I should start off by recognizing that I did not watch the CBS Debate this past Saturday due to being occupied with another task, but heard that the debate did not live up to certain standards. I did, however, catch this debate and it seems like Wolf Blitzer and CNN brought the flow of debating back on the right track. This being after the mishandling of the CNBC Debate. I believe that CNN and moderators like Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper tend to do the best job moderating, even moderators like Brian Williams on MSNBC tend to be as unbiased as possible.
The debate was held in Washington D.C. and featured the eight top tier candidates. In standing order, these candidates were Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman. The key topic had to do with national security, which included everything from illegal immigration to thoughts on the TSA and the Patriot Act to affairs with countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and our alliance with Israel.
As always, I will grade the candidates as to how well they did with their performance in the debate...
Rick Santorum- Santorum did not have as much to contribute in this debate, as he has had enough time to contribute in other previous debates. More than his percentage usually allows him to. As usual, he pointed out that his relatives immigrated to this country from Italy in the proper way and that we are not fighting a war on terror, but instead, on radical Islam. Not fighting a war on terror meant that he agreed with Ron Paul on something, as Ron Paul tends to disagree with just about all of the Republican candidates with regards to foreign affairs. However, this only goes as far as the title and not the belief. Coming out of this debate, Santorum did not really affect his place in the race, but didn't support it so much either. B
Ron Paul- Ron Paul was most definitely able to shine in this debate. Paul is known for being the most aggressive Republican candidate on the field when it comes to being vocal against our presence in the Middle East. In the CBS debate, he had just ninety seconds of speaking time. In this debate, he had ninety seconds within the first part of the debate. Given that he disagreed with Newt Gingrich in regards to the Patriot Act, saying that it is "unpatriotic." Him and Gingrich fought over Timothy McVeigh, and how we need to handle these kinds of problems. Paul also stated that terrorism is not a person, but a tactic, which means we cannot rid ourselves of terrorism like it's a person. He also reminded us that the Taliban murders occurred on their land, not ours. Paul had himself a really strong night and showed that he means business, especially when it comes to foreign policy. He stands his ground, no matter who the candidate is that's trying to push him off that ground. A
Rick Perry- Perry had a huge flub in the CNBC debate when he was unable to remember certain points. Since then, his support has slipped. However, his seemed to have recovered from his previous performance. Given his position as Governor of Texas, he was able to be hands on with his approach to handling illegal immigration. Other than that, he is no longer being treated as a front-runner like he was back in September. There isn't much of a foil between him and Romney any longer. Then again, Romney isn't having much of a foil any longer. Perry's performance somewhat improved, especially with his final statement about China, but it doesn't mean his campaign will impact. B-
Mitt Romney- Romney has consistently polled within the 20% range and is deemed as being the most electable in this field of candidates. However, several people want to find an alternate and are having a hard time doing so. Romney has been firm on his support for the Patriot Act, his thoughts about foreign policy, and his thoughts on the other fields of National Security. His key moment was when him and Huntsman got into an argument that stalled anyone else's chances at getting in to the debate. He's sitting pretty at the front of the pack and acting like he's ready to take the nomination and the one-on-one against Barack Obama. All he needs to do now is win in the primaries. His debate performance didn't express much difference. B
Herman Cain- Cain didn't have a lot to contribute tonight, as national security is not Cain's strong-suit. Cain is a businessman and has a lot to contribute when the topic of interest is business. That doesn't happen to be the case when the topic of interest is national security. He did give his three levels of action in regards to illegal immigration and he has stated that he would refer to those who know more about foreign affairs when it comes to handling foreign affairs. This shows a side of honesty on Cain's end. This was not a night for Cain to shine and stir waves among the candidates. Cain's numbers have been slipping after being boosted just recently, being the third person to share a boost factor with Romney that Bachmann and Perry once had, and is now being held by Gingrich. B
Newt Gingrich- Gingrich and his performance in the debate held much of an impact. He is now being treated as a front-runner for this portion of the race. He kicked off the debate by expressing support for the Patriot Act and stopping acts of terror before they even happen. This happened to cause him to get into a foil with Ron Paul and how Timothy McVeigh caused havoc to several people. Gingrich was caught under fire on many occasions, especially with his ultra aggression on the topic of illegal immigration. Gingrich is an aggressive candidate and will most definitely be a president that stands firm ground. It wasn't necessarily a night for him to really stick it to those who needed it stuck to, but that was because the moderating was actually good in this debate, so that offsets things on that end. While Gingrich could have been considered controversial, he spoke his mind and was brutally honest. It could have made some difference, but this is a debate and a debate is where you speak your views and answer what's asked. B+
Michele Bachmann- Bachmann is not a heavy contributor on foreign policy, but did provide foil to Gingrich and his views on national security, mainly when he went off on his thoughts about illegal immigration. Bachmann's debate performance didn't provide any difference as to how her campaign is going to turn out as the debate ends. Ultimately, it's going to be do well in Iowa (with a top four finish) or withdraw from the race. That will likely be her mantra. Otherwise, her and the rest of the candidates will be sticking around for Iowa and New Hampshire at the very least. B
Jon Huntsman- This was a night that Huntsman had the opportunity to shine and he savored the opportunity perfectly. Huntsman was the U.S. Ambassador of China from 2009-2011 and resigned from his position to instead run for president. He expressed how China is a threat to our country and how we need to stop taking care of things over in certain countries when the country we really need to be taking care of is ourselves. He also expressed how we need to withdraw 85-90% of the troops in Afghanistan, only leaving a few to make sure things remain in line. Huntsman got back on track in this debate and showed his area of expertise when it comes to foreign policy and issues of that caliber. Having lived in Asia, he does have hands on experience. He brought a lot to the table and foiled with Romney on these views in what was a good debate performance. A
This debate came down to who knew the most about national security and who was able to contribute the most ideas in that category. Paul and Huntsman had really strong performances, as Gingrich also did a good job standing his ground. The other candidates simply did a fine job, but nothing spectacular.
This debate was indeed a fine debate with good moderation and direct answers as to how things should and would be handled. The next debates will be held in Iowa, as the candidates prepare for the Iowa Caucuses. This should really deliver some from of impact to candidates like Bachmann, Cain, Perry, and Santorum. While Cain and Perry may be able to remain until South Carolina, Iowa will be the decider for Bachmann and Santorum (mainly Bachmann, as Santorum will likely receive under 5% in each state) and decide their worth in the race. We'll just have to see how things pan out as the primaries heat up.