WaPo: Bachmann, Romney, Paul Debate Winners

Friday, 12 Aug 2011 08:36 AM

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Reps. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann all ended up winners in last night’s GOP debate in Iowa.

Losers include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza writes in his column The Fix.

“For the second straight debate, the front running former Massachusetts governor coasted — dodging any major attacks from his rivals and focusing almost every answer on jobs, the economy and President Obama,” Cillizza wrote. “Meanwhile, Romney watched while Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty — two of his main rivals for the nomination — savaged one another. Romney and his campaign team couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Paul was at the “center of the conversation for the entire second hour of the debate” and while he is till “outside of the Republican mainstream,” the Texas congressman had one of best forums to air his views.

Bachmann, according to Cillizza, was not as good as she was in the New Hampshire debate in June but still “successfully cast herself as someone willing to stand up on principle on major matters like raising the debt ceiling — a posture that will appeal to not only straw poll voters on Saturday but also Iowa voters next February.”

However, Gingrich was frequently combative even going after the moderator for asking “Mickey Mouse” questions.

“While Gingrich’s combativeness can work at times, it appears to be his default tone. And it’s hard to imagine Gingrich persuading many people by scrapping with the moderators over the content and format of the debate,” Cillizza wrote.

“Santorum needed a moment in this debate in hopes of making a move on Saturday at the straw poll. He never really found one. And, to the extent he had one — on the sanctity of life — it came in the late stages of the debate when lots of people has likely turned in for the night.”

The Fix gave former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty a split decision, “forceful in taking the fight to Bachmann” and using his “nice guy persona” to attack without seeming over the top in the first hour but “Pawlenty disappeared in the second 60 minutes — largely because he didn’t get many questions.”

“But when you need to find ways to change the dynamic of the race, you have to find ways to inject yourself into the conversations and create your own opportunities,” Cizzilla wrote. “And Pawlenty didn’t do that; he felt like an afterthought. Of course, it’s far better to do well in the first half of a debate that starts at 9 pm on the east coast than in the second hour of it when lots of people are in bed.”

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