Last night’s Bloomberg-Washington Post GOP debate was perhaps the best one yet for many reasons. First, it focused on the topic at the forefront of every American’s mind: the economy. Second, it featured an interesting round in which the moderator allowed candidates to ask each other questions.
Most importantly, it showcased the fact that many 2012ers are ready to take on President Obama when it comes to jobs, spending, and the proper role of the federal government.
In general, I was pleased to see a shift from platitudes to specificity and from generalities to solutions. Certain aspects stood out for me.
Although I have repeatedly taken issue with Romney’s inconsistency over the years and his insistence on defending Romneycare via a tribute to federalism, he once again delivered a polished performance. He adeptly criticized Obama’s lack of leadership and offered solutions. Romney is a savvy debater. He has the political skill to walk around questions he doesn’t like with ease and to take control of the topic. The skill can’t be denied. Neither can his defense of TARP.
Gingrich once again illustrated his impressive ability to articulate policy. Despite the fact that I can’t seem to get the image out of mind of him on a couch with Pelosi telling us we need to address climate change, his delivery with respect to topics such as the Federal Reserve and Obamacare was strong. His details will inspire voter confidence, no question.
Bachmann had a solid overall performance and delivered a greater amount of specificity than I had seen in prior debates. Her strongest arguments emerged with respect to repealing Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. She appeared relaxed and didn’t hesitate to bring up Obamacare’s horrific Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Cain took some heat for his 9-9-9 Plan, but held firm on his claim that it is revenue-neutral. Although I can’t quite wrap my head around his defense of Alan Greenspan, his insistence that “Continuing to pivot off the current tax code is not going to boost this economy” helped him to stand apart from the rest. His greatest strength continues to be that you never, ever forget that he’s not a typical politician.
Santorum had a strong night, particularly with respect to his comments about generating job growth in the manufacturing community. He was passionate and engaged, and despite the fact that he wasn’t asked many questions, he pulled no punches — especially with respect to his critique of Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan — and articulated details when he had the chance.
Despite some good points about the need for a balanced budget amendment, references to his experience with balancing budgets, and a strong focus on energy independence, Perry’s delivery just didn’t hit home for me. I need to see more passion, more fire, more of an ability to articulate details. I need him to show us just how much he wants the job.
Ron Paul delivered solid comments with respect to the Federal Reserve and took on Cain’s positive assessment of Greenspan with “Alan Greenspan was a disaster.” Well said. Paul is definitely right about the fact that “The debt is the burden on the economy.” The strength for Paul in this debate was that foreign policy was nowhere to be found.
Huntsman’s most memorable line of the night was that “Washington D.C. is the gas capital of the country.” I tend to agree. I also agree that “We are losing our ability to maintain a competitive marketplace today.” The trouble with Huntsman? I can’t for the life of me believe a word he says.
There were two other quick points of interest. Gingrich threw in a defense of Sarah Palin’s critique of death panels. Perhaps most interestingly, in the midst of candidates asking questions aimed at making each other stumble, Romney delivered a question to Bachmann that could only serve to help her, a question about what she would do to help Americans get back to work. I found that very intriguing.
Although I don’t see a Ronald Reagan in the mix, I do see plenty of executive experience and quite a bit of common sense. That’s a pretty good start to sending Barack Obama packing.
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