In order of how they are doing in the national polls.
Mitt Romney – B+
This is a little generous because while he generally gave solid answers, he was a bit evasive at times…. sometimes he talks about what he wants to talk about rather than directly answering the question. So give him a B for his answers, but a plus for the fact that he seemed very presidential on a night where most of the others engaged in lots of petty squabbling.
Michelle Bachmann – C-
Earth to Michelle… in the polls in Iowa, you are winning. You should have stayed above the fray rather than firing bullets at virtually ever other candidate on the stage. You came across as very angry tonight and probably undid a lot of the good done in the last debate. Some of your supporters might now take a 2nd look at Cain or Santorum, thus allowing Paul to win the Straw Poll and deprive you of the win you so desperately need. Just don’t understand the strategy here to be so aggressive and eager to fight.
Ron Paul – B
Not much to say here…. if you are a libertarian isolationist, you loved Ron tonight. If you aren’t, you got very frustrated with him. Paul’s base loves him and he may even win the Straw Poll. But him actually winning a caucus or primary anywhere is still a long shot.
Herman Cain – B+
Cain sometimes oversimplifies things, but he was sharp tonight. He came off as the most presidential I have seen him. In particular, i thought he gave very creditable responses to questions accusing him of bigotry and ignorance in his prior comments.
Gingrich – A-
Newt won the debate because he came off as very intelligent and genuine in a debate of candidates who often seemed to be giving canned responses. I don’t think it is going to make any difference in the big picture, but got to give credit where it is due.
Pawlenty – F
In the last debate, Pawlenty was too nice. In this debate, he played attack dog and showed all the finesse of a sumo wrestler trying to thread a needle. His attacks on Bachmann came across as mean-spirited. His line about Romney’s lawn being too big to mow reeked of class-warfare…. which is about the last thing the Republican party needs right now. After he finishes well behind Bachmann and Paul (and maybe others) in the straw poll, he should just drop out…. mostly to avoid further embarrassing himself.
Huntsman – C-
Really surprised at how weak Huntsman seemed. The very 1st words out of his mouth was apologizing for not having a more detailed plan on his website yet. I heard people on both sides of the aisle say he would be our best candidate against Obama, but I just don’t see much passion from Huntsman…. no underlying reason why he is in the race.
Santorum – B+
I thought Santorum gave lots of intelligent answers and he is the one candidate who may have gained points by attacking… in the eyes of most Republican voters, I think he came off pretty well in his exchange with Mr. Paul. He may be doing the worst in the national polls, but I could see him finishing 4th in the straw poll. He can come off as arrogant at times though and he will never be a real threat to win Iowa, nor any other state.