The Republican primary season debates almost always kick off with a debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. This debate was supposed to be scheduled for early May. However, it was pushed to September, due to the lack of big name candidates that were running at the time. Remember, the first debate only featured five candidates. In this debate, the field featured the eight candidates that the network deemed as being the front runners, or were the Republicans that achieved at least 4% in at least one poll of interest. These candidates, in podium order, included Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Jon Huntsman. Excluded from the debate, as it is common to see them excluded, included Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter, Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger, and any other flea candidate that has little or no recognition. Johnson's exclusion was controversial, given the fact that when he was included, he has polled as high as 3%, sometimes tying or beating Santorum or Huntsman. The other three have generally garnered 1% or less (Karger may have gotten 2% in one poll). However, it comes down to the picking and choosing of those who arrange the event.
Back to the debate itself, the feature included the battle of the governors, Rick Perry (who was making his debate debut) and Mitt Romney, who were arguing over who had the better record while they were governor. Then you throw Jon Huntsman into the mix, and you have yourself a war. With that being said, the candidates did a far better job in this debate than they did in the Iowa Debate. With Tim Pawlenty, who did a poor job giving clear answers at the debates, now out of the race, you now have a field of not only good candidates, but candidates who either stand out or are doing better standing out.
As with all of the debate, I will analyze each of the candidates on how they did at this debate.
Rick Santorum- I still feel that Santorum is a dark horse at best when it comes to the presidency, but he is beginning to stand out more and more. I felt satisfied hearing the answers that he gave to each question and that he gave direct answers to these questions. When it came to immigrating the right way, he gave a story on how his family immigrated from Italy the proper way. Like in the previous debate, he is now beginning to form his position in the race and is now forming his position as the strict social conservative who does not agree with Obamacare, but is opposed to the gold standard (which he stated in the Iowa Debate). B
Newt Gingrich- What I like most about Gingrich is that he tells it like it is. He's straight forward with the people of America and he's especially straight forward with the moderators and the media. Last debate, he told them to knock it off with the "gotcha questions" and "Mickey Mouse games." This debate, he told them that they need to stop pitting the Republicans against each other, when in actuality there should be unity. It is agreed upon that the real target is Obama. Besides that, his answers were clear, especially how he agrees with how Obama was doing a good job with education and allowing parents to choose the schools they want their children to go to. He also admitted he would fire Ben Bernanke as soon as possible. Gingrich was a frontrunner before the race began, but has since lost support. The way he's been debating, he's become a maverick who is showing no nonsense to the media and how they enjoy playing "he said, she said" games while they should be asking questions such as "So you want to be president? What can you bring to the table that will change America?" One of the best one-liners, he's written a foreword for Rick Perry's book... and he likes him enough to keep on writing these forewords. Brutally honest indeed! A
Michele Bachmann- With Perry's entrance into the race, Bachmann seems to have been the most affected. Perry and Romney usually poll on top, while Bachmann has been closer to Ron Paul when it comes to numbers. When saying that she's in the top three with Romney and Perry, it may be unfair at this point, as Paul has polled close to or above her. With that being said, what stuck out the most on her part in the debate was that she did not mention that we're going to make Obama a one-term president. She mentioned it in her first three debates (two of which were televised, the other was on Twitter), and it looks like the streak ended here. Otherwise, her night was a pretty quiet one, though she did clearly mention that we need to create jobs, which we are not at the moment. She also mentioned that she is pushing for gas that's $2 a gallon, which had to be her highlight of the night. Besides that, her spot in the top tier seems to be sliding. Unlike the last two debates, she didn't really shine tonight. B-
