The last Republican primary debate was held in Iowa Thursday night. The event was broadcast on Fox News Channel and it's news anchors were the moderator and questioners. The Iowa Republican Party sponsored the event. Here are some thoughts on each candidate:
To Newt Gingrich I say this: you are the frontrunner in most polls but that is slipping a bit. In order to remain on top, it is essential that you remain positive and tweak the others about their jabs to you. What you did with the zany reference during the debate was perfect. Also, continue to work on getting a shorter, more concise answer to the question about your association with Freddie Mac. The public is confused and your opponents are seizing the issue.
To Mitt Romney I say this: during this debate you clearly won the foreign policy questions. You were strong overall but the foreign policy questions made you the winner of this debate. Your remark that President Obama has a "pretty please" foreign policy was the best remark of the evening. You look strong and confident. This will be crucial in the coming weeks. Stay on message and continue to take the fight to Barack Obama, not fellow Republicans. Also, continue to educate all of us not from Massachusetts about the legislature and your tenure as Governor in a solidly Democratic state. Emphasize the more than 800 vetoes you issued yet the legislature overturned. And also speak about the judges you nominated, not appointed, as that is a common criticism - that you appointed liberal judges.
To Governor Perry I say this: keep your new team of advisers. Thank them for preparing you more fully to be on the stage in these debates. You look more relaxed and comfortable in your own skin. Those of us in Texas have been wondering where you've been. You have to continue to prove you can string sentences together to pursuade others to give you a second look. Being a "doer" is good but do not underestimate the importance of communication to the general public. You have to be able to get your message out.
To Michele Bachmann I say this: woman to woman, Michele, I do not ever again want to hear you say "I am a serious candidate" on a stage full of men. Do not play into any remarks you may consider condescending and do not play victim. It offends other serious women. Including me. We know you are serious in your pursuit of the GOP nomination, otherwise you would not be there in the first place.
To Rick Santorum I say this: I am still not a fan. You come off sanctimonious and self-righteous. Maybe it is just me. You continue to tout your legislative successes, rightfully so, yet you lost the last election you competed in and it was a big loss in your own state. That is hard to overcome. You continue to come off as everyone's moral compass and that is not what we would elect you to do. You are running for President of the United States.
To Jon Huntsman I say this: I really wish you were a better candidate. You are correct when you claim to not be the best politician. And, that is a shame. You have an excellent economic plan and you understand our role in the world. You know how to talk to all sides and you even worked for Ronald Reagan. You are the complete package - successful Governor, diplomat, fiscal conservative, social conservative - yet you can't get out of the gate. Again, it is a shame.
To Ron Paul I say this: while you do have some sound economic policy opinions, you are out of the ballpark on foreign policy. The Republican party is known for strength in this area and you are to the left of Barack Obama on subjects like Iran and the need for a strong presence in the world. You are under the impression that isolationism is a sign of strength. I would argue that the world looks to the U.S. for stability and a force for good.
The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 3, 2012.