The winner of the GOP debate Wednesday night from the Reagan Library? Newt Gingrich. Why? The old, firey Newt emerged in addressing a question on health care. The moderator hoped for Newt to chose which was better - Gov Perry's Texas model or Gov Romney's Massachusetts model - and Newt wasn't having it. He quite firmly told the moderator he was not interested in helping the media force fights amongst the candidates. He said he was not interested in helping the media re-elect Barack Obama.
Newt Gingrich said, "Whoever is the nominee, we are all committed to defeating Barack Obama".
Go HERE and watch.
His response was spot on.
Needless to say, the GOP debate from the Reagan Library was all about bashing Governor Perry, the new person on the stage. To hear the moderators - Brian Williams of NBC and John Harris of Politico - speak, the state of Texas is a hell hole inhabited by uneducated, poor, and uninsured people. Governor Perry did well by making a good showing. He is not known for strong debating skills and I was pleasantly surprised at how strong some of his answers were and of his willingness to take on Mitt Romney.
Romney and Perry were positioned standing next to each other. Both were prepared to go one on one with each other. It is clearly a two man race at this point. Governor Perry definitely held his own and that was all he needed to do as he introduced himself to the country.
Michele Bachmann is now a second tier candidate. Whatever rise in stock she experienced in early debates is clearly gone now. She is not ready to move from Congresswoman to President.
Ron Paul proved he is rapidly losing favor with just about everyone but the most ardent supporters. He comes off as the grumpy old man yelling at the neighborhood kids and it is grating, to say the least. His strong suit is on economics and even on this topic he sounded off Wednesday night.
Rick Santorum is a nuisance at this point. He is a one theme candidate on the social issues when the country clearly needs and wants fiscal issues to take the forefront. He comes off petulent.
Herman Cain had a good evening with some strong answers but still falls prey to using too many rehearsed lines. He talks in sound bites and that doesn't come off too well when a more relaxed manner is required.
Newt is still not going anywhere with his campaign but it is interesting to listen to his informative answers. He is the professor and he reminds us of why we like him. He's smart and he's patient enough to teach us.
Jon Huntsman was stronger than in the past but still falls short. He wants to be the smart diplomat up on the stage and sometimes he pulls that off. Other times he sounds out of touch and in his own bubble.
So, the final tally is in and its a tie. Both Romney and Perry came out on top. Romney because he looks presidential and kept cool as he was attacked from other candidates. Perry because he took the fight to Romney without hesitation - plus he tweaked Ron Paul over some Reagan remarks - and he held his own. That was all he had to do for his first debate appearance.
The next debate is just days away.