There were three debates throughout the month, as MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News each had one. The amount of debates doubled throughout the month of September compared to the rest of the primary season. What made this debate stick out was that many of the questions were submitted to viewers via Google or YouTube, and the questions concentrated on what these viewers wanted to know. Like the other FOX News debates, Bret Baier was the moderator. The participants included Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Gary Johnson. That's right, after being excluded from the last four televised debates, Johnson has been invited to his first debate since the very first debate of the primary season back in May, which only had five participants. He reached the 1% requirement that was needed to make it into the debate, which Thaddeus McCotter, Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger did not.
The topics of discussion were of a wide range and I will be analyzing each candidates performance and in the order in which they were standing...
Gary Johnson- While Johnson was finally invited to his first televised debate since May (he was invited to a Twitter debate along with McCotter in July), he did get the least amount of speaking time. He answered his questions clearly, but also went back to how we need to balance the budget in some way or another. He did, however, give very clear answers and very clear remarks that were extremely satisfying. The highlight comment of the night was when he stated that his neighbor's two dogs were creating more jobs than this current administration. This comment may send his dogs into as much celebrity status as Joe the Plumber back in the 2008 Presidential Election between Obama and McCain. I also liked the fact that, like in his YouTube submission in which he answered every question in the debate, he was able to choose the person he wanted as his running mate quickly and without any filler. Being a Libertarian, he chose Ron Paul. This was something all of the candidates, with the exception of Santorum, Cain, and Huntsman after filler, did not answer. For the time he was given and the strong finish, Johnson had a good debate that should boost his campaign. B+
Rick Santorum- Santorum has continued to build on the image of being the jerk in the debates. He puts the pedal to the metal and takes any candidate that doesn't agree with a specific view he's passionate about, corners them, and argues his point until that point is resolved. He did give some productive answers and is doing better in the debates and giving us as the voters a reason as to why he's still in the race, but he starts mud fights. He even got Jon Huntsman riled up in a mud fight with him against the current War On Terror, and it was a battle between a conservative and a moderate. Santorum is a typical candidate with a bit more to offer than we thought, but his performance was pretty much the same as we have been seeing. B-
Newt Gingrich- Gingrich always has an opportunity to deliver those one-liners, whether it be directed toward Obama, a flaw in the candidates records, the media, or what he did while serving in Congress during the Reagan administration. He came out looking like a contender, but he's still just a former Speaker who's laying out the foundation of what we need to do in order for the Republican party to win the election in 2012. It's sort of like Chris Dodd ran on the principle of unity of the Democratic party, submitting strong point of views, and then withdrawing early and being the first major former primary candidate to endorse Barack Obama. If you look at the Republican side of the coin, I could see Gingrich thinking the same way of unity for the party. I could see that Gingrich would be the first to declare his endorsement for the nomination and I could see him faithfully back up the Republican nominee, which is something I can't blame him for doing. While he didn't release as much of a brutal fire, he still gave a strong performance. B+
Ron Paul- Romney and Perry are at the top of the current polls, but Ron Paul is quickly moving up into third place. Paul used the opportunity in this debate to stand by his constitutional liberties and proved how he is a true warrior of remaining constitutional as president. It wasn't a stand out night for him, but he did continue to assert his values and his positions. During the last four debates, Paul was the only Libertarian candidate participating in the debates. With Johnson on the stage and holding similar views, Paul has to be able to keep up with strong performances in order to be the Republican party's choice and hope that the two don't split the vote. However, he has gained the recognition and support of the crowds of people that attend the debate. While more candidates stuck out more than Ron Paul, he still did a good job during the debate. B
