Last night's debate, hosted by Anderson Cooper, demonstrated the opposite of what the Bloomberg Debate hosted by Charlie Rose had some what of an intention of doing. This was far from being a dinner table discussion, it was more of a family argument. Seven of the candidates for the Republican nomination participated in the debate: Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann. Jon Huntsman chose not to participate in the debate in order to concentrate on New Hampshire. He was also boycotting the fact that Nevada moved up the date of the Nevada Caucuses, which he strongly disagreed with. This in itself was a very bold move, especially since his poll numbers are toward the bottom.
As always, I will be grading the candidates performances in the debate and evaluating how each of them did when it came to debating the issues that were important to America.
Rick Santorum- This was Santorum's strongest showing yet. I have mentioned on many occasions that Santorum is an aggressive candidate who argues his views and makes it heard in the event he disagrees with what another candidate believes. In the debate, he took it to the extreme. This was most noticeable when he went after Romney. While he has the support the size of a Chihuahua, he has the aggression of a Rottweiler. This was clearly most visible when the polls were shown with Romney having the best numbers and Santorum coming in with numbers as low as 1%. Santorum fought this off by using his experience in being liberal candidates in the swing state of Pennsylvania sticking to his conservative views. He then mentioned that Romney ran as a liberal candidate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy and lost. Connecting the pieces, he feels that he's the candidate more consistent with his views. It was also nice to see how he used his opening statement to wish his three-year-old daughter a good recovery after having surgery. As for his performance, he came out and really stuck out. B+
Ron Paul- Ron Paul is the candidate for liberty and the second opinion to the field of candidates. He stuck to that position and stuck out with his bold ideas. His intentions are to get rid of the federal income tax and replace it with nothing. This reminds me of an article in which we can't just fiddle around with the tax code, but abolish it and replace it with absolutely nothing. He informed us that the problems we are dealing with come from several bills that could be traced back farther than most of us trace them back to, he mentioned that there is a lot to be angry at, not just Wall Street, but also the Federal Reserve. He also promised that he will introduce a balanced budget when he becomes president. He gave a voice of reason and it may very well strengthen his potential and numbers going in to the primaries. A-
Herman Cain- Now that he's tying for the lead with Romney and sometimes even surpassing him as being the leader of the pack, Cain and his 9-9-9 plan are now on the hot seat. While he did have a fairly decent debate, it was not as strong as his other performances. The loopholes to his plan are finally coming out, and the candidates are sticking their fingers into these loopholes and stretching them out even more in order to give their take on the issue. The part that is most challenged is the 9% sales tax, which would mean states that don't pay a sales tax would be hit with one and states that already have a sales tax will have the pay that sales tax plus the 9%. Cain used an apples and oranges analogy in which he would eliminate the invisible taxes and replace it with one visible tax. The candidates demonstrated it best, and that is how new taxes aren't going to solve the problems. Cain closed off by saying how we should add the numbers up ourselves. He still did a fine job standing by his plans. B+
Mitt Romney- Romney was placed on the hot seat as well, and much more so than Herman Cain. The only thing Cain was attacked for was 9-9-9. Romney, on the other hand, was attacked for his liberal views and also his hypocritical views on immigration. Like Rudy Giuliani did back in 2008, Rick Perry attacked Romney on his views on illegal immigration and how he not only supported those coming to this country in that kind of fashion, but also how they were given jobs. Romney kept up with the tension, though, and had a fairly strong performance. His big attack came when he asked Herman Cain about adding a 9% national sales tax on top of the state tax that many of states already have. With people paying a sales tax of at least 9% and some close to 20% among others, it may have placed a target on Herman Cain's back. That was Romney's biggest hallmark. B+
Rick Perry- While people may disagree, Perry seemed to have a good debate performance. He brought up some important points and made a memorable attack on Romney. While he continues to get attacked for his support of Al Gore's campaign and has yet to lay out his economic plan, he was the one that targeted Romney on his immigration views. He also mentioned that we need to stop offering financial aid to other countries when we are the ones that need the help and how we should consider stepping down from the United Nations. While we are part of the foundation, we are also the work horses that always provide for the remaining members. While he improved, there is much more he needs to do. B-
Newt Gingrich- Gingrich had a few standout moments that included his opening statement. However, he seems to be the guy who doesn't feel the feelings of tension should be among those within the party, but instead toward President Obama. He brought up some key points, but he didn't have as many one-liners or standout statements like he did in many of debates before. His standout statement was how he hopes to turn the food stamps into paychecks. Besides that, it was mainly a spot among the sidelines for Gingrich. B
Michele Bachmann- Bachmann was all over the place in this debate. She started out by saying how she hopes what happens in Vegas tonight doesn't stay in Vegas and then was on the attack with how Cain's 9-9-9 plan is only going to give Congress another pipeline to add on to the taxes that he's implementing and that instead of concentrating on taxes, we need to concentrate on jobs. She gave a good vibe and confidence on the direction this country is going in to and what she plans to do when she becomes president. She had a strong debate performance tonight, but whether or not this will benefit her numbers is a question that could only be answered by the polls and number of votes. A-
Based on previous performances, Michele Bachmann seemed to have the most productive performance during the debate. Ron Paul still demonstrates how he remains the best second option in the race for the presidency. As for the debate in general, it was a fiasco that was happening in front of our very eyes and it's only going to get more and more wild.
The next debate will not be until next month, which means this may be the last debate for some of the contenders. This will all come down to numbers, money, and whether or not candidates believe they have a realistic chance at claiming the nomination. Getting on many of the early ballots also has to be done by the end of this month or the beginning of next month, depending on the state. If support within their main state of focus happens to drastically drop, then candidates may very well look into withdrawing from the race. You have Romney and Cain who will probably make up the top-tier, Perry will stick around if he is able to win Iowa or South Carolina or come out with a strong showing in one or the other, and Paul will stick around regardless. As for the others, Bachmann and Santorum are probably looking at Iowa and would need to win in the Iowa Caucus in order to stick around. Gingrich and Huntsman are looking at New Hampshire, which will be their only chance. The same goes for Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer. Gingrich may drop out before the primaries if things take a turn for the worse and Huntsman will probably have no choice but to drop out if he doesn't win the state (which he probably won't) or come out with a really strong showing.
The numbers could do just about anything between now and the next debate. We'll just have to see.