1). Republicans Have No Clue- The cluelessness started early on as when the GOP nomination battle leaders were asked how they would fix the economy. Herman Cain gave us his 9/9/9 plan. Mitt Romney promised that he can fix the country through, “leadership,” and Rick Perry channeled Sarah Palin and touted drill baby, drill. Later in the debate Mitt Romney said that he would lower the deficit, but he also promised not to raise taxes or cut defense. In other words, A Mitt Romney presidency = goodbye Social Security and Medicare.
2). Michele Bachmann Blames The Federal Government Not Wall Street For Crashing The Economy – Michele Bachmann showed everybody the difference between the two political parties when she refused to blame Wall Street for crashing the economy. Instead blame was placed on the federal government, which she claimed pushed sub prime mortgages and forced the banks to make bad loans.
3). Republicans Use A Debate About The Economy To Talk About Death Panels – See this is the problem with asking eight people who have no idea what to do with the economy except the same things that blew up the economy in the first place, how to fix it. Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain both claimed that the death panels are real. Newt Gingrich coins it “class intervention” to let patients die.
4). Newt “Cheap Applause Line” Gingrich wants Chris Dodd and Barney Frank Thrown In Jail – Seriously, his remedy for the economy is to repeal regulations like Dodd/Frank, but he doesn’t stop there. President Gingrich wants to throw a sitting member of the House and a former US senator into prison, and he is big ideas guy among the 2012 GOP candidates.
5). Where Are The Jobs? - Republicans are having a debate about the economy, but no candidate in the first hour mentioned how they are going to create jobs. In fact, the word jobs was not uttered. Unemployment is the most important issue in this election, but the Republican candidates seem content to make pizza jokes and discuss how they are going to repeal Obamacare.
The second hour of the debate featured the candidates questioning each other. This was supposed to spur conflict and discussion, but instead each of the questioners used their questions for self-promotion. The questioners delivered their talking points. The candidates delivered talking points for answers, and it was a dull knowledge free infomercial. The segment only lasted a half an hour, but it was the worst quarter of the debate.
The best part of the final segment was Herman Cain and Ron Paul looking like they were going to come to blows over the Fed. Cain mentioned Alan Greenspan as his model for Fed chairman, and Paul went off. Paul said if he had to name a Fed chair that did something good, it would be Paul Volcker.
Winners and Losers:
1). Mitt Romney - Yes, he flip flopped, and dodged tough questions, but Romney is clearly running a General Election primary campaign. The problem is that all of the other Republican candidates are too weak to challenge Romney. Republicans have no idea if Romney is actually a good candidate, and he is leading by default because everyone else is that bad.
2). Jon Huntsman – Huntsman got more airtime, and got off some of the best lines of the night. If he was trying to get voters to notice him, it worked. In fact to non-Republicans, Huntsman may be the most electable Republican. He is totally unelectable in these Republican primaries, but he is the most appealing to voters who aren’t dark red Republicans.
3). Newt Gingrich- Newt has zero chance at the nomination, but by going for cheap applause and delivering his sermons to the masses, he has guaranteed himself a raise at Fox News. An added bonus is that he will probably sell more books too.
4). Rick Santorum- If Gingrich has zero chance at the nomination, Santorum has a less than zero shot at being the GOP nominee, but Santorum was playing the spoiler tonight and going on the attack against his fellow Republicans. Once again, Ricky has no future in this race, but tonight he made sure that he was relevant enough to negotiate a raise from Roger Ailes and a return to Fox News.
1). Rick Perry – His campaign promised us a refreshed and revived Rick Perry, but instead the Texas governor looked like he was in coma. Perry has gone from frontrunner to nonentity in a matter of a few weeks. Perry needed a good debate, but came out with his worst performance yet. The nomination is still there for taking because Republicans really aren’t sold on Romney, but Perry is vanishing before our very eyes.
2). Herman Cain- Dear media, this is what happens when you elevate a one trick pony novelty candidate to contender status. Even Republicans were asking themselves, “Why does Herman Cain keep repeating himself?” The answer is that he has nothing new to offer or say. Cain’s new found standing in the polls meant that his fellow candidates pounced on his 9.9.9 plan and destroyed it. Cain is the GOP protest vote, but he is not a serious threat to Romney.
3). Michele Bachmann- The Minnesota Republican was there in body only. She has gone from being a serious challenger to watching her campaign self-destruct. Bachmann is now playing out the string, and if she doesn’t win Iowa, back to the House she will go.
4). Ron Paul – Debates on specific domestic issues highlight the weaknesses of Ron Paul. In a debate about the economy, Paul spent almost all of his airtime obsessing over the Fed. How would Ron Paul create jobs? Ron Paul has principles, but like his fellow Republicans, he has no plans. Paul didn’t hurt himself. His supporters will still love him, but he probably didn’t earn himself any new supporters with his effort tonight.
Republicans better hope that their nominee gets better on the economy before the General Election, because if any of these eight bring this performance up against Obama next fall, they will be smoked. As long as Republicans continue to not talk about jobs, and vote against bills that would create jobs, they will struggle to take back the White House in 2012.