B-
Herman Cain- Cain made his mark in the first debate, continued to hold that mark down in his second, and while he wasn't as memorable in this debate, he was still himself. Like always, Cain gave clear answers that were easy to understand and were to the point. He mentioned a good plan to make the tax cuts permanent, he once again mentioned his steps to handling immigration, and he mentioned his other views on various other topics. While he seems to be fading with names like Romney, Bachmann, and Rick Perry, who will soon be joining the race, he still presents himself very well and continues to remain a good opinion for those who want a candidate who's strong points are on the economic end. While he's not so strong with other topics, he's perfectly human and will not be afraid to ask those who are stronger in certain topics. B+
Ron Paul- Ron Paul continues to be the contrast of the majority of the party. In this debate, he held up well and continued to receive the most applause for his answers. He stood by his views well, despite being placed on the spot many of times, and held his own against Rick Santorum in a heated debate against Iran. While the two were topping one another, Paul got the last word in what was probably the most aggressive I have ever seen him. He continues to back his support up with how we need to follow the constitution and continue our campaign for liberty, as that's his signature stance, like many others have theirs. While he's not the clearest speaker, his views come up very clear and satisfying. B+
Mitt Romney- Romney is the frontrunner candidate, thus he's going to get the most heat. Many of his questions had to do with that kind of heat. Whether it be for Romneycare or any of his other liberal leaning stances, he was placed on the spot. It seemed like he began to shift to his typical politician stance, as it seems like these are just old times again. He didn't necessarily stick out in a heated debate like Bachmann and Pawlenty did, but he is sure the one that has the most dirt on his hands for having liberal positions. At least he didn't crash and burn to the point there were flames in the building. C+
Michele Bachmann- Bachmann stuck out once again. She made her mark in the CNN Debate and now held her own in this debate. She had to battle Pawlenty on a war of words on certain issues (and in my mind, she won), she defended her stance in voting against raising the debt ceiling, and she gave a heartfelt defense on how she respects her husband. She also mentioned, which I heard her mention pretty much every time I heard her speak, that Obama will be a one-term president. She goes for the big lines and whenever she finds them, she says them. She's making a name for herself, whether in a good way or a bad way. Much like Sarah Palin, though I find Bachmann to be a better speaker. She took the right jabs at Pawlenty and she made the statements she needed to. B+
Tim Pawlenty- Pawlenty was out on the attack tonight. It began when the moderators arranged a question for both of the Minnesotans. Bachmann went after his vote on cap and trade, as Pawlenty went after her failure to push for a raise in the debt ceiling. It wasn't a very good excuse on Pawlenty's end to simply attack her on the inability to pass the bill. When he wasn't attacking Bachmann, he was attacking Obama. One of his memorable lines was that if anybody could find Obama's views on issues such as Social Security, he would come to their house and cook them dinner. He backed that up with an option of mowing their lawn. Then, on a question about a previous statement of Bachmann's migraines being a problem for her leading the country, Pawlenty said the real problem was the migraines Obama was causing on the American people. His attacks didn't really help him progress on issues and he lost the battle of the Minnesotans against Bachmann in the mudslinging match in the first part of the debate. He may also struggle in the Ames Straw Poll, which may affect him in the long run. Still, he had some memorable one-liners. C
Jon Huntsman- In Huntsman's first debate, he did not that the opportunity to benefit his campaign. He didn't stand out for any particular reason and spoke around some important questions. His answers to his support of civil unions and how he sent jobs overseas during his time as Utah Governor were very vague and I came out without any kind of impression. All I know is his record and that he served his country as the U.S. Ambassador to China. I commend him for his bipartisan service, but he really didn't stick out in the debate whatsoever. He just showed up and didn't directly answer the questions. While many candidates don't directly answer questions, we didn't come out knowing his clear stance on the issues. D+
Newt Gingrich- Gingrich was brutal in the debate. He had multiple stand out moments that really stuck out. First, he confronted Chris Wallace on asking too many "gotcha questions" when the questions should be far more important, saying that this was "Mickey Mouse" (which obviously means something else). He then blasted the super committee and blasted their general purpose. I also felt that he gave a strong final statement when he reminded us that the election is in fifteen months and that we need to urge our representatives to go head-on against the issues today, such as Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. Gingrich tends to use a lot of past events (a lot of which have to do with Ronald Reagan, a conversative icon) to support his answers. While he didn't get as much time, he explained what he needed to. B+
This debate seemed to accomplish more on the mudslinging and record defending end than it did on key issues. Picking a winner would be tough, but I feel that Herman Cain discusses his views with giving the least amount of filler, Michele Bachmann did a great job standing her ground, Ron Paul continues to hold a good ground on many heated stances, and Newt Gingrich showed the most common sense. There will be more debates in September, which include one at the Reagan Library, another by CNN, as well as another by FOX News. With Rick Perry entering the race soon, things should become heated. The Iowa Straw Polls may also hold some form of impact as the race continues.