So there was a debate tonight…

I’m pretty sure that I increased my “political junkie street cred” tonight as I actually watched the 1st Republican Primary debate .  In case you somehow missed it, I’ll summarize everything you need to know.  The information below is sorted in order of how the candidates performed, from most to least effective.

1) Tim Pawlenty was the only candidate on the stage who actually has a serious chance of winning the primary.  He’s also one of the few who might be able to thread the needle between pleasing the base while attracting moderates.  He’s kind of plain but surely earned points from some with his folksy style, emphasizing he is from a union, blue collar family etc. yet still holds to conservative principles.  He came off as very respectful and the most presidential of the 5 who were there, but still a little stiff in his mannerisms.  He was set up with one question to slam Romneycare but declined…. then later took a subtle jab at Romney later emphasizing when he was asked about cap and trade (which he previously supported) that he admits when he make mistakes in the past (obviously in contradistinction to Romney, who Pawlenty has previously attacked for not running away from his MA healthcare plan).

2) Rick Santorum is clearly the “values voters” candidate of the 5 on the stage.  I thought he received the toughest questions, including one that took a quote from his book out of context and was asked in a way that presupposed he thought women should stay barefoot in the kitchen…. this led to a somewhat unintentionally humorous moment when he set the record by saying that he “supports a women’s right to choose….” if they want to stay home or work.  That struck me as a comical choice of words coming from one of the most pro-life political figures in the country.  Anyway, he did fine.  He seems like a good man, but so long as any of the other candidates with the potential to appeal to social conservatives (Huckabee, Palin, Bachmann, etc.) enter the race, I don’t see him gaining a serious following.

3) Herman Cain would make a good talk radio show host, but not a very good president.  He is popular with the tea party and a very effective communicator.  But he seemed pretty uninformed on foreign policy questions and I honestly have no idea what he was trying to say in his closing statement…. his last word was “positionship” which I am quite sure is not a real word.  He might have meant “partisanship”…?  He won’t win, but he will gain a decent following and his endorsement might be important at some point down the road.

4) Ron Paul is just the same as ever.  When asked a question about economic policy or related issues, he gives the best, most articulate answers of anyone on stage.  When asked a question about just about anyone else, he transforms into a batty old man.  If he stays in that long, there is an outside chance he could win in Montana, where he got 25% of the vote in 2008.  But obviously, he won’t be our next president.

5) Gary Johnson is best known for being pro-marijuana.  But even so, I must say that I was surprised to see that he appeared to be under the influence of it during the debate.


  1. Great analysis!

    Love the humor; number five =classic.

  2. Anonymous Politico says:

    There was a what?