Mitt Romney- Romney had a ton of speaking time tonight, along with Perry. However, the both of them have something in common... they have liberal roots. Romney was pro-choice for most of his political career and Romneycare was much similar to Obamacare. Perry was part of the Al Gore campaign for president. With Romney, it was typical politics, though at least he does a good job with standing out as a politician. It feels like 2008 all over again when it comes to Romney, only instead of John McCain and Mike Huckabee, he has Rick Perry at his throat. Another good thing about Romney was that he actually presented solutions, which is something he doesn't do so often. However, most of what he had to say was much similar to how it was before. He's a typical politician, but at least he's better at it than Pawlenty. B-
Rick Perry- Perry was the center of the majority of the mudslinging in the debate. He's the newcomer, becoming the front runner, has a strong economy, is a long tenure as Texas governor (he succeeded George W. Bush and has been the governor ever since), and had liberal roots during with work with Al Gore. However, it wasn't all about who he was fighting with in the debate. Perry also discussed his reasoning behind exercising death sentences and gave an emotional answer that led to applause. I almost thought he was going to break down. Perry has a lot of personality and it will likely serve him well within the upcoming months of the race. Fred Thompson was the last person to enter the race last primary, skipped his first debate, and did little to make a name for himself when in fact he started participating in the debates (despite the fact he had some good one-liners). Perry, on the other hand, came in with strive and is making a name for himself. I see a lot of mudslinging between him and Romney up ahead. B+
Ron Paul- It seems like this wasn't Ron Paul's best night, and not a night that really allowed him to shine. He did have some very strong moments in the debate, such as the exposure of a dime actually being worth $3.50, but how inflation makes the cost cheaper. Another strong moment of his wasn't even during the debate, but before the debate. He showed an ad attacking Rick Perry and his past as someone who was a part of Rick Perry's campaign and how he was one of the four Reagan supporters from when Reagan ran for the Republican nomination back in 1976. However, Perry countered with how Paul left the party and ran as the Libertarian nominee in 1988. Paul mentioned how during the time of Reagan's second term, we had bigger government, something Paul is strongly opposed to. Paul is not the best and clearest speaker, but he sure has ideas that can make a difference, and he acts upon these rights. He just needs to have a standout moment that's going to make him stick out in the media for all of the right reasons. The applause was also pretty spread out in this debate, as in the earlier debates, he had a vast majority of the applause. B-
Herman Cain- Herman Cain is the clearest and most thorough speaker in the Republican field. He speaks so smoothly, seriously, and answers each of the questions directly. The one that stuck out most was his 999 plan when it comes to taxes, which includes a 9% personal income tax, a 9% sales tax, and a 9% corporate tax. This plan would be instated to replace the federal tax. Cain also spoke about his plans on immigration and chimed in on other issues, but this is where he stood out most. It was fortunate for Cain and his campaign that he did a good job in this debate, as oppose to his previous debate in Iowa. His speaking time has also decreased, but then again, Romney and Perry got the overwhelming majority of the speaking time in this debate. Well as it could be said, the less that's said, the less that can come back to bite you in the rear. A clear speaker. A
Jon Huntsman- In the previous debate, I felt Huntsman did himself little to no justice. He seemed like he had no personality and I questioned why he showed up and what he had to bring to the table. In this debate, he stuck out for being as to promote his own resume by making a comparison between himself and Romney and Perry. He especially took advantage of the fact that his states was first when it came to people with jobs, compared to Romney's 47th of the fifty states. Huntsman still has a long way to go if he wants to be a dark horse in the race, but at least he improved from last debate. B-
Well if this was an actual assignment and these were the final grades, all of the candidates made the honor roll, which is the first time since the debates began during the primary season. The ones who stuck out the most were Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, but if I had to pick a winner, it would probably be Newt Gingrich as being the debate winner. I think that Cain was a bit more direct when it came to bringing his plans to the table, but Gingrich seized the opportunity to bring his point across and stick out in the crowd much more. While both candidates are dropping in the polls, they still have a strong stamina to fight in the primaries and succeed at getting the numbers. However, a debate is just a debate, as a poll is just a poll.
The next debate will be the CNN Tea Party Debate, being held this upcoming Monday. This debate is being held by the Tea Party Express for the first time ever and will feature the same eight candidates who participated in this previous debate. I will surely do what I can to tune in, and will then most definitely review it.