I'll get it out of the way - Romney won the Republican Presidential debate. I do not say that with joy or as an endorsement of his candidacy. I say it as fact.
Overall all of them did ok. None of them talked themselves out of the race. But, truthfully, I expected that. None of them jumped to the front of the pack either. Romney won because this is not his first Presidential run and he seemed to anticipate the questions and was prepared. None of them cut loose and showed a desire to get out on a ledge.
Michele Bachmann took the time to announce she filed the papers to run for President and then said she'd make the announcement later. Well, sorry Mrs. Bachmann. That was your announcement. She should have answered the question asked of her and left the announcement to another time. Instead she announced her announcement (haven't we been down this road enough?) and missed an opportunity to state her policy on an economic question. This after touting herself as a former tax attorney. You'd think she would not miss the opportunity to tell how she'd straighten out the mess we're in, wouldn't you?
Newt Gingrich was the first to invoke the name of Ronald Reagan. Any time a group of Republicans are on the same stage, we know it's only a matter of time. Gingrich did it on the third question. I love Reagan as much as any Republican but it is time to take his humility to heart and respond as your own person.
There were two times when the strong backbone I'm am demanding of the candidate who gets my vote came into play. Newt showed his first. On the subject of immigration reform he chastised CNN's moderator, John King, for trying to make immigration reform into all one way or the other. For example, King kept asking if all illegal immigrants - maybe up to 20 million, no one knows for certain - should be sent home. Newt pointed to the absurdity of that all or nothing approach and told the voters to not allow the Democrats or the media (one and the same, really) to get away with that dribble. It is a vehicle for the media to portray conservatives as racist or inhumane.
Liberals love to say that decisions aren't black or white, that most are in the gray area. Apparently that is only for them, though.
On the question of whether or not the 2008 candidates made good choices in running mates, Tim Pawlenty spoke truth to power by stating firmly that Joe Biden has been wrong on every decision he put forth in his time in office. He is historically on the wrong side of foreign policy - touted as his strength - and Pawlenty said that Sarah Palin was a far better choice.
The subject of foreign policy was given the shortest amount of time. Of course. It was CNN and liberals don't have much use for foreign policy discussions. It was 8:40pm CST before the subject entered the q and a. That left 20 minutes.
There were no questions about the Federal Reserve so Ron Paul was disappointed about that.
Mitt Romney announced the score of the Stanley Cup match at the game's halftime. Bruins were up 4 - 0. I'm a longtime Bruins fan from back in the Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson days so I enjoyed that levity.
Some parts that bugged me - the fact that John King was only trying to allow 30 second answers. Nothing is learned with that format. Plus, King was just annoying with the cutting off of answers and what sounded like his heavy breathing as he tried to keep charge of the stage.
King did this silly game before commercial breaks where he asked the candidates an either/or question - he called it This or That. For instance, the first question went to Santorium and it was Leno or Conan? Santorium said he had no preference and didn't watch either. Then he said it would be Leno if he had to choose. Next was to Bachmann - Johnny Cash or Elvis? She couldn't answer either and then said Elvis Christmas songs were on her iPod. So, two up and two missed. You want to be President and you can't make a decision on a silly question without hemming and hawing? Newt's was the third question - Idol or Dancing with the Stars? He said Idol without hesitation. All the other candidates answered without hesitation after that. It was dumb and a waste of time. Candidates should demand a stop to all that distraction. Much like the stupid show of hands questions from last time. Candidates should refuse to participate in it all.
Final thoughts - I still don't care for Rick Santorium. Never have understood the attraction and still don't. Maybe it's just me.
Newt Gingrich redeemed himself but still struggles on the far right social experiment question. There is no way of knowing how long he lasts but for now he's ok.
Ron Paul was Ron Paul. He keeps the Libertarian wing of the party alive. He seemed a bit more subdued than in 2008.
Herman Cain was the least strong. He doesn't have political experience and though that is attractive to many supporters, it is a weakness against other politicians. He falls dramatically on the Muslim question. I would have thought that by now, with all the play in the press his original remark received, his staff would have better prepared him for it to come up again.
Tim Pawlenty disappointed me with his refusal to take "Obamneycare" to Mitt Romney. He left himself open to John King asking why he says that term on FOX News Sunday but not on the same stage as Romney. Fair question. It made Pawlenty look weak during an otherwise good performance. He needs to get his backbone back against all the other candidates, not just against Barack Obama. He needs to get back and keep the attitude.
And, Mitt. As I said at the beginning, he won. He's experience, polished and confident. His This or That question was - for wings do you prefer hot or mild? He said hot. Enough said.