Tony Katz, host of The Tony Katz Radio Show, ranked the candidates in the GOP debate in Las Vegas, NV. Televised on CNN, the debate brought the fight that has been missing from the debates until now. However, as Tony points out, not everyone in the fight wins:
Gingrich and Santorum, and then The Losers
After watching the GOP debate in Las Vegas, only one thing is for sure – Mitt Romney is fallible. Everything else is up in the air. So, here now is my ranking of the winners and losers in this debate. Trust me, I know that half of you will disagree, half of you will agree and the other half will do both. Here it goes:
1 – Newt Gingrich. Now, Michelle Malkin may unfollow me on Twitter after this ranking (I really hope she doesn’t, I’m a huge fan!), but Gingrich’s superior performance in tonight’s debate is undeniable. He kept the focus on Obama. He refused to participate in the in-fighting. He scored points on all the issues – Latinos in the US, nuclear waste, Obamacare. Yes, he took a hit from Romney about his one-time support for an individual mandate – which should be framed in the context of opposing Hillary care in the 90′s – but it won’t be enough to derail his victory. Gingrich took a pro-American stance, sounded like a commander-in-chief, and will have former Perry supporters looking his way.
2 – Rick Santorum. Turns out not taking hits can make you a winner (just look at Romney over the past few debates.) I don’t give Rick a chance to win the primary nomination, but he is one great scrapper! He was consistent on his push for American Exceptionalism and in his belief in G-d and the family. He was also fearless, whether taking on Romney, Cain, Paul, Perry or Bachmann. We are not ranking who will be the nominee, we are ranking who won the debate. Santorum came in second.
3 – Ron Paul. Again, it’s about the debate. And much of this debate continued the theme of the Bloomberg debate. As Ed Morrissey commented via Twitter, “Fascinating — we’re more than an hour in, and we’re still talking about economics after the econ debate.” That worked in Paul’s favor, where his comments on the Fed, government spending, healthcare and even foreign aid were well received by the audience. Unfortunately, Paul pushed memes that don’t connect, and lead people down a path of conspiracy theory – including the calling of America an “empire.” This is Paul’s last shot at the presidency, and he is in it till the end. He will always hit strong on the debate; he will always fall flat on foreign policy.
4 – Tie. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain. It’s not possibly for me to say which one did worse, and each had his moments. Romney proved he can be provoked. He proved that he can get scrappy. He proved that he can get in the Gingrich-esqe zinger (especially when he talked about Perry having a tough time in debates lately.) But he didn’t act like a president. His scolding didn’t come across as leadership. He allowed himself to be dragged into every two-bit schoolyard brawl. He has been masterful at being above the fray. That ended tonight…and ended ugly.
Perry had energy and vitality tonight. He was awake, ready to rumble. He came out swinging. However, if the bar for being successful in a debate is staying awake, the bar hasn’t gotten too far off the floor. Perry did not bring new ideas to America. He reached for his energy plan and then struggled to clearly explain it. His supporters admit he might not be the best debater. This is an understatment; you don’t have to be a great debater to be able to deliver your practiced speech about energy independence in the United States. Perry only gave reasons for his supporters to look at Cain or Gingrich.
As for Cain, he was winning this debate. Yes, he was forced to defend his plan for the first 15 minutes of the debate, but it was HIS plan! Cain was smart, he was aware, he was clear-thinking. The reiteration of his comments on Occupy Wall Street worked well for Cain. It strengthened his base. Then he was asked about negotiating with terrorists, and his words on Gitmo detainees. And as I tweeted during the debate, “Cain gets one foreign policy question, and stumbles….stunning.” Cain needed to be strong on foreign policy to guarantee himself front runner status. Instead, after the debate, he was quoted as saying, “…mea culpa…my bad. Y’all got that? I misspoke. I don’t want to negotiate with terrorists.” And that’s how quickly you go from winning to losing a debate….and perhaps an election.
7 – Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann simply doesn’t want to win. Anyone who wanted to win would not engage the American public the way she does. She had the right answers on the border, on taxation, on American Exceptionalism. Then she did the most unseemly thing possible – she spoke to “moms.” It was like watching a Lifetime movie. I kept looking for Meredith Baxter in the wings, ready to confront Michelle on a long lost love. Bachmann has all of the tools, but none of the instincts for presidential politics. Whatever she accomplished during the debate was mitigated by her shameless pandering to women.