Here are some thoughts from the Tuesday night Republican debate in Las Vegas.
CNN moderator Anderson Cooper was not an aggressive host. He pretty much got out of the way and let the candidates duke it out among themselves. This was a good thing. So, kudos to him. It was the first such debate where the candidates were aggressive against each other. Especially Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 Plan. And, the hostility between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry runs a river wide and deep.
Everyone jumped ugly on Herman Cain's economic plan as soon as the opening statements were finished. Cain seems to be the only one who understands his plan and that is the problem. He has got to come up with a simple and concise explanation without telling the viewer to go to his web site for it. Voters won't do that. Voters are lazy and not involved until it is time to go to the voting booth, as a general rule. Using the apples and oranges argument was bizarre and unclear.
Herman Cain seems to be almost proud of his ignorance of foreign policy matters and that is unacceptable. This is where his lack of political experience is most apparent. He reminds us all that the presidency is not an entry level position.
Mitt Romney won the debate, as usual, but this time he had to work for it. He has released two videos over the last two days, both negative, and both targeting Rick Perry. He clearly views Perry has his main competition for the nomination. Perry did something the others have been unable to do so far - he made Romney lose his cool demeanor on stage.
Rick Perry finally gave a performance worthy of discussion. The very thing that the pundits are writing about - the vengeance which he took after Romney at every turn - is the very thing that will be used against the party in the general election by Team Obama. The soundbites that the back and forth between Romney and Perry produced will be the gift that keeps on giving to our opponents once the primary season is over. Perry has several points he can make against Romney without going nasty and the last thing he should be dwelling on is the alleged hiring of illegal immigrants to take care of his lawn work. This was settled back in 2008 and to bring it all up again is a waste of time. He has to learn to counter his opponents without being so aggressive that he looks desperate.
Newt Gingrich continued on with his role of professor. He remains the one candidate that rises up the fray and remembers that it is Barack Obama that is the enemy in this battle, not his fellow Republicans. He is a happy warrior.
Michele Bachmann actually scored a few points by bringing some solid points into the debate - especially as she spoke of HHS scrapping the CLASS entitlement from Obamacare and explaining the naviete of Herman Cain towards foreign policy. Then she ruined it by choking up while speaking about moms who are struggling in this bad economy and going through foreclosure. Her point was a valid one - that of the emotional struggles of those facing foreclosure - but she did herself no favors by tearing up for the camera.
Ron Paul is the grumpy old man who wants you to get off his lawn. He continued with the predictable themes of his disgust over the Federal Reserve and our foreign policies.
Rick Santorum, who desperately wants the voter to think of him as super family man, opened by saying his three year old daughter had surgery that day and was doing well. Here's the thing, he is at the bottom of the heap and he could have easily skipped the debate to be there for his daughter and wife. He didn't. He comes off as a bitter and sanctimonious candidate. No one likes him and he still doesn't understand that he is only as good as his last election. Which he lost.
Jon Huntsman was not missed.
The next debate has a foreign policy and national security theme. Maybe Herman Cain will discontinue the book tour long enough to study.