The Ames debate is now history. You can read the live-blogging from Conservatives for Huntsman here. But for those of you who would like a synopsis of tonight’s event we are happy to oblige.
Jon Huntsman – In many ways this was Jon’s first exposure to a national audience as a presidential candidate. What he needed to do tonight was to introduce himself to the public as a more consistent (and successful) alternative to Mitt Romney, while simultaneously touting his conservative bona fides (which have been shamefully distorted by many on the right). We feel that he did this. He does need some polish in this format, but as this was his first debate with this field he can be excused. He made no errors and did not lower himself to the cheap shots thrown about by some of the others. He handled his questions well and implored viewers to check out his record as governor of Utah. With more national appearances people will do this and they will see that he is still the best candidate the GOP has. (Best answers: Civil Unions, China, taxes).
Mitt Romney – We do not believe that Mitt Romney came across particularly well tonight. He did nothing to disprove the criticism that he is inconsistent when it comes to his own record. He was slightly wooden and did not respond to the other candidates’ jabs particularly well. We’re still trying to figure out how the states have the power to make its citizens purchase something as it sees fit, but the states do not have the power to define marriage as its citizens see fit.
Tim Pawlenty & Michele Bachmann– We had to combine them because “The TPaw and Michele Show” was certainly the sideshow of the night. Their bickering took up far, FAR too much time and only served to embarrass each of them. Pawlenty took his one good line (“I’ll come to your house and cook you dinner”) too far with a cheap shot at Mitt Romney. When he wasn’t arguing with Michele he did better than expected, but it may not be enough to save his campaign. Michele Bachmann made sure to point out that she “led” in Congress. How and when she did this is anyone’s guess.
Newt Gingrich – Newt has years of speaking appearances and punditry behind him, so he seemed the most comfortable in that setting. He talked a lot about his experience as Speaker of the House of Representatives, but failed to mention how he had the ability in the 90’s to do something about Social Security and punted on the issue. He appeared curmudgeon-y in his slapfight with Chris Wallace and Bret Baier over “gotcha” questions. While the Balanced Budget Amendment was discussed quite a bit in the debate, no one pointed out that Gingrich failed to promote the BBA after the 1994-1996 Congress.
Herman Cain – We’re not sure why sharia law needed to be mentioned when unemployment is over 9% and people are struggling. It would have served him better to not have taken the moderator’s bait.
Rick Santorum – To quote our Twitter feed: “Santorum concerned about treatment of gays in society…. Iranian society.” Still way too far right for our tastes.
and guest starring Ron Paul as “The Wacky Neighbor” – Nothing new here. Defending and apologizing for Iran? Check. Isolationism? Check. Obnoxious followers exaggerating his impact? Check. Fox (as usual) devoted too much time to Ron Paul and the fact that they used him as the pivot point during the discussion about foreign policy when Jon Huntsman (the only candidate with real foreign policy experience) was on the same stage was shameful.
We felt no one truly “won” the debate but some came off better than others, among them Governor Huntsman. While Huntsman looked statesmen-like, the others reminded us of the dysfunction we normally associate with Washington. In our opinion, the one who came off as the most electable to the general American voting public was Jon Huntsman.