Rick Perry- Perry was involved in an on and off mudslinging match with Romney, which was the third such battle. If I had to pick a winner, it wouldn't be Perry. Perry's answers were a bit vague for the time he was given, and it all came down to skeletons that were in the closet. Perry's skeletons and being shown and shown by many of the candidates on his tail, whether it be Romney, Bachmann, Paul, Huntsman, or Santorum. Perry's highlight was when he mentioned the thirty-one-year-old lobbyist with cervical cancer who convinced him to pass the HPV bill. He also mentioned that it would be inhumane to not insure children of illegals. The candidates on the stage are feasting on him far more than they are feasting on Romney when it comes to skeletons, and when it comes to debates, Perry is not holding up to it as he should. C+
Mitt Romney- Romney had his best debate thus far. He expressed what he intends to do very clearly, answered directly, and kept it really cool with Perry. He won the Romney vs. Perry battle of the September 2011 FOX News Google/YouTube Debate by his calm demeanor. Outside of the Perry battle, Romney also took some jabs at President Obama, and how we should refer to him as Former President Obama. Like Perry, Romney was able to attend his mistakes, but with less pity, and more of an "everybody makes mistakes" kind of attitude. Whether or not this debate benefits him in the polls we do not know, but it surely is doing him justice and could help him pick up a good amount of ground. B+
Michele Bachmann- Bachmann is giving some strong points, which makes it unfortunate to see her numbers shrink since Rick Perry entered the race. She's no longer standing behind the platform of making Obama a one-term president and she's standing more to challenging Perry on his HPV bill, but had to deal with the fact that people were putting words into her mouth. She states that she's for allowing workers to keep 100% of what they earn, but it doesn't look like a solution was given as to how this would be done. She has stated she would repeal Obamacare, but that's pretty much just a position, and a position Romney also stands for (as would basically the entire Republican party). Her debate was mild, but nothing was done to make her numbers shrink based on this debate alone. B
Herman Cain- It's pretty difficult to speak against Cain and his debate performances, as they are always clear and direct. He gave his reasoning as to why his "999 Plan" was the best plan for restoring the tax code, he discussed our alliance with Israel and how we will not tolerate seeing our allies being threatened, but his strongest moment was the story he gave as being a colon and liver cancer survivor. His cancer was treated within nine months time with a process that he chose, and not the government. If Obamacare was being practiced, then Cain's chances of living would have dropped. He already had just a 30% chance of living and he beat the odds. He told this story so clear and so passionately that it would make anyone cringe for a moment when they thought about Obamacare. While Cain may not be the popular candidate on the field, he does a very fine job in the debates and he should very well make it into many more leading up to the primary. A-
Jon Huntsman- Since analyzing each of the debates in this primary season, Huntsman has received the worst grade during his poor performance in Iowa. His average is going up, as Pawlenty, who is no longer in the race, is holding the worst grade average of anybody that's participated in a debate. As for Huntsman, he stood firm to his views of a better America and is doing a fine job showing that he has compassion for this country, as oppose to being just a stick in the mud. His highlight moment was when he called out Santorum on his views of staying in Afghanistan, and how he feels that now is the time to bring our troops home. This happened out of the blue, right as the topic of discussion was being shifted to social issues. He also gave his tax plan, which helps build an impression. After the Iowa debate, I thought that once he would begin being excluded from the debates, it would be like nothing happened. At this point, there will be a bit more of a reaction. B+
When it comes to winners and losers, Herman Cain has the best grade for keeping up with a strong performance. However, the debate is also about improvement, who made the mark of having a great debate, and who savored the opportunity. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman had their best debates yet, and showed that they are candidates who have an agenda and are there to go against what Obama has put in. However, if anyone really made an impression, it would be Gary Johnson, whose comment about his neighbor's dogs may really stick in the mind of the voters. He also gave a strong voice into balancing the budget and removing the income tax and having only on a national sales tax. While the grades may say otherwise, it's very tough to determine a true winner.
The next debate will be on a New Hampshire channel called WBIN-TV on October 11th and held in Hanover, New Hampshire. The next debate featured on a main political channel will be a CNN debate held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Details about these debates are to be determined, so we'll just have to see what happens between now and then.