Tuesday night brought us the eleventh GOP presidential primary debate from Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by CNN and sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and AEI. Members of the two conservative think tanks asked questions from the audience. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was the moderator.
The topic was national security/foreign policy. At times it was not clear that this was the theme, however. Candidates veered off into tangents and Blitzer lost control a couple of times, allowing the candidates to ramble on and interject themselves out of turn.
Here's my ranking for the three who deserve top ranking on performance:
1. Newt Gingrich
2. Mitt Romney
3. Michele Bachmann
Yes, Michele Bachmann had a good night. She used her experience on the House Intelligence committee to her advantage by bringing some common sense to the debate, especially on the topic of foreign aid. She reminded all that it is a complicated issue and not deserving of simply saying the U.S. should cut off foreign aid when the going gets tough with another country who is usually an allie - such as Pakistan. She called out Governor Perry on this, as he insisted that Pakistan was not worthy of aid as they harbor terrorists. She explained that the U.S. gets intelligence that we otherwise might not receive without it.
Jon Huntsman used his experience as a former ambassador to tout that the U.S. has to get its own house in order before trying to solve problems elsewhere in the world. He wants our troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. It is too bad that he was not asked about China's rise in power and our relationship with the Chinese.
Rick Santorum made a few good points using his Senatorial experience but is still not an impressive candidate. He fluctuates between smug and self serving to impatient and whiny.
Ron Paul wants you to get off his lawn.
Governor Perry didn't embarrass himself. He also didn't do so well. He is settling into a decent answer on the immigration question but, unfortunately, Newt Gingrich better articulates that position.
Herman Cain was out of his element. He can only get so far with giving his standard answer that he will listen to experts in field, or generals on the ground. He has to actually come up with a plan or a vision somewhere along the line if he wants to be taken seriously.
Mitt Romney was is usual steady, aggressive without being too obnoxious, self. He became a bit strident about his support for Israel in light of a potential nuclear weapon being developed in Iran as Ron Paul and Herman Cain were throwing Israel under the bus.
And so, that leaves Newt Gingrich as the winner. He was professorial without being condescending. The media and liberals will, however, take his answer on immigration and try to divide everyone up with a ginned up exaggeration of his stance. It will be said that he is pro-amnesty for illegal immigrants when he was simply stating that as the party of the family, the Republicans, we should be more pragmatic and see the insanity of saying the U.S. should deport eleven million people who came here illegally. His idea is to go to a system where a panel will look at individual cases and choose who should stay here. If the person has no ties here, for example, and has recently arrived here, then that person should have to leave. In a perfect world, the other GOP candidates would not take the bait or try to twist the answer into something it was not.
This is not a perfect world.
The next debate is December 10 at Drake University in Des Moines,Iowa.