This weekend’s GOP debates were pretty standard—lots of pre-rehearsed talking points, a medley of absurd questions from liberal moderators, and some mudslinging here and there.
First off, Rick Perry had his best two debates by far. He was focused, prepared, confident, willing to talk tough, and unapologetic about distinguishing himself from some of the compromisers on stage. It’s a shame this side of Perry wasn’t evident in the debates from the start. Whether or not GOP voters will be willing to give Perry a second chance now that he has proven himself in a debate setting remains to be seen. South Carolina will speak volumes.
Huntsman’s delivery continues to be problematic. There’s an arrogance and condescension that never takes a day off. Combine that with an underlying need he appears to have to be politically correct and to embrace compromise at all costs, and it’s a consistent turnoff. The more he talks about trust, the more I’m reminded of how little I trust him.
Ron Paul was Ron Paul. He’s fantastic on constitutional principles and fiscal policy, but foreign policy gets him every time. We simply live in too dangerous a world for Paul’s vision to make sense. However, I have to admit that his willingness to stand by that vision is impressive, despite the fact that he knows it’s unpopular with so much of the GOP base. I think Paul genuinely believes what he says he believes, and that should count for something.
Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney had strong overall performances. Santorum was excellent on Iran, but didn’t do such a great job of responding to Paul’s labeling of him as a big-government Republican. Gingrich and Romney continue to be articulate on policy, but need to stop wasting the viewers’ time with complaints of how one’s ads were unfair and other’s rhetoric was unkind. Barack Obama and the leftist machine won’t be fair or kind. Get used to it, learn to counter it or move on, stop complaining about it, and focus on showing us why you’re the right man for the biggest job in the country.
I think Romney did what he needed to do to sustain his lead, particularly in New Hampshire. No one did a good job of going after Romney, and it appears that the other candidates have an easy time calling themselves the anti-Romney, but not such an easy time holding Romney accountable in a way that resonates with GOP voters, showcases themselves well, and detracts from Romney’s consistent—albeit somewhat fixed—popularity. Romney has very big weaknesses, but it’s his strengths that repeatedly shine in these debates.
Although there are more debates than many of us can believe, the good news is that our candidates are getting sharper and sharper with each one. Unlike many who would prefer that GOP candidates sit out debates with liberal moderators who aim to trick them, I feel quite the opposite. What better preparation is there for facing Barack Obama and the enormous liberal machine that will be backing him than your standard liberal primary moderator?
I want our candidate of choice polished and ready to go by the time he has to step on stage with Obama. And if liberal moderators and their absurd questions can help us work out the kinks now, then I hope they’ll continue to give it their best shot.
Survival of the fittest, my friends.