GOP Iowa Debate

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If you were busy last night attending say, the Davis School District “Truth in Taxation” hearing, or watching an NFL preseason game, you missed some great political theater. In the GOP presidential debate leading up to this weekend’s “straw poll” most candidates had to fight for a top spot, while Mitt Romney just had to not hurt himself.

In the two-hour long debate, Romney stayed focused on Obama and the economy, while most of the other candidates started the winnowing process by going after each other. The top brawlers were Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Governor Tim Pawlenty, both from Minnesota. Pawlenty drew first blood by going after Bachmann’s record (or lack thereof) saying: “It is an indisputable fact that in Congress her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent,” followed by “If that’s your record of results, please stop, because you’re killing us.” She fired right back, taking aim at his time as Governor, saying: “I would say governor, when you were governor in Minnesota you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandates and called for requiring all people in our state to purchase health insurance that the government would mandate. Third, you said the era of small government was over,” then finished with the ultimate insult: “That sounds more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.” Pawlenty also took swipes at Romney, but Romney deflected well.

Tim Pawlenty has been pouring a ton of money and effort into Iowa, knowing that if he does not do well in the straw poll, his campaign is likely over. I don’t think last night’s performance helped at all – I think it hurt. He’s the second one voted off the island.

Michele Bachmann did OK. She was able to fire back at Pawlenty and answered the stupidest question of the night with aplomb. Bryon York asked, with a straight face, if she would “be submissive” to her husband as she made decision as POTUS. The audience booed while Bachmann smiled and said, “Thank you for that question, Byron. What submission means to me—if that’s what your question is—it means respect.”

Newt Gingrich did surprisingly well – or maybe it’s not so surprising, since he’s been around the block a time or two. He landed the best – and only – blow on the debt “super committee.” He called it “about as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime.” He went on to say “They’re going to walk in just before Thanksgiving and say, ‘All right, we can shoot you in the head or cut off your right leg, which do you prefer?'” He also took on the media directly several times, a move that was very popular with the audience. But, Newt Gingrich just has too much baggage to be taken seriously as a candidate.

Ron Paul got both cheers and jeers. He does very well answering questions about the Federal Reserve, as might be expected. His foreign policy views are, um, outside the mainstream, as he is OK with Iran developing nuclear weapons. What’s up with that? He certainly does bring some interesting perspectives to the debate. He also could not finish a single answer within the time allotted. And finally, an interesting tidbit. He is the same age as Senator Orrin Hatch and was originally elected the very same year – 1976. Hmm.

Rick Santorum – wow. Didn’t know much about him going in, very unimpressed by him at the end of the night. It seems like he is trying to out-conservative Michele Bachmann. Is that even possible? He got very little air time and what time he did get, he used it to attack other Republican candidates. He’s the first one getting voted off the island.

Hermann Cain – nice guy, but not ready for prime time. He had to explain previous statements and subsequent apologies by saying he just wasn’t up on the issues but he was learning. We’ve had someone learning “on the job” since 2008. I don’t think we’re ready for another one.

Jon Hunstman – He talked about his experience with China and pointed out that it would be nice to have a president who actually KNEW something about that country. He went after No Child Left Behind, touted Utah’s #1 biz ranking and said Utah was the #1 job creator under his leadership. (Texas fans disagree, btw.) But, he also said he was FOR civil unions, that we needed more equality in this nation and then supported the idea of compromise, ala Boehner. He is definitely defining himself as the moderate candidate in this race. Observers wondered, however, if he was truly ill, or had a bad case of nerves, since he spent most of the night looking like he wanted to throw up.

Mitt Romney stayed above the intra-party fray, ignoring Pawlenty’s jab at his wealth, and responding to his attack on Obmaneycare by quoting the 10th Amendment. He brought every point home to Obama’s failure to lead and him being in over his head. Most sources not run or promoted by the candidates themselves call Romney the winner of this debate. And while his name will be on the straw poll ballot, he has decided to skip the straw poll festivities.

Missing from Thursday’s debate were Thad McCotter, who held his own online debate, and Governor Rick Perry, who is announcing his bid for President at tomorrow’s RedState gathering.

FoxNews described the outcome of the debate in terms of upgrades and downgrades, while the Washington Post went for straight-up winners and losers. Closer to home, blogger, attorney and YR chair Dan Burton gives us his evaluation. There are thousands of other articles for your reading pleasure and of course if you missed the debate, you can find it online in its entirety.

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4 Responses to “GOP Iowa Debate”

  1. Daniel B. Says:

    Thanks for the props, Holly. And yes, Rick is the first man Donald would fire…assuming Donald doesn’t get back in the race himself.

  2. Sue Connor Says:

    If these are the smartest, most educated, accomplished, economically intelligent and politically savvy people the republicans can put forward for the presidential campaign we are all in terrible trouble!

    Some have little or no experience, some have such complicated life issues (family, finances) that they won’t survive the press to make it to the office, and lastly, some are running a religious campaign for high holy priesthood of the Christian right in our country – not the same as president of the secular executive branch of our government.

    Our nation in crisis can’t find a more qualified leader than these folks? And yet they want to get rid of Obama! Find someone smarter, better if you want to succeed!

  3. JJL9 Says:

    Sue, none of your comments would apply to Ron Paul. I think we have our answer.